if a Catholic woman marries a Protestant man, (possibly unbaptised, possibly not), in a non-denominational ceremony, and she is unaware of what a dispensation is, is this marriage invalid?
Regardless of the woman’s knowledge or understanding of Church law regarding marriage, Church law still binds her. It is unfortunate that this woman did not receive a proper Catholic education.
However, if the marriage has already taken place, her situation can be corrected by making an appointment with her priest to discuss having her marriage convalidated.
Yes it is invalid. She should make an appointment to see her priest asap.
So to step forward to accept the Eucharist is a sin even if she has no knowledge of being in a sinful state?
To receive the Eucharist in a state of mortal, but not venial sin, is objectively a mortal sin. Lack of knowledge could reduce her personal culpability.
Never a Catholic so I don’t know the dictionary difference in sins. Is it possible to sin when you don’t know what you are doing is wrong?
If you have no idea that what you’re doing is wrong then it’s not a sin, for you personally. It may be wrong, but if you’re ignorant (which I find mostly hard to believe) it would not be a sin.
The word mortal means deadly, and it refers to serious sins that separate us from a saving relationship with God. To be mortal, there are three requirements for the sin:
- It must objectively be grave (or serious) matter,
- The person committing the sin must have sufficient knowledge of the gravity of the sin, and
- The person committing the sin must freely choose to commit this sin.
If any of these conditions are absent, the sin is not mortal, so will not separate the person from God, but this sin still may have serious consequences and require serious reparation. Such non-mortal sins are called venial sins. If a person does fall out of a saving relationship with God by committing a mortal sin, this can be restored by repenting of the sin and asking God’s forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.