Holy Matrimony: Questions and Answers
We’ve been preparing a lot of Couples for Holy Matrimony! There are always a lot of good questions that people hope to find answers to. Here is a sample of the Questions and Answers prepared by the Catholic Bishops on their website http://www.foryourmarriage.org
Q: If a Catholic wants to marry a non-Catholic, how can they assure that the marriage is recognized by the Church?
In addition to meeting the criteria for a valid Catholic marriage, the Catholic must seek permission from the local bishop to marry a non-Catholic. If the person is a non-Catholic Christian, this permission is called a “permission to enter into a mixed marriage.” If the person is a non-Christian, the permission is called a “dispensation from disparity of cult.” Those helping to prepare the couple for marriage can assist with the permission process.
Q: If two Catholics or a Catholic and non-Catholic are married invalidly in the eyes of the church, what should they do about it?
They should approach their pastor to try to resolve the situation.
Q: When a Catholic marries a non-Catholic, must the non-Catholic promise to raise the children in the Catholic faith?
The non-Catholic spouse does not have to promise to have the children raised Catholic. The Catholic spouse must promise to do all that he or she can to have the children baptized and raised in the Catholic faith.
Q: What should a couple do when they decide that they want to marry in the Catholic Church?
They should contact their parish as soon as possible and make an appointment to talk with the priest, deacon or staff person who is responsible for preparing couples for marriage. This person will explain the process of marriage preparation and the various programs that are offered.
Q: Why does the church require engaged couples to participate in a marriage preparation program?
Marriage preparation offers couples the opportunity to develop a better understanding of Christian marriage; to evaluate and deepen their readiness to live married life; and to gain insights into themselves as individuals and as a couple. It is especially effective in helping couples to deal with the challenges of the early years of marriage.
Q: If a marriage is annulled are the children from it considered illegitimate?
No. A declaration of nullity has no effect on the legitimacy of children, since the child’s mother and father were presumed to be married at the time that the child was born.
Q: How can a couple married 20 years get an annulment?
The annulment process examines the events leading up to, and at the time of, the wedding ceremony, in an effort to determine whether what was required for a valid marriage was ever brought about. While a marriage of 20 years provides evidence that a couple had some capacity for a life-long commitment, the duration of their relationship in itself does not prove or negate the existence of the marriage bond.
Q: What can a couple do if their marriage is in trouble?
Parish priests, deacons and other pastoral ministers are available to talk to couples and to refer them to counselors and programs that can assist them. Retrouvaille (Ree-tru-VEYE) is an effective program that helps to heal and renew marriages in serious trouble. The Third Option is another program that is available in some parts of the country, visit thethirdoption.com for more information.