Our pastor, at a parish with a lot of immigrants, talked about an interesting problem the other day. It seems like a lot of immigrants into this country come here with marriages which are not done in the Church and they are not even married civilly. They get here, and through one means or another, rediscover the Catholic Church and become quite serious about their faith. So of course, they want to have their relationships normalized with a real marriage. But due to immigration issues, they can’t get civilly married. Now in this country (maybe everywhere), the Catholic Church will not do a marriage if it is not legally valid with the state. So this leaves them in a very bad state, they want to get married, they can’t. They often have kids, so they can’t live apart. There is no impediment to a marriage from a canonical standpoint, it is simply the civil law which keeps the church from marrying them.
Now, this is not intended to be a discussion on illegal immigration, thats why its not on the social justice forum, so please don’t reply with all of the anti-illegal-immigration responses so typical on the social justice sub-forum. I am just curious about the exact requirements of the Church with regards to sacramental marriages required to go hand-in-hand with civil marriages, the reasons behind this requirement, and opinions about how this should be handled. According to my pastor, priests are often bringing this subject up with their Bishops and they want a solution to the problem that does not require a political/legal change in the law of this country, as that is looking more and more hopeless. Any thoughts?