If I Marry outside the Church, Can I Still Receive the Sacraments?

Dear Catholic Exchange:

My son is going to be married in 3 weeks by a non-Catholic clergy. His fiancée is not Catholic. What is the status of him being able to remain practicing his faith and receiving sacraments?

Eleanor Douglas

 Dear Eleanor,

Peace in Christ!

Christ’s esteem for the natural institution of marriage is evident in His blessing of the wedding at Cana with a miracle (Jn. 2:1-11). Later in His ministry, when the Pharisees asked Him about the practice of divorce, He declared that God Himself establishes the marriage bond, and that no human being has the power to break it (Mt. 19:3-9; Lk. 16:18). Marriage for Christians was elevated to a supernatural source of grace for the couple. The Church’s concern is to protect the essential ends and properties of marriage. She does this through various regulations, from which a Catholic can be dispensed for good reason.

If your son is Catholic but leaves the Church to marry, without receiving dispensations from his bishop, then he will have to reconcile himself with the Church before he receives Holy Communion. He will need to approach a priest for the sacrament of reconciliation and to regularize his marriage.

A positive approach to this problem is based on the fundamental belief that God has a plan for salvation and marriage is part of His plan. Your son and his fiancée can have a richer life together when it’s oriented toward God. Please see our Faith Fact, Marriage in God’s Plan — Discovering the Power of Marital Love.

United in the Faith,

Eric Stoutz
Information Specialist
Catholics United for the Faith
827 North Fourth Street
Steubenville, OH 43952
800-MY-FAITH (800-693-2484)

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  • Guest

    God loves you .

    A mother, of love, begs in hope for hope.

    She like all of us must take love to prayer in faith, even in the torment of watching beloved forgetting God.

    Then, in love, she must say a prayer and remind her beloved of God, gently, carefully, caringly, persistently; and even confidently that as God wills, God can.

    And, no matter what else happens, that she loves will never be forgotten; and in that of her, her beloved can remember Who else is Love.

    Remember, I love you, too

    Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ,

    Pristinus Sapienter

    (wljewell @catholicexchange.com or … yahoo.com)

  • Guest

    To expand upon the author/respondant's term "regularize his marriage", this involves either a blessing of the marriage by a priest (essentially, being remarried in the Catholic Church) or a petition to the Bishop's office for a radical sanation, which is granted in circumstances where no new consent of the will is needed, the couple agree to certain stipulations, and a few other requirements are met–the priest should be able to help explain this. When my wife and I were married, I was a Methodist in name only and my wife was a nonpracticing Catholic. Since then, I have joined the Catholic Church and we both belong to a local parish. We asked one of the parish priests to help us look into "regularizing" the marriage, and he was very helpful.

  • Guest

    Dear Catholic Exchange I would like to know how to talk to some one if there is something I can not take care of.

  • Guest

    It has always seemed inconsistent to me that those married outside the Church are considered "not validly married" and unable to receive the Sacraments.  And yet, this same marriage needs the scrutiny of the annulment procedure for these same people to re/marry in the Church.  The annulment tribunal operates from the assumption that all marriages are assumed valid ("good and natural" I believe are the words) unless proven otherwise.  It seems strange to me this assumption would be different for Communion …