Should I become a sponsor under these circumstances?


I was asked if I could sponsor my sister and future husband in their near-future wedding (March, 2017). The problem here is that they have been cohabitating for maybe a couple of years now and I haven’t heard of them stopping that prior to the wedding day. (They claim not to be having intimacy, and family members support them for a variety of reasons, including her fragile health, but I definitely can’t support that.)

So, assuming that even throughout the marriage prep classes they continue like this, should I accept or decline the invitation to be one of their sponsors? (My guess is no, because they’re not giving God and marriage its due respect, aside from weakening and staining their own relationship, but I would really appreciate your take on this.)

I said I’ll try to get an answer for them by today or tomorrow if possible. I hope you can help.

Thank you

I’m not sure what you mean by being a “sponsor” for the wedding. Weddings normally have witnesses, not sponsors. The official witnesses are usually the Best Man and the Maid of Honor and they also usually sign the civil marriage license.
All the witnesses do is officially witness the exchange of vows. You are not making any statement other than that you saw first hand the couple exchange the proper vows.

Ultimately its a personal decision that you need to make, but there is no moral imperative that you turn down being a witness. Cohabitation, in and of itself, is not an impediment to the sacrament of marriage.


  1. Should cohabiting couples be encouraged to separate prior to the wedding?

Many diocesan marriage preparation policies suggest that pastoral ministers encourage cohabiting couples to separate…Even if the couple chooses not to separate, they can be encouraged to live chastely before marriage…Some couples are not normally asked to separate, e.g., those with children. Ideally, before challenging a couple to separate the minister knows their particular circumstances and why they decided to live together. A couple may have what seem to them good reasons (e.g., finances, safety) for living together. A change in living arrangements can pose practical problems…

  1. If a couple is cohabiting, can marriage be denied or delayed?

Denial of marriage

– Since cohabitation is not in itself a canonical impediment to marriage, the couple may not be refused marriage solely on the basis of cohabitation. Marriage preparation may continue even if the couple refuses to separate. Pastoral ministers can be assured that to assist couples in regularizing their situation is not to approve of cohabitation.

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