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Jennifer Dcosta wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • I just want to clarify if a person is marrying a non-Catholic and they first want to marry in a temple, mosque, or synagogue, does the Catholic Church have any restrictions or laws which would require them to first marry in the Church before marrying somewhere else?
  • Is the marriage considered valid if they marry outside the Church first, before marrying in the Church?
  • Is it OK for the parents and relatives to attend the marriages in temples, mosques, or synagogues?

Jennifer

  { Is it OK for a person to first get married in a temple, mosque, or synagogue before the Church? }

Paul replied:

Dear Jennifer,

Presuming the person you speak of is Catholic, he or she may exchange the marriage vows to a non-Catholic Christian and in a non-Catholic place of worship with a dispensation and with a Catholic witness in the form of a priest or deacon to officially represent the Church.

If the Catholic is marrying a non-baptized person such as a Jew or a Muslim this would be called a disparity of cult and not simply a mixed marriage; and would be considered a valid natural marriage but not a sacramental marriage. There would still need to be an official Catholic witness at the ceremony. You would have to speak to your parish priest or pastor about all of this.

Thanks,

Paul

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Dear Jennifer —

The “official Catholic witness” (preferably a priest or deacon) Paul talks about is encouraged but not necessary for validity.

You said:

  • I just want to clarify if a person is marrying a non-Catholic and they first want to marry in a temple, mosque, or synagogue, does the Catholic Church have any restrictions or laws which would require them to first marry in the Church before marrying somewhere else?

No, the Church would not require this. With the proper dispensations, the Church would recognize the marriage and therefore there would be no need to get married first in the Church.

Actually, although you didn't mean it, the thought implies that the Church would advocate for another marriage ceremony after the Catholic Marriage ceremony which we would never do.

Our requiring that would indicate that there was something incomplete about the Catholic ceremony.

You said:

  • Is the marriage considered valid if they marry outside the Church first, before marrying in the Church?

If they marry outside the Church without the proper dispensation, the marriage is considered invalid and therefore would require another ceremony in the Church to “validate” it.

You said:

  • Is it OK for the parents and relatives to attend the marriages in temples, mosques, or synagogues?

It is perfectly good for them to attend recognized marriages (i.e. with the proper dispensation).

For Catholic parents and/or friends and relatives to attend a wedding where the Catholic is clearly not being married in a valid marriage (i.e. outside the Church without approval of the Church) is a moral judgment call on the part of that Catholic. I personally wouldn't go, but then again, I am a priest and my presence would give the impression that the Church supports the invalid marriage.

If I were a parent, I would make a judgment as to what my presence is saying. What is best for the salvation of my child's soul.

Hope this helps,

Fr. Jonathan

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