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Mary Woolley wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Is it right for a practicing Roman Catholic to be a witness at an adulterous marriage?
  • Should they take their 7 and 8 year-olds with them?

My husband and I feel it is wrong to attend but would like to know what the official line is.

Our parish priest is very vague.

Many thanks,


  { Is it right for a practicing Roman Catholic to be a witness at an adulterous marriage? }

Mary Ann replied:

Hi, Mary —

You have to be specific. When you say adulterous marriage, you have to specify why and what the relation of the couple is to the Catholic Church.

If the couple is not Catholic, then it is fine to attend, as they are presumably in good faith.

Attendance is different from being an official witness, however. Whether or not you could do that would depend on circumstances you have not described.

Mary Ann

Mary replied:

Dear Mary Ann,

Since sending my e-mail we have talked at great length with our parish priest and have come to the decision that we must follow our conscience and not what is expected of us.

We do appreciate the time you took to help us.

Thanks for everything.

Kind regards,

Mary Woolley

Mary Ann replied:


It is good that you're following your conscience, especially in a case in which there is no absolute rule and the particulars are known only to you.

The only absolute rule is that Catholics may not be official witnesses at the invalid wedding of a Catholic.

Mary Ann

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