Older couple second marriage legal/spiritual issues

Someone I know is not free to marry in the Church until annulment(s) are granted. He is curious about how people who are older fce certain legal tax issues. According to him a number of Catholics that he knows simply live together and do not file with the state because they would have to give up too much social security earnings? Does anyone know if it is more or less burdensome for an older couple to be (for the second time) married.
If so he wants to know if it would be acceptable to have a Catholic religious ceremony and not to file with the state? Some have seemed to indicate that this is actually fraud and or sinful. How can I explain this as he wants advice from me.
He is also interested in the possibility of simply living with a woman friend and not being sexually active in order to have what he considers a necessity of a care giver of some sort. I have heard of couples remaining celibate while awaiting anulments because they are already committed, and he was already living with a woman and a priest told him that as long as they were celibate that he could commune (possibly if he were willing to go through an anulment as well). This seemed like a bad idea because of temptation and because he may be just trying to find loop holes instead of accepting the difficulties that the Lord may be calling him to face in other ways, or scandalous or presumptuous on some level. How can I answer these issues? He has only been Catholic a few years. I may direct him to this page so answer honestly but somewhat charitably.


If I am not mistaken, there has to be a grave reason before the Church will allow a secret marriage. I think this falls in that category. It is something to ask one’s pastor.

The blessing of a sacramental marriage is far more important than having more money by fraudently getting two incomes.

I don’t know how to exactly answer the second question…but it seems to be that it would be giving the appearance of scandal to live together with a member of the opposite sex even though they plan to be chaste. Of course, it would seem to me to be an occasion of sin as well. I do not understand the answer that the priest gave.

But the Church will not allow a secret marriage when the whole point of the secrecy is to defraud the State. Remember what Jesus said about rendering unto Caesar. The Church might perform a secret marriage if the law of the land violated natural law but such is not the case in this instance.

I agree that this seems to be the complete answer to whether or not they can have a “secret marriage”. I’ve never heard of this before, but following your tip, I found it in Canon 1130. Indeed, it can only be for a “grave and urgent cause”.


As for living together in celibacy, this is less clear. I personally wouldn’t recommend it, however I’m not particularly qualified to remark, and their priest’s advice (cited in the post) would carry much more weight than mine. However, even then, there seems to be some caution in his advice, as reported here - he’s saying that they may continue to receive communion, but that would not seem to be endorsement or encouragement.

And, btw, EasterJoy, how did you dig this one out of the memory banks? :slight_smile: I’ve never heard of a secret marriage in 30 years of Catholicism, as an adult convert. Nice work!

I didn’t read closely enough. I see that the advice was given to another couple. In that case the advice, as cited, is a useful place to start, and indicates one potential option to explore, but, because it was given to another couple, by another priest, they should consult directly with their own priest. I deliberately say “they”, not “him” - I expect that the priest would want to meet them both, as a couple.

Do you really think it would? I have zero experience with this, and this might be my imaginative side talking, but I always thought that was more for like life and death situations (Romeo and Juliet type), other types of danger, or situations where the repercussions would be devastating due to cultural clashes or family situations etc…“forbidden love”, irrational outside threats, etc… somehow not wanting to lose some social security benefits doesn’t seem like it be that grave and urgent, that’s just mho…(would their benefits then be comparable to the benefits of a couple that had been married for many years or would they lose considerably more?)… Plus it mentions the scandal right after (cannot be secret if grave scandal comes of it, something along those lines).

I dunno, definitely something to talk with a knowledgeable priest about, that is what I would advise him to do. I have a non-Catholic grandma that did that (“shacking up”, to make the inheritance easier for their kids), but then they ended up getting married :slight_smile: and figuring things out a different way. Bless her heart, my grandma has been a widow 3 times (she is an awesome woman btw :slight_smile: ). I think the priest can help him figure out what needs to be done. I mean, there are live in caregivers, but then again, if he sees this woman as something more than a caregiver, someone he would like to marry, then its a whole different deal.

Well, in my opinion, I do not think that the matter is worthy of some sort of secret marriage. I think that this person should learn how to accept the Churches teaching and to either marry within the allowance of the Church or to remain single and seek care in other ways.
I think that looking for short cuts exceptions and gray areas is really not the best and most Catholic way to go about things. I would want to be sure that I am in the right and not gambling with things.

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