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Basic Questions about Catholic Marriage

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Why does the Catholic church teach that Marriage is until "death do you part"?

This is what is taught in the Bible:  "What God has joined together let no man cast asunder"

Jesus also strongly advises against divorce in the New Testament.

The Catholic church is an orthodox church meaning if Jesus said it, we do it.

So can Catholics divorce each other?

To understand the teaching on this, it must be understood that at a Catholic marriage, there are 2 events taking place. 

  1. A legal binding of a couple by state law
  2. The Sacrament of Matrimony

So the answer to this is yes, Catholics can divorce or break the legal contract but the church may STILL consider them married.

I've heard that 'Annulment' is "Catholic divorce" - is this true?

Certainly NOT!  Annulment has little to do with the act of divorce.  Annulment is the process of determining whether the Sacrament of Matrimony was validly received by the couple at the wedding.

In a situation when a marriage breaks up, it has been found that the couple often did not receive the Sacrament of Matrimony validly.  If this is so, then the couple has never received this Sacrament and both individuals are free to marry again in the church.

Things which make the Sacrament of Matrimony invalidly received are actions like "cohabiting before marriage" and/or consummating the marriage before the wedding.

It should be noted that there are some very difficult marriages in which the couple DID validly receive the Sacrament of Matrimony.  In this case, the church considers the couple still married whether they live together or not and if one or the other individual indulges in an intimate relationship (including sex) with a third party, they are considered to be committing adultery.

The research involved in the annulment process takes about two years - there is also a fee involved.

So if my marriage is annulled does that mean my children were born "out of wedlock"?

Absolutely not.  It just means the parents did not receive the Sacrament of Matrimony validly, but they WERE, never-the-less, married legally through the state, the latter which determines the state of the children as far as "in wedlock".

That being said, I have always felt that there ARE NO "illegitimate children" but only possibly some "illegitimate parents". But then, even IF God allows a pregnancy out of wedlock, it is NOT by chance.  Every pregnancy is a Direct and Planned Act of God REGARDLESS of the circumstances of the parents and it should be received as such.  Remember, God's timing is different from OUR timing!

Is it OK to marry a non Catholic?

Certainly but the church asks that your marriage be witnessed by a Priest and that you raise your children in the Catholic Faith.

Mixed marriages are mixed blessings. They are the means of a high rate of people switching to the Catholic faith but also, the means of lots of people leaving the Catholic faith. 

If the non Catholic party wants to remain in their own faith, respect for both faiths should be taught to the children.  With Mass on Saturday night, it is quite easy to attend the Catholic church as a family on Saturday night and attend the spouse's church as a family on Sunday morning.  Teaching a love of Jesus and a close relationship with Him is always the most important thing.

Why does the church put us through so much now to get married in the church?

This is really the greatest thing for you!  It helps you to strengthen your love, to get to know each other, to prepare for a lifetime together and in some cases, to prevent a mistake from happening.  Embrace this special time together with you and the church - it is enriching in every way!

Do I have to be a member of the parish in which I get married?

Usually although not always.  Maintaining membership in a parish is always very handy for the times of "hatched, matched and dispatched".

If my marriage was NOT annulled but I am divorced, can I receive Communion?

Yes if you are NOT in a sexual relationship with an individual who is NOT your husband.

But that's not fair.  I married a loser but we received the Sacrament validly so does that mean I am doomed to a life alone or no sex?

Well, yes and no.  Sex is only available to less than 25 percent of the population (without committing sin) so although you can have an intimate relationship with another person, you should abstain from sex.   However, you can love another person without sex being involved.  This is in fact, what those folks do in marriages where the male has Erectile Dysfunction.  The most important type of love - that which lasts beyond sex, is "agape love".  (or love within God)

(some of this is written from Catholic layperson's point of view)