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WantACatholicWeddingBut wrote:

Hi, guys —

Both my fiancé and I are in our 60's and free to marry in the Catholic Church. We want the sacrament of marriage, but do not want a civil ceremony. Due to our age, a civil ceremony will impact Social Security, Medicare and taxes, both state and federal.

  • Why does the Catholic Church insist on having the civil and religious ceremony bound together?
  • Is there a way of finding a priest who will officiate at the sacrament and not require the civil paperwork?

WantACatholicWeddingBut

  { Why does the Catholic Church insist on having the civil and religious ceremony bound together? }

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Dear WantACatholicWeddingBut —

The Church insists on the civil Marriage as well because it is consistent with our theology of recognizing all Marriages as natural marriage and therefore valid. (i.e. two Jews married by a Rabbi is a valid natural marriage.) The two are not two separate things —

Catholic Marriage involves cultural marriage and sharing ones goods and entire life and assets.

Can you find a priest? — I hope not.

Fr. Jonathan

Mary Ann replied:

Dear WantACatholicWeddingBut —

In some nations, the Catholic marriage is not recognized at all, only the civil ceremony is, so accepting the Church's witness of a marriage is an act of respect by the civil authority, and also a recognition that marriage is inherently sacred and prior to the state.

That said, in a nation which discounts the religious service, there may, at times, be serious reasons for a couple to marry religiously and not have the political "ceremony". In these cases,
for serious reason, the Church may perform her marriage in secret and the couple may not have
a civil process.

Also, I believe that in the U.S., the Church is required by law to fill out the civil documents at the time of the marriage, unless the civil marriage has preceded the sacramental one.

Mary Ann

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