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What To Do When a Baptized Catholic Marries Outside the Church


Just married couple, holding hands and walking in nature

There has never been a marriage debate — no matter what the Supreme Court has decided on the constitutionality of same-sex “marriage” — in the Catholic Church.

“Many people want it to be a debate, but you can’t call it something it’s not — it’s not marriage,” said Jesuit Father Mitch Pacwa, author, apologist and host for EWTN radio and TV, of same-sex “marriage.”

According to him, there is only one marriage debate for Catholics, and it’s something that comes up regularly on his radio show: “Is it okay to attend a wedding when a baptized Catholic gets married outside of the Church?”

The reason behind the debate is because the Code of Canon Law states: “Only those marriages are valid which are contracted before the local [bishop], pastor or a priest or deacon delegated by either of them who assist, and before two witnesses” (1108 §1).

Canon law does not prohibit Catholics from attending invalid weddings, Father Pacwa explained, but he said that Catholics must discern carefully. “Every situation will call upon our reserves of prayer, discernment and evaluation,” he said. “And a good confession before making any decision is always a good idea.”

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