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Christopher wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am a non-baptized Catechumen. My wife was baptized Armenian Orthodox early in life. She also had received her First Communion in the Catholic Church. Her parents didn't really practice the faith and she was away from the Church. We were married in a Protestant church that practices Trinitarian baptism. We are both earnestly seeking to join and become active in the Church but have an ongoing nagging question:

  • Are we married?
  • Or am I, being currently unbaptized, causing her to sin?

Christopher

  { As a non-baptized Catechumen married to a baptized Armenian Orthodox are we married? }

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Dear Chris,

This is a really complicated case. I will give it my best shot from my head but, if I were truly working your case, I would be consulting my colleagues — it is that complicated.

You need to speak with your priest first but, frankly, most priests would not fully understand this case so I would recommend your priest get advice from their Chancery or by calling a Canon Lawyer. If this doesn't make sense, you could show my answer to the priest.

First, I am not going to call it sin as you have to know you are sinning to sin.

Your wife is still Armenian Orthodox so, even though she didn't know it, she was bound by their law when she married you.

Since she didn't have her Church’s blessing, and since the Catholic Church recognizes the Orthodox Form of Marriage, your marriage is invalid in the Armenian Orthodox Church and consequently it is invalid in our Church so, no, you are not validly married.

Assuming this is both of yours first and only Marriages:

She needs to become an "Armenian Catholic" first, by a profession of faith. Your Roman Catholic priest can do that. Then I can imagine three possibilities to make your marriage valid once she has done that first step:

  1. Your priest helps her connect with the Armenian Catholic Church and they validate your marriage with the proper dispensation for Disparity of Cult.

  2. Your priest helps her switch from Armenian Catholic to The Latin Rite Catholic followed by validating your marriage but that could take a lot of time as it involves the hierarchies of both Churches.

  3. (This one is a bit creative) During your ceremony where you become a Catholic, between your Baptism and your receiving Holy Communion, she officially switches to the Rite of her husband (you) and then you validate your marriage right then and there.

I told you it was really complicated.

The bottom line: Talk to your priest about all this or go directly to you Diocese Tribunal and have them talk to your priest.

Again, it may be easier to print this web posting out and bring it to the priest.

Fr. Jonathan

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