Two Catholics having a civil marriage, then getting married in the Church?

When my parents got married, they first got a civil marriage administered by the state because they didn’t want to go 12 months without being married that the Priest wanted them to wait and go through marriage classes before their marriage. They were still going to go through with the Catholic marriage, but they got married in the courts first. So they got married in the courts and took the classes and after the 12 months was up got married in the Church.

Now my question is, during that 12 months where they were taking classes and waiting, were they in a state of excommunication from the church?

I would think they were in a state of sin during that time. The same thing happened to my parents. Their problem being my Dad wasn’t Catholic. He converted later on and I am “assuming” they were then married in the Church. I really hadn’t thought of checking that til now.

They were not excommunicated per se, but if they were living unchastely, they would have been in a state of sin.

during the 12 months they were not married at all, since they were Catholics and bound by canon law on marriage. They were not excommunicated unless were of age and voluntarily committed some sin that results in automatic excommunication. Since that is completely private there is no way any one would know that outside the confessional, nor is it proper to even speculate. In any case, the marriage situation of any other couple cannot be judged by anyone other than the couple themselves and the legitimate Church authority, nor is it proper to even speculate.
There is no way to know all the facts of a specific situation, so there is no way to judge. We assume the very best possible interpretation of any situation we observe, that in this instance the couple followed the best pastoral advice they had, and did their best to behave correctly. We. Do. Not. Judge.

note to children: your parents marital status is their business, not yours, and not at all unless and until it impinges on your status. Since it does not impinge on your status, keep out of it.

Excellent advice Annie. I am constantly suprised at how often adult children on these forums ask questions and make speculations about their parent’s marraige status and the status of their friends, siblings, and cousins marriages.

If someone asks you about their marriage, please refer them to a priest. If they don’t ask, please assume all is well and stay out. You can certainly ask a gentle question or two, invite them to dinner at the same time that you invite your favorite priest, or something along those lines. But in general, we should not be speculating or gossiping about other people’s sins, marriage status, recent confession, or anything of the kind.

No, being married outside the Church does not ex communicate someone from the Church.

Laws in some places, such as Germany, require all persons to have a civil marriage, as religious ceremonies have no legal effect.

Even Catholic must do this.

I know a case of a couple of Russian emigres living in Virginia on student visas. The Orthodox Church they attended was in West Virginia (the nearest one).

Under the circumstances they were married civilly in Virginia that morning and then that afternoon had the Church wedding in their parish in West Virginia.

:popcorn: My late parents did the same thing. My dad was in the AirForce, when he was sent to the University of Buffalo and worked the ROTC program. While in Buffalo, he met my mother by chance one day while in the bookstore owned by some friends, who my mother also just happend to know.
They got married by a justice of the peace in a town near Buffalo in 1955,forgot the exact date, and I was born,June 9,1956.
Later on, my dad who was a master sargenant, got sent to KellyAFB here in San Antonio
where he worked in military intelligence at Security Service.
Then sometime after momma and daddy had lived here awhile, they were married with some friends as witnesses in the National Shrine of the Little Flower down on Kentucky St. by Father Hilary Smith,O.C.D. I have a copy of this.

Elts1956, similar thing with my dad’s parents. I have their marriage license from Milwaukee from 1915.Now, grandpa was a Catholic and grandma was Lutheran,but she agreed to raise any children(my dad and Uncle Tom) as catholics.She also converted later on.Did they have a church wedding, don’t know.Never thought to ask my dad that one.

To me, I never have worried about whether my parents were considered living in sin by the church before they were married in Her. It’s not important to me, with all the wars and killing,and abused children and other things out there, this is trival stuff.
I try to contribute money to various organizations run by Holy Mother Church to help those in need and even groups like Doctors without Borders,becuase I work two jobs and it is hard for me to volunteer. But when and if I get all my debts paid off,and can finally retire, I plan to volunteer, especially working to be a child advocate or help prevent elder abuse.

Enjoy your parents while you have them with you.Mine are buried down at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, and I try to see them whenever I can.Took my dad a plant for Father’s Day.
Whatever happend in those 12 months before they got married in the Church is between them and Jesus, and He is most merciful and forgiving.So don’t worry about this business with your parents.

Last Friday I went into the confession booth and the Priest would not absolve my sin because my second marriage after being widowed was outside the chruch. The priest play the rules right down to the wire on that one, and of course, they are all over the map on the other stuff that we read about.


As long as they were not living together or acting as though they were validly Married, no sin is committed, a person is not excommunicated for this, it would be a Mortal sin however and prevent them for receiving any Sacraments.

I got married in a civil ceremony last Sept. We did so b/c my MIL is sick with cancer and we wanted to make sure she could be there, and the Catholic church generally requires at least 6 months notice to arrange a wedding so that wouldn’t work. We will be getting married in the Church this coming Sept., one year later. My priest did not chew us out for this, and said that “you are married, the church just doesn’t recognize it yet.” He did not say that we could not receive communion, and even arranged my first communion and confirmation for me (I had been baptized as an infant, but did not go beyond that. I did my communion and confirmation earlier this month). As far as I’m aware, two Catholics marrying in a civil marriage is considered a “non marriage” to the church… if it were a Catholic and non-Catholic then it would be an “invalid marriage.”

Two Catholics attempting to Marry outside of the laws of the Catholic Church is an irregular marriage, a Catholic and a Baptized non-Catholic Christian is an irregular marriage. A Catholic who attempts a Marriage with a non-Baptized person without a dispensation from their Bishop is in an Invalid Marriage. In all of these cases the Catholic should not approach Holy Communion until their Marriage situation is addressed and is corrected.

He did you a disservice. He should have told you the truth and heard your confession before the sacramental marriage or the other sacraments if they came first. He probably wanted to be kind but to be honest you need to confess the invalid marriage. He should have told you to separate or at least live as brother and sister if you had been engaging in the marital act after the civil ceremony. Something else you should have confessed. We cannot receive the grace from a Sacrament if we have mortal sin on our souls. If you haven’t been to confession throughout this whole process then you have not properly received the grace from any other sacrament you have received.

Wait a minute, to be a mortal sin it must meet certain conditions two of which are knowledge and intent. While a certain action would be a mortal sin for you, you cannot pronounce it so for someone else since you don’t know their disposition at the time of the action.

At prior times in the history of the Catholic Church, there were various excommunications for Catholics marrying outside the Church, provided other conditions were met. To answer the question definitively would require knowing when the marriage took place, in order to ascertain which canon law applied at the time, and whether those other conditions were met.

Possibly. Perhaps the Priest deemed the poster to be in some kind of ignorance of the sinfulness of the situation from what actually took place in thier discussion. That isn’t implied though. The poster seems to acknowledge making a decision. Getting married in the church is one of those basic rules that we are expected to know. The poster’s words imply that the priest thought it was no big deal. He left a wrong impression. That there was nothing wrong with what was
done. That was a disservice.

I appreciate the warning to not rush to declaring a mortal sin.

I guess you must have explained about your MIL, to Father, and it was good that he understood your reasons for doing things the way you did.Sometimes things happen in life over which we have no control. I hardly think Our Dear Lord Jesus would condem you for your actions. i don’t think Father did you a diservice as Seatuck seems to think.
Thank goodness there are priests like yours who have some understanding of the problems ordinary parshioners may face in their lives.
There are clergy members and religious who have no clue or little compassion for what the laity sometimes go through, and everthing must be by the book,etc.etc. or you are going to hell. That’s why I understand people get angry with the church when it comes to marriage and some other things,which is sad,but it happens.

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