Should my sister stand up in my wedding?

Last February I became engaged and immediately asked my two younger sisters to stand up in our January, 2005 wedding.

Unfortunately, my 18 year old sister has since fallen away; in May she moved in with her boyfriend secretly. In June, she told us that she was pregnant.

I don’t know if I want her to stand up in the wedding anymore. She will be 8.5 months pregnant on our wedding day, which raises a plethora of practical concerns regarding standing up in the wedding. I also have moral issues with asking her to stand up in my wedding when her lifestyle is a complete contradiction to what I believe marriage is. Are these sorts of concerns justified? Or am I being overly self-righteous?

Another concern is asking non-Catholics to stand up in a Catholic wedding. Is this okay?

Code of Canon Law (CIC) requires marriage to be contracted before a Church authority (authorized witness) who assists and two other witnesses: “Only those marriages are valid which are contracted before the local ordinary, pastor, or a priest or deacon delegated by either of them, who assist, and before two witnesses…” (CIC 1108 §1).

While the qualifications of the authorized witness are stipulated in later canons, the qualifications of the other two witnesses are not. The New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law explains, “…the code stipulates no detailed qualifications for those fulfilling this role. To function as a witness to the celebration of the marriage, they should possess the use of reason and be capable of understanding the events they are witnessing” (p. 1328).

Therefore, you may licitly ask your sister to “stand up” in the role of witness. (Non-Catholics may be witnesses as well.) I understand that your sister has some serious personal issues to consider, however, the Church does not forbid her role as a witness.

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