SSPX Marriage validity

In some recent research I did I had come across statements that marriages done by SSPX priests are NOT valid. Yet protestant marriages are. That didn’t make sense to me. Why would a protestant marriage be valid and a SSPX marriage not?

From Jimmy Akin’s blog:

In actuality, SSPX marriages are not presumed valid. The reason: Can. 1108
§1. 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 according to the rules expressed in the following canons and without prejudice to the exceptions mentioned in cann. 144, 1112, §1, 1116, and 1127, §§1-2.
Since SSPX priests are never so delegated by the lawful bishop or pastor of the Catholic faithful they are marrying, the marriages are not valid due to lack of form. (None of the exceptions, incidentally, apply to the SSPX).
SSPXers will use evil trickery to try to argue around this conclusion (esp. using canon 144, but they are no more successful with applying that canon to marriages than they are in applying it to confessions; SEE ANALYSIS HERE), but their evil trickery is nothing more than evil trickery.
The marriages they perform between Catholics ain’t valid.

It is actually a good parallel. Protestant marriages are vailid for Protestant spouses. But a Catholic who gets married in a Protestant wedding without dispensation likely has a marriage that is invalid due to lack of form. Likewise, a Catholic who marries in a SSPX wedding is also lacking form.

That leads to the question that if someone belongs to the SSPX, are they actually Catholic at all? If they aren’t Catholic, then “form” doesn’t apply. And how about SSPX’ers who were never in communion with Rome- life long members and converts from non-catholic backgrounds? Are their marriages valid?

I don’t think the Church considers anyone but bishops and priests to be members of SSPX. I think ordination by SSPX is the only grounds for excommunication at the moment.

Actually there are lay members of the SSPX. The SSPX has a Third (or lay) Order.

Protestant marriages are valid? I though marriage was a sacrament only the Church could distribute (which is why many people had to get permission to attend Protestant weddings pre-V2).

I don’t think that is strictly correct. When my Lutheran cousins were married back in the forties there was no question about our being able to attend. The problem ones were where a Catholic or a divorced person was marrying a non-Catholic. Otherwise we were free to go. I believe that some of the good Sisters may have taught otherwise, but there are some things that were plain wrong because they did not have the training that a priest would have.

My wife had IHM nuns for twelve grades and she says,"Father would come in on Friday for Religion Class and correct any errors the Sisters would make during the week. Made the poor Sisters cringe. Of course that was long before some of the IHMs jumped the tracks after Vatican II…

According to the Western Catholic understanding of the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, the ministers of the sacrament are the spouses. Thus even Christian communities without a priesthood have the proper ministers of the sacrament and the marriages are valid. You might note that while all grace comes from Christ and thus always in some sense His Church as well, not only this sacrament but more importantly baptism can be found validly outside the Catholic Church even where priests are lacking.

The important question isn’t actually whether the SSPX itself is Catholic. The crux of the matter revolves around two pieces of information:

  1. has at least one of the individuals attempting to marry ever been Catholic? and
  2. have all parties who have ever been Catholic “formally defected” by submitting (ordinarily) written notice to their ordinary.

This issue of formal has quite recently (within the last few years)received canonical clarification. Formal defection entails more than simply joining another Church, it involves explicitly expressing your wish to defect to the Catholic Church. Dcn. Cameron can correct me if I’m completely inflating this canonical provision. But you see, if the SSPX “members” are still Catholic, they are bound by marriage law. If they are not Catholic, anyone who began as a Catholic is still bound by marriage law until such time as he formally defects from the Catholic Church - and I don’t anticipating to many SSPX members publicly declaring their intent to leave the Catholic Church.

If that is the case (that formal defection requires written notice, etc) then there are probably millions of protestants out there who were, as infants, baptized Catholics and thus are unknowingly fornicating with their spouses. That troubles me greatly. Can anyone clarify this point? I have a friend, for example, who was baptized Catholic as an infant but has was raised almost immediately thereafter in the Salvation Army and has practiced in that community all her life. When and if she marries, will her marriage be invalid?

The Church presumes that all marriages are valid until there is an application for an anullment. When one is granted an anullment there is no sin of fornication that must be confessed either since the presumption is that the marriage was valid.

To be guilty of a mortal sin, which fornication is, three conditions need to be met.

  1. must be of grave matter
  2. must be committed with full knowledge
  3. must be committed with deliberate consent

In the case of a person who is baptized Catholic as an infant they would most likely not know that they must be married in the Church so they will not be guilty of any mortal sin.

As for the issues with SSPX marriages, it is all about faculties. They are not granted such by the bishop whose jurisdiction they are doing this in. The same goes for their Sacrament of Penance, Sacrament of Confirmation, and their granting of anullments. They are all invalid (except for the confessions in the case of emergency).

The short answer is, yes, because of the way the Church has chosen to judge formal defection there are probably untold marriages out there that are technically invalid. The longer answer, though, is just as ByzCath pointed out. The Church presumes the validity of marriages, so no one is at fault for living in a presumedly valid marriage.

If marriages are assumed valid, why does the Church need to validate marriages that occur outside the Church? Why is it important for the Church to be involved, at all?

A con-validation is not required. If a couple wish to do so though they must know that this removes all invalidity of a marriage. That is a marriage that has been con-validated can never be found as invalid if an anullment process is started later.

So my Catholic wife and I could have been married by a justice of the priest at a beach, without the Church’s knowledge or consent, and the Church would recognize that marriage as equally valid as by a Priest in a Church?

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. A Catholic is bound by the laws of the Catholic Church. A Protestant is not.

Catholics must be married in a Catholic church with a minister of the Catholic Church who has faculties from the local bishop officiating unless the Catholic party has somehow obtained a dispensation from the local bishop to do otherwise.

So, if a Catholic chooses to marry at a beach with a justice of the peace the marriage would be held invalid by the Catholic Church.

The Church has liberalized its teaching on Marriage. While a marriage between Catholics must take place in a Catholic Church a marriage between a Catholic and a Protestant do not.Before Vatican II mixed marriages were forbidden.
On Christian Marriage
*CASTI CONNUBII *ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS XI ON CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE DECEMBER 31, 1930
82. They, therefore, who rashly and heedlessly contract mixed marriages, from which the maternal love and providence of the Church dissuades her children for very sound reasons, fail conspicuously in this respect, sometimes with danger to their eternal salvation. This attitude of the Church to mixed marriages appears in many of her documents, all of which are summed up in the Code of Canon Law: “Everywhere and with the greatest strictness the Church forbids marriages between baptized persons, one of whom is a Catholic and the other a member of a schismatical or heretical sect; and if there is, add to this, the danger of the falling away of the Catholic party and the perversion of the children, such a marriage is forbidden also by the divine law.”

Now, the Church accepts mixed marriages. A priest can even assist at the wedding in a Protestant Church.

"For appropriate pastoral reasons, a bishop can grant a
dispensation from the Catholic form of marriage and can permit the marriage to take place in a non-Catholic church with a non-
Catholic minister as the officiating minister. A priest may not
only attend such a ceremony but may also address, pray with, and bless the couple."
ewtn.com/library/MARRIAGE/MIXED.TXT

The Church has always accepted mixed marriages. If ou look at the very next line of Casti Connubii says:

If the Church occasionally on account of circumstances does not refuse to grant a dispensation from these strict laws (provided that the divine law remains intact and the dangers above mentioned are provided against by suitable safeguards), it is unlikely that the Catholic party will not suffer some detriment from such a marriage.

This, as always, should never be done without dispensation from the proper authority. These marriages have always been forbidden without proper dispensation. That said, if you read the document you quoted, you will see that it’s never been forbidden as a whole. Can you say that they’re done more frequently? Sure. Can you say that the teaching has been “liberalized”? Probably not. As someone who teaching marriage preparation, I can tell you that we strongly warn of the difficulties in a mixed marriage and we also teach both parties what they’re agreeing to in a mixed marriage.

You honestly don’t believe that the Church has liberalized it teachings on mixed marriages? Read this quote from Canon Law. CASTI CONNUBII :
“ This attitude of the Church to mixed marriages appears in many of her documents, all of which are summed up in the Code of Canon Law “Everywhere and with the greatest strictness the Church forbids marriages between baptized persons, one of whom is a Catholic and the other a member of a schismatical or heretical sect; and if there is, add to this, the danger of the falling away of the Catholic party and the perversion of the children, such a marriage is forbidden also by the divine law.”

Canon Law forbade such a marriage. Now the next paragraph, where because of circumstances a dispensation is occasionally granted, there are still strict restrictions.

." If the Church occasionally on account of circumstances does not refuse to grant a dispensation from these strict laws (provided that the divine law remains intact and the dangers above mentioned are provided against by suitable safeguards), it is unlikely that the Catholic party will not suffer some detriment from such a marriage”

If the Church occasionally grants a dispensation on account of circumstances from these strict laws { Canon Law} and Divine Law { the falling away from the Church} and the perversion of the children {by having them outside of the Church} is safeguarded, then occasionally a dispensation will be granted but the Catholic will still suffer “ some detriment.” Back then the non- Catholic had to swear that the children would be raised Catholic.

[Code of Canon Law 1917 Can. 1061
.”.the non Catholic party swears that not only will he/she not interfere with the education of the children according to the unchanging teaching and traditions of the Roman Catholic faith, but in fact shall so act as to insure their education in this way…the non Catholic swears that he/she in no way will hinder the Catholic spouse, either by word or deed or pressure in the practice of his/her traditional Roman Catholic faith…In practice of this faith by the Catholic spouse, the non Catholic will not only not interfere but will cooperate with the Catholic and make whatsoever sacrifices are necessary to assist the Catholic.”

Now here is what happens.
Norms of ecumenism
151. In carrying out this duty of transmitting the Catholic faith to the children, the Catholic parent will do so with respect for the religious freedom and conscience of the other parent and with due regard for the unity and permanence of the marriage and for the maintenance of the communion of the family. If, notwithstanding the Catholic’s best efforts, the children are not baptized and brought up in the Catholic Church, the Catholic parent does not fall subject to the censure of Canon Law."

Now nothing happens if the children are not baptized or raised Catholic and the Catholic parent should respect the “religious freedom and conscience of the other parent”

continue–

Now in a mixed marriage the Catholic must get permission, have a reasonable cause, and only make a sincere promise that the children are baptized and brought up Catholic. The non-Catholic makes no promises. Only the Catholic party. If these obligations are not met by the Catholic party there is no violation of any law.
MIXED MARRIAGES
Can. 1124 Without express permission of the competent authority, a marriage is prohibited between two baptized persons of whom one is baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it after baptism and has not defected from it by a formal act and the other of whom is enrolled in a Church or ecclesial community not in full communion with the Catholic Church.
Can. 1125 The local ordinary can grant a permission of this kind if there is a just and reasonable cause. He is not to grant it unless the following conditions have been fulfilled:
1/ the Catholic party is to declare that he or she is prepared to remove dangers of defecting from the faith and is to make a sincere promise to do all in his or her power so that all offspring are baptized and brought up in the Catholic Church;
2/ the other party is to be informed at an appropriate time about the promises which the Catholic party is to make, in such a way that it is certain that he or she is truly aware of the promise and obligation of the Catholic party;
3/ both parties are to be instructed about the purposes and essential properties of marriage which neither of the contracting parties is to exclude.

Somehow the Church now believes that mixed marriages are good for ecumenism.

Norms of ecumenism
145. In view, however, of the growing number of mixed marriages in many parts of the world, the Church includes within its urgent pastoral solicitude coup- les preparing to enter, or already having entered, such marriages. These marriages, even if they have their own particular difficulties, "contain numerous elements that could well be made good use of and develop both for their intrinsic value and for the contribution they can make to the ecumenical movement…
You honestly can say the Church’s teaching on mixed marriages hasn’t been liberalized?

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