Post # 1
I was wondering if any of you have any advice or could outline what one would need to do to get married in a Catholic Church. My fiancee is Catholic although he has not attended in quite some time because he has been living in a new city (Toronto) for the past 10 years or so. We would really like to get married in a Catholic church but are uncertain of whether we can (since we haven’t been part of a church) and what we have to do.
I am of Hindu faith so we will be having two ceremonies . While I am ok with the other covenants of the Catholic church I am not prepared to convert at this point.
So my questions are:
1. How would we approach churches in our area?
2. Can we realsitically expect any of them to marry us if we haven’t been active churchgoers?
3. Will me not being Catholic be a huge complication?
Any advice would be most appreciated.
Post # 3
It won’t be a huge complication, there will just be some paperwork to fill out.
You may have a sticky-wicket with the 2 ceremonies thing – the Catholic Church prefers that you have one ceremony, even if it is not a Catholic ceremony. The local church may explain to you that they prefer to just give you permission to have the Hindu rite. If you get the OK from the local Catholic bishop, then you will be validlly married in the Catholic Church even if it’s a completely Hindu ceremony.
They don’t like the 2 ceremonies thing because having one after the other kind of implies that the first wedding didn’t “take” or something. Their idea is that being married is like being pregnant – either you are or you aren’t. They wouldn’t do two wedding ceremonies for you unless a divorce came in between!
Post # 4
And also, many churches require you to be an active member before they will start wedding arrangements, although sometimes exceptions will be made! In my diocese it is typically six months of going to Mass every week and contributing to the parish.
Post # 5
@Magdalena: Actually the Catholic church would not do a wedding if there was a divorce either…the marriage would have to be anulled.
The church only allows one ceremony because marriage is a sacrament that can be received only once, like baptism. Also, if your FI wants a Catholic mass, they won’t do it unless you convert. The Church will convalidate a marriage, so you could do the Hindu ceremony and have in convalidated…but I don’t see a scenario where you could have a ceremony in a Catholic church at all unless you converted, received the sacraments of baptism, first communion, and confirmation and took pre-cana classes.
But if it’s important to your husband, there are lots of other denominations which will perform marriage rites and don’t have the strict rules of the RCC. I’m guessing your FI already knows he can’t get married to you in the church, he has already decided to marry a non-catholic. Plenty of other options out there if you wanted to do a Hindu ceremony and then a Chrisian ceremony!
Post # 6
@MightySapphire: it’s true there would be an annulment, but there would have to be a divorce too! The RCC won’t allow an annulment to go forward unless the couple have first obtained a divorce.
There are frequently weddings in Catholic churches where one party is non-Catholic. It is an EXTREMELY common situation. It is also possible to have a Catholic ceremony when one party is non-Catholic. In these situations the Eucharist is simply dropped from the ceremony. They can still have a Mass if they desire it but it’s strongly suggested it be skipped as it’s rather awkward for the non-Catholic and their family. There are absolutely no requirements for the non-Catholic spouse to convert or promise to raise the children Catholic.
When one party is not baptized, the marriage is not “sacramental” but it is 100 percent a valid marriage in the eyes of the church. The rules are really not that strict at all!
The US Bishops have a section on their website that directly addresses interfaith marriages and shows how it’s quite possible to make this work. They have sub-sections specifically dealing with Catholic-Jewish and Catholic-Muslim weddings, but most of what they say applies to Hindu-Catholic marriages too!
Post # 7
A marriage between a Catholic and a non-baptized person (i.e. a Hindu) is called a natural marriage. It is not sacramental but valid. Such a marriage can happen in a Catholic church but cannot take place as part of a Nuptial Mass – it has to be a Rite of Marriage without Mass only.
@MightySapphire: It would make no sense for a Roman Catholic to marry in a non-Catholic church.
Post # 8
1. Honesty! It isn’t uncommon (though definitely not encouraged!!) for people to become members of a parish around the time they are looking at getting married. Some are strict about requiring people to become members of a parish to be married there. But since people are usually moving around and haven’t settled down before marriage, its not uncommon for people to not already be members of a parish yet. Just explain to the church secretary your situation.
2. Every parish is a bit different on this. I’ve never heard of a church requiring active participation in order to be married, but it will definitely be encouraged. I really doubt that they will say “well, haven’t seen you here before, so no, sorry!” Everything in Catholicism tends to be a process or a journey, so its not really a yes or no type question.
3. It shouldn’t be. It think you will need to et a Dispensation for Disparity of Worship. It shouldn’t be a problem though, and the church secretary will help you out with it. Also, if you do get married in a Catholic church, you will be required to do some sort of pre marital counseling.
Post # 9
Technically, you can’t be turned away from marriage because of a lack of recent attendance at Mass. A Catholic can visit the confessional and be absolved of the sin of missing Mass, then there’s no difference between that person and someone who has gone every week for 20 years.
Also, you can’t be denied for not being an active parishioner. Geographical areas are split up by churches, and each church has jurisdiction over its specfic area. When a new church is built, the bishop will say something like “This church is built to serve the needs of those Catholics living in the area between 5th Street and 10th Street and from Main Street to Oak Street”. Then, all Catholics living in that area are automatically parishioners of that church, even if they don’t know it and never visit that church. So no matter where you live, your fiance is a member of a church.
Where churches sometimes make a distinction is between “active parishioner” and others. The reason is that an active parishioner is assumed to have donated money to the building, operation, and maintenance of that parish over time, and so should get to use the church either first (i.e. they get first dibs on dates) or they get to use the church for free (or at below cost). Others are assumed to have not donated to the parish so they are charged the cost for use of the building (lights and airconditioning aren’t cheap). So if you’re getting married at a place other than his geographical parish or if he isn’t registered and actively a part of his geographical parish, you can expect an increased price for the use of a church (though you won’t be denied).
As far as converting, no one needs to convert to be married. You will need special permission from the bishop for your marriage, but as long as you agree to allow your future husband to raise your children in his faith, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Post # 10
1. Getting married in a church where you aren’t members: We got married at a church far away from our home where we were not members (and neither were our family). Just approach churches and ask what their requirements are to get married there (do you have to be a member, and if so, for how long, are contributions required). It differs from church to church whether they will let non-members get married there. Usually it costs a bit more than if you are a member, but it is certainly possible.
2. Being an active churchgoer: Obviously you would not be expected to go to Catholic church (or be expected to convert), but I think there is some expectation that your fiance would go to church regularly. I think they expect that if a Catholic wedding is important to you, then being Catholic is important enough to you to warrant attending mass regularly. Engagement is a great time to get in touch with your faith.
3. Your not being Christian will not present a huge problem to marriage in the Catholic church. There’s extra paperwork, definitely, but you won’t have to convert. As others have said, you will be able to have the Rite of Marriage, but not the full mass (which includes communion). To be married in the Catholic church you do have to promise to raise your children Catholic. You can read about this in the Catechism (basically, the handbook for Catholic doctrine) here: http://www.usccb.org/catechism/text/pt2sect2chpt3art7.shtml . Section 1635 mentions raising children Catholic in mixed marriages (which is the term for a marriage between a Catholic and a non-Christian). Good luck!