Reply To: Witnessing a marriage

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[quote:rpdarj1b]It is interesting to me as a Protestant believer that Joanlee cannot be a bridesmaid.[/quote:rpdarj1b]
If a marriage is invalid, it is not a sacrament. To put it more simply, if a marriage is invalid, it is not a marriage at all. If her sister is married invalidly, she will be ‘living in sin’ with this man even while thinking she is married.

Joanlee, if she knows beforehand that the marriage will be invalid, cannot attend the wedding because in our culture that is construed as a sign of condoning the wedding (to some degree). To condone the wedding would be to give her sister the impression that her marriage is valid and, thus, would reinforce her entrance into a life of sin.

Now, the Church’s rules for the form of marriage only applies to Catholics. If two Hindus marry, it is presumed sacramental because God is working in their lives as He will. But when one or both parties to the marriage are Catholic, they are beholden to the rules set forth by His Church. A dispensation excuses a Catholic from such rule (being married in a Catholic church; marrying another Catholic; etc).

What Joanlee’s sister has to do in order to marry this man is either follow the rules set forth by the Church (obtaining a dispensation for her marriage to an unbaptized man, marrying outside a Catholic church, etc) or renounce her membership in the Church, thus removing herself from the Church’s jurisdiction (so to speak).

As I expressed above, the second option is by far the least desireable as it is a grave sin.

[quote:rpdarj1b]I’m curious how the Catholic authorities deal with this situation in our present cultural context[/quote:rpdarj1b]
This is why I said I am not a people person. I have no idea how the pastoral side of this issue is typically handled. I am sure that in many cases, the Catholic associate still attends the wedding, with or without expressing his feelings to the Catholic bride/groom. I am sure that in others, the Catholic chooses not to attend, makes his feelings known to the soon-too-be-wed Catholic, and ruptures their relationship.

I recently faced a similar issue. My brother is much like Joanlee’s sister in that he was baptized Catholic but never confirmed and even less active in his faith (we never attended Catholic school or mass as children). He married a Catholic woman overseas. I am 99% certain he did not go through the appropriate channels when he got married. When I next see him, I will ask him about the details of his marriage and inform him of what, if anything, he might need to do to validate his marriage in the Church. Whether he does is up to him.

[quote:rpdarj1b]Still, does context define the application of your practice (concerning baptized believer marrying an un-baptized believer) in the Catholic Church today?[/quote:rpdarj1b]
I am not certain what you are asking here.

In order for a Catholic to marry an un-baptized believer, he must obtain a dispensation from the bishop. This is done (in part) because a Catholic is required to raise his children in the Catholic faith and that can cause a conflict in the home when one parent is not Christian (or a Christian-believer who does not believe in regeneration through baptism, one of the key tenets of Catholicism and of supreme importance concerning one’s children). The dispensation is to be granted after investigating the other partner’s beliefs and acceptance of the Catholic partner’s obligations to his faith. If the un-baptized partner were to refuse to allow his spouse to raise their children in the Church, no dispensation would be granted.

Further than that, however, is beyond my knowledge at present. My studies have, ironically, not focused on the most common area of American Catholic apologetics – explaining Catholic marriage requirements to Catholics. In traditionally Catholic countries they typically have a broader knowledge base.