Valid Marriage or is not recognized by the Catholic Church


Just some background info…my dad is Catholic (Easter and Christmas mass only) and my mom is a Lutheran who does not practice either. They were both married in the Lutheran Church. My dad informed me that he did not get a dispensation from his priest or bishop in the Catholic Church. I was reading a Catholic book on marriage and it mentioned that if a Catholic marries a non catholic, but they are still a baptized Christian their marriage is only valid or recognized if the Catholic gets a dispensation from the bishop or priest. Than the book said the Catholic Church recoginzes 2 non-catholic christian marriages as valid, but than why would they not reccommend my parents marriage as valid? Or is it valid? Anyone who knows canon law can you please shed light on this, for this is very hurtful to me to know that my parents are not “spiritual” married in they eyes of the Catholic Church. Thank you!

This is a very complicated issue. From what you say, it would seem that the Catholic Church would not regard your parent’s marriage as valid, as your father was a Catholic who did not marry according to Church teaching.

This has no effect on you, regarding your status with the Catholic Church.

For references, see Canon Law para 1055ff. and the Catechism para 1601ff.

The answer does not makes any change related to you. You are child of your parents, you had to love them, provide for them when they will be old, and God loves you whatever is their legal status.

This is correct. Two non-Catholics who are otherwise free to marry do so validly when they marry civilly.

Because your father is a Catholic and therefore bound by Catholic canon law. Canon law requires a Catholic to marry in the Catholic form-- before a priest and two witnesses-- and to complete the proper paperwork to marry a non-Catholic and to receive a dispensation if they want to marry in the non-Catholic’s place of worship.

No, it isn’t. Your father can correct this issue by seeing his priest regarding convalidation. But, if he does not regularly attend Mass, he has additional issues.

Here are the relevant canons:

Can. 1059 Even if only one party is Catholic, the marriage of Catholics is governed not only by divine law but also by canon law, without prejudice to the competence of civil authority concerning the merely civil effects of the same marriage.

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.

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.

§2. If grave difficulties hinder the observance of canonical form, the local ordinary of the Catholic party has the right of dispensing from the form in individual cases, after having consulted the ordinary of the place in which the marriage is celebrated and with some public form of celebration for validity. It is for the conference of bishops to establish norms by which the aforementioned dispensation is to be granted in a uniform manner.

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