Protestant Marriage

Correct me if I be wrong, but we, as Catholics, allow former Protestants (obviously now Catholics) to marry in Catholic Churches, even if they have been married before and this is because Catholics only view marriage as performed legitimately by the Catholic Church (and the sui iuris rites) because it is a sacrament.

Does this mean that Catholics believe that all Protestants are sinning if they engage in sexual intercourse within their marriages, as sex outside of marriage is a sin (and we believe only our marriages are binding before God).

And is the Catholic teaching of ‘extra ecclesiam nulla salus’ fit in here?

Totally incorrect. Protestant marriages are sacramental. Non-Christian marriages are true marriages, but non-sacramental.

Yet why do we let divorced Protestants remarry?

Only if there is a decree of nullity.

Even leaving aside Protestants the contention that the Catholic Church only recognises as legitimate marriages performed within the Catholic Church would be untrue. Marriages performed by other apostolic Churches are also sacramental. Even marriages between non-Catholics whilst not sacramental are valid natural marriages.

I have run into this idea that the Church does not recognise non-Catholic marriages before, I am unsure of why or how it originated but it is totally untrue.

This is incorrect.

The Catholic Church recognizes marriages among non-Catholics (including non-Christians) as valid.

The only people who must be married according to Catholic form are Catholics. Two Protestants who were never part of the Catholic Church marry validly in their own churches, at a courthouse, on the beach, etc.

If the two parties involved are baptized, their marriage is not only valid but also sacramental. If one or both parties are unbaptized their marriage is valid and natural.

The only other people I am aware of who must follow particular form are Orthodox Christians. Like Catholics, if they were to get married by a judge or in a similar circumstance, they would not be validly married.

Does this mean that Catholics believe that all Protestants are sinning if they engage in sexual intercourse within their marriages, as sex outside of marriage is a sin (and we believe only our marriages are binding before God).

They are not sinning any more than married Catholics are sinning when they engage in sex. They are married.

It is not only Catholic marriages that are binding, but Protestant marriages, Jewish marriages, Buddhist marriages, atheist marriages, etc.

No. This is not correct.

The Catholic Church recognizes non-Catholic Christian and non-Christian marriages as valid. If the parties are baptized, it is also a sacrament.

No, because your original premise is incorrect.


Where did you get that idea?

Yet it’s only sacramental marriage that is indissoluble?

I’d suggest reading the section over the “Pauline Privilege.” I believe this will answer your question concerning Biblical and Church teachings on valid, invalid, sacramental, and non-sacramental marriages.

God bless!

Just to clarify, Protestant marriages, when both parties are baptized and free to marry, are sacramental.

How you worded the idea just gave me a thought about why that idea exists. The error therein may be in misapplying the standards for Catholics to non-Catholics.

In other words, someone may encounter an idea like “the Church does not recognize non-Catholic marriages (without a dispensation) involving Catholics” and then misinterpret it as or erroneously generalize it to something like “the Church does not recognize non-Catholic marriages involving anyone.”

My opinion on this is that the church requires the marriage to be blessed prior to becoming full communicants into the church. I think this requirement is thus confused with the original marriage not being sacramental. Just my thoughts.


You are so way off base, I don’t even know where to begin.

No my friend, The Catholic Church views Protestant marriage as valid and Sacramental for those who are members of various Protestant Churches- therefore if e.g. two Anglicans marry according the customs and rites of their own Church they are validly married in the eyes of the Catholic Church. However if one of the party are Catholic they must marry in the Roman Church for it to be valid, as Catholics are bound to the rules of the Roman Church.

If two Protestants decide to become Catholics and have been married according to the rites of their previous Church there is no need for them to re-marry in the Catholic Church, yet they could technically have a renewal of their vows and blessing in the RC church but The Catholic Church would say that at the time they were not bound to Catholic ruling and they were not Catholic, therefore their marriage is valid. At the Easter Vigil we had a non Bapstised lady and her C of E husband received into the the Church and she was Baptised, Father said that they automatically received the Sacrament of Marriage through the Baptism of the wife and that they had received a Sacramental wedding through their actual initiation into our Church.

This is not correct. There is no such requirement. It is not possible to convalidate an already valid marriage. Those in a valid marriage do NOT have to get their marriage “blessed” in order to enter the Catholic Church.

Where did you get the idea that Protestant marriages were invalid? That’s an incredibly selfish idea that’s never been true.

I’m unsure if this is directed to me or 1ke. If to me then I apologize if I have implied such a thing. That was never my intension nor was it my intension to imply that protestant marriages are not sacramental. They most certainly are. I was just stating my opinion where confusion could come from. I have witnessed many already valid protestant marriage being blessed in the Catholic church. It is conceivable for me to see where a non-Catholic could wrongly view this ritual as “the Catholic church must not recognizing non-Catholic marriages therefor must validate it”.

I hope this clears up any misunderstanding.

Not true. I married my Catholic husband 20 years ago. We had the ceremony in the LCMS church, however we went through all of the pre-marriage stuff required of us by the Catholic church, including meeting with a priest numerous times, who then gave us the blessing and told us that the church would view my LCMS pastor as performing the marriage in place of the priest, just the same as if we had been married in the Catholic church.

This is called a dispensation from form, and it is required in order for a Catholic to validly marry in such a situation as you describe. But they are still marrying within the Catholic Church.

When a Catholic receives a dispensation from form, the marriage is valid and the Catholic has married according to the laws of the Church. In your husband’s case, he did marry in the Church because he married according to the laws of the Church.

I can see the confusion, as some think that “in the Church” means literally in a Catholic Church. It does not necessarily mean that.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit