Catholic marrying in Greek Orthodox Church : LUSENET : Catholic : One Thread

Hi, I am a Catholic and am engaged to a Greek Orthodox man. We want to have the Marriage Ceremony in a Greek Orthodox Cathedral, yet I want to remain Catholic. Will the Catholic church recognize this as a sacrament of the Catholic Church? Further, my sister-in-law has stated she is going to replace my position of Godmother to one of her childrem because I am not getting married in a Catholic Church. Is this appropriate action on her part?

-- Jeanine (, October 03, 2002


You can get married in an Orthodox church, but you must have a Catholic priest present to witness the marriage, otherwise it's not a Catholic marriage. As far as your sister goes, I don't believe godparents are what if one don't go and get a new one!

-- Christina (, October 03, 2002.


-- ^ (^@^.^), October 04, 2002.


-- > (, October 04, 2002.


Hello, Janka (Jeanine).

According to the Catholic Church's 1983 Code of Canon Law (for the Western/Latin Church), it will be necessary for you to seek (through your pastor) the Catholic bishop's permission to marry in the Orthodox cathedral. It is very likely to be granted without hesitation.

However, if I read the Catholic disciplinary directives correctly, Christina was mistaken in saying that the presence of a Catholic priest at your (Orthodox) wedding is obligatory. That would be true for a wedding in a Protestant community's building, but things are done differently when an Orthodox church is involved -- because the Catholic Church recognizes the validity of the Orthodox priesthood and seven sacraments. An Orthodox church is just that -- a true church (diocese descended from the Apostles) -- but unfortunately in schism from Catholicism because of lack of recognition of the pope as the vicar of Christ and visible head of the universal Church. [Protestant denominations, however, are not called "churches" in official Catholic documents, since they lack apostolicity. Instead, they are called "ecclesial communities."]

Here are some directives on this subject from the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. They come from a 1993 document named "Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism."

"127. A Catholic minister [i.e., bishop/priest/deacon] may be present and take part in the celebration of a marriage being properly celebrated between Eastern Christians or between a Catholic and an Eastern Christian in the Eastern church, if invited to do so by the Eastern Church authority and if it is in accord with the norms given below concerning mixed marriages, where they apply."

"128. A member of an Eastern church may act as bridesmaid or best man at a wedding in a Catholic church; a Catholic also may be bridesmaid or best man at a marriage properly celebrated in an Eastern church. In all cases this practice must conform to the general discipline of both Churches regarding the requirements for participating in such marriages."

"147. ... positive steps should be taken, if possible, to establish contacts [between the Catholic pastor] with the minister of the other Church or ecclesial Community, even if this may not always prove easy. In general, mutual consultation between Christian pastors for supporting such marriages and upholding their values can be a fruitful field of ecumenical collaboration."

"150. When, for a just and reasonable cause, permission for a mixed marriage is requested, both parties are to be instructed on the essential ends and properties of marriage which are not to be excluded by either party. Furthermore, the Catholic party will be asked to affirm, in the form established by the particular law of the Eastern Catholic Churches or by the Episcopal Conference, that he or she is prepared to avoid the dangers of abandoning the faith and to promise sincerely to do all in hisher power to see that the children of the marriage be baptized and educated in the Catholic Church. The other partner is to be informed of these promises and responsibilities. At the same time, it should be recognized that the non-Catholic partner may feel a like obligation because of his/her own Christian commitment. It is to be noted that no formal written or oral promise is required of this partner in Canon Law.

"Those who wish to enter into a mixed marriage should, in the course of the contacts that are made in this connection, be invited and encouraged to discuss the Catholic baptism and education of the children they will have, and where possible come to a decision on this question before the marriage. In order to judge the existence or otherwise of a 'just and reasonable cause' with regard to granting permission for this mixed marriage, the local Ordinary will take account, among other things, of an explicit refusal on the part of the non-Catholic party.

"152. While keeping clearly in mind that doctrinal differences impede full sacramental and canonical communion between the Catholic Church and the various Eastern Churches, in the pastoral care of marriages between Catholics and Eastern Christians, particular attention should be given to the sound and consistent teaching of the faith which is shared by both and to the fact that in the Eastern Churches are to be found "true sacraments, and above all, by apostolic succession, the priesthood and the Eucharist, whereby they are still joined to us in closest intimacy". If proper pastoral care is given to persons involved in these marriages, the faithful of both communions can be helped to understand how children born of such marriages will be initiated into and spiritually nourished by the sacramental mysteries of Christ. Their formation in authentic Christian doctrine and ways of Christian living would, for the most part, be similar in each Church. Diversity in liturgical life and private devotion can be made to encourage rather than hinder family prayer."

"153. A marriage between a Catholic and a member of an Eastern Church is valid if it has taken place with the celebration of a religious rite by an ordained minister, as long as any other requirements of law for validity have been observed. For lawfulness in these cases, the canonical form of celebration is to be observed. Canonical form is required for the validity of marriages between Catholics and Christians of Churches and ecclesial Communities."

"154. The local Ordinary [bishop] of the Catholic partner, after having consulted the Local Ordinary of the place where the marriage will be celebrated, may for grave reasons and without prejudice to the law of the Eastern Churches, dispense the Catholic partner from the observance of the canonical form of marriage. Among these reasons for dispensation may be considered the maintaining of family harmony, obtaining parental consent to the marriage, the recognition of the particular religious commitment of the non-Catholic partner or hisher blood relationship with a minister of another Church or ecclesial Community. Episcopal Conferences are to issue norms by which such a dispensation may be granted in accordance with a common practice."

"156. One must keep in mind that, if the wedding is celebrated with a dispensation from canonical form, some public form of celebration is still required for validity. To emphasize the unity of marriage, it is not permitted to have two separate religious services in which the exchange of consent would be expressed twice, or even one service which would celebrate two such exchanges of consent jointly or successively." "157. With the previous authorisation of the local Ordinary, and if invited to do so, a Catholic priest or deacon may attend or participate in some way in the celebration of mixed marriages, in situations where the dispensation from canonical form has been granted. In these cases, there may be only one ceremony in which the presiding person receives the marriage vows. At the invitation of this celebrant, the Catholic priest or deacon may offer other appropriate prayers, read from the Scriptures, give a brief exhortation and bless the couple."

"160. Although the spouses in a mixed marriage share the sacraments of baptism and marriage, Eucharistic sharing can only be exceptional and in each case the norms stated above concerning the admission of a non-Catholic Christian to Eucharistic communion, as well as those concerning the participation of a Catholic in Eucharistic communion in another Church, must be observed."

God bless you.
Janko (John)

-- J. F. Gecik (, October 05, 2002.

It is not necessary to have a Catholic priest present at the marriage ceremony, or even in the case of a marriage in a protestant church. Once you apply for and are granted a dispensation from Canonical Form, then the rite of marriage as celebrated by the non-Catholic minister is fully acceptable. There is no reason for mixing of rites in any way. The marrying couple are the ministers of the sacrament. The church only claims the right to regulate and witness the marriage ceremony. BTW I am a Catholic married in a Presbyterian service, with the full support of my diocesan authorities. I wish you and your spouse every grace and blessing

-- Colin (, October 09, 2002.

Hello, Colin.

I told Jeanine, "the presence of a Catholic priest [and I meant 'as a witness'] ... is obligatory ... for a wedding in a Protestant community's building".
You then stated: "It is not necessary to have a Catholic priest present at the marriage ceremony, ... even in the case of a marriage in a protestant church."

I want to thank you for this correction. I checked the Code of Canon Law and found that you are correct. The Church does not demand the presence of an ordained Catholic (bishop/priest/deacon) as a witness at a mixed marriage in a non-Catholic ceremony. There need only be witnesses who will attest to the Catholic pastor (for the purpose of record-keeping) that the wedding took place.

Having said that, though, I think that it is uncommon for a such a wedding to occur without the presence of an ordained Catholic man -- minimally in the congregation as a witness, and frequently taking a more prominent part (in an ecumenical spirit), even entering the "sanctuary."

God bless you.

-- (, October 09, 2002.

Hello, I wish you two the best. I did want to sak you the same question though but with a Coptic Orthodox Christian girl. I find myself like her and this Muslim girl.

-- Juan Puente Jr. (, October 21, 2002.

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