Is Marriage Valid : LUSENET : Catholic : One Thread

Question: 1. Is my marriage valid in churches eyes? 2. Am I a Catholic in good standing?

Facts: I am Catholic, married in 1976 in Greek Orthodox Church. Married to person who was previously married in Greek Orthodox church and had marriage properly divorced and annulled under Greek Orthodox church rules. At this point my wives previous spouse is dead.

I do not want or plan to be remarried in the Catholic Church, but do want to fully practice in Catholic Church. In my eyes to be remarried in Catholic Church would be to cheapen and say my beautiful 26 year married performed in Greek Orthodox church is not valid and somehow was a sin.

-- Michael (, December 16, 2002


Hi Michael,

I do believe that the Catholic Church recognizes the sacraments of the Greek Orthodox Church in which case your marriage is valid. (If I am wrong, please someone correct me!)Have you ever thought of a renewal of your marriage vows in the Catholic Church for your anniversary? Congrats for 26 years of fidelity! If you are still wondering, you should ask some specialist in Cannon & Church Law at the offices of your diocese.

God Bless, and blessed Christmas,



-- Joe Biltz (jcb@aol.nm), December 16, 2002.

Hello, Michael.

Joe was right to say that the Catholic Church recognizes Eastern Orthodox marriages to be sacramental (and presumtively valid).

However, you said that you are Catholic and your marriage took place in an Orthodox ceremony in 1976. Excuse me if I am assuming too much, but I have to assume (1) that you did not have your bishop's permission to marry in a non-Catholic ceremony and (2) that maybe the "ex-husband" of the woman you love was still alive in 1976.

If my assumptions are correct, then, according to Church law, you may not have entered into a valid sacramental union 26 years ago. In other words, you needed to have the Catholic bishop's permission to be married in an Orthodox ceremony, and your loved one may have needed a Declaration of Nullity from the Catholic Church (not just from the Orthodox) before you could be sure that she was free to marry. I'm sorry, but I don't know if our Church accepts Orthodox Declarations of Nullity.

-- J. F. Gecik (, December 17, 2002.

Oops! I accidentally hit the "Submit" button prematurely.

Well, now that the husband is dead, his wife is, without question, free to be married to you, and no Declaration of Nullity is required. Joe is right to say that you need an official judgment as to what is proper next, but I think that you will probably need to renew your vows in the presence of a Catholic priest and witnesses. I don't think that it needs to be in a large public ceremony, though. Please let us know what you find out. I am very curious about it, and we may have similar questions asked here in the future.

God bless you.

-- J. F. Gecik (, December 17, 2002.

Just a question. If there were marriages before the Catholic Church started, then why do they have to follow the Catholic church's sacraments in order to be valid ?

-- Oliver Fischer (, December 18, 2002.

Further question...since originally married to a then divorced person although annulled in Greek Orthodox in 1976, prior to change in church rules, in 1977, my understanding I was excommunicated when married in 1976.

When the church changed rules in 1977 on excommunication, was I restored to being a Catholic in good standing? Am I currently a Catholic in good standing able to receive the sacraments.

Some people have said I need to renew vows to church. I have only one problem, I strongly believe I was right in my 1976 decision to be married outside church, which at that time Bishop would not approve. My decision seemed to be supported by Church's change in rules in 1977. I have no problem renewing my church vows, but will never do or say anything to imply my decision to marry outside church in 1976 was wrong.

-- Michael (, December 18, 2002.

Oliver, you wrote: "If there were marriages before the Catholic Church started, then why do they have to follow the Catholic Church's sacraments in order to be valid?"

That's a question for you to ask Jesus, since he instituted the Sacrament of Marriage for Christians. Prior to Jesus (and even today, outside of Christianity), marriage was/is not a "sacrament."

Michael, this is at least the fourth time that you have brought your marital situation to this forum. Didn't you read any of the messages that people wrote in response to you? Please click here to see your previous thread, from some time ago, which contains links to your earlier threads!
Why in the heck are you doing this stupid thing to us? Just get in there and take the vows and be done with it already. Swallow your darned pride.

God bless you.

-- (, December 18, 2002.

John, you wrote in response to Oliver’s post:

"That's a question for you to ask Jesus, since he instituted the Sacrament of Marriage for Christians. Prior to Jesus (and even today, outside of Christianity), marriage was/is not a "sacrament.""

When was it that Christ instituted the Sacrament of Marriage for Christians? Was it after his birth?

Do you have Church documents to show that Marriage prior to Christ's birth wasn't a "sacrament"? Or could you at least back up your statement?

I'm asking because the way I see it is that Christ (who was with God and is God from the beginning) instituted Marriage at the Creation of man. This is why Christ said, "What God has joined let no man tear apart…”. Before this He makes reference to Genesis “And He answered and said, "Have you not read (5) that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE…” I don’t think that Christ necessarily had to be alive (as in born), or involved in person to institute the Sacraments. Like Baptism – which was instituted by Christ, but administered first by John.

-- Jake Huether (, January 15, 2003.

As I just took the Marriage prep course, I know a little about this. That is, the Sacrament of Marriage is the only Sacrament that is administered by the ones receiving the Sacrament. We “Marry” ourselves. Notice that the priest doesn’t say, “I now pronounce you man and wife”. We pronounce ourselves to be man and wife. The priest later says, “I now present to you Mr. And Mrs.”

Prior to the official wedding ceremony, couples simply Married themselves and were acknowledged by the Church. Similar to how Tobias married Sarah.

So, my response to Oliver would be more along the lines of…

“If there were marriages before the Catholic Church started, then why do they have to follow the Catholic church's sacraments in order to be valid?”

First, they aren’t the “Church’s Sacraments”, they are the Sacraments of humans. That is to say – the Church didn’t make up the Sacraments for her members. Christ instituted them for His Church. It just so happens that many of the Sacraments require someone to stand in the Person of Christ in order to administer it. Second, a Sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give us grace. And as such, a Sacrament doesn’t necessarily need to be administered by a Catholic Priest. It only needs to have been instituted by Christ. Sacraments only need a priest when there is a specific role in the Sacrament, which requires someone to stand in the person of Christ (which only a Catholic Priest can do).

-- Jake Huether (, January 15, 2003.

For example: Reconciliation requires a priest to hear the Confession, because he is standing in for Christ. Communion requires a priest, because when he consecrates the bread and it becomes the Body and Blood of Jesus he is standing in for Christ. Confirmation: The Bishop, who stands in the person of Christ, imparts the “seal” of the Holy Spirit on us.

Baptism is another Sacrament that wasn’t administered by Christ! Although it is suggested, and highly recommended, that a priest administer it, it may – in grave circumstances – be administered by the laity. Therefore, if it were administered correctly, even Protestant baptisms are valid. They are only invalid, when administered incorrectly.

Marriage is similar: They aren’t necessarily invalid just because it wasn’t done in the Catholic Church. The Sacrament is valid when the two validly Marry eachother. In the Catholic Marriage, the Priest is simply the main witness to the couple. Therefore, a marriage is invalid only when the couple (catholic or not) invalidly married eachother.

We see, however, as of late in particular, that most non-Catholic Marriages ARE indeed invalid. But not because they aren’t Catholic, rather, because without the classes and preparation of the Catholic Church for the couples – most really and honestly don’t know what they are doing.

-- Jake Huether (, January 15, 2003.

So, you see..? Most Sacraments can only be received validly within the Catholic Church not because the Catholic Church holds the Sacraments, but because in order for it to be valid there is the need for a Catholic Priest (who stands in the person of Christ). There are also Sacraments (like marriage and baptism) which don’t necessarily need a Catholic Priest to be present, and therefore could be (but not always are) valid even outside the Church.

Hope this helps.

In Christ.

-- Jake Huether (, January 15, 2003.

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