Jump to content
becca

Catholic marriage

Recommended Posts

Hi! I'll try to be quick on the back story.  I met my first cousin only once or twice when we were young.  We lived many states apart, and at 30 (divorced with 3 kids) I invited him to visit on FB, without thinking he'd even consider.  Well he did and surprisingly planned coming.  Trust me I had absolutely no intent besides he was family.  And would have thought you were crazy if you had told me we would end up falling in love.  When he came, we instantly hit it off, and he was so good with my kids.  I felt like I was going crazy because I kept having the thought, "why does he have to be my cousin"?  It was maybe one of the best weeks in my life.  Towards the end of the visit he brought it up and said he wished we met as strangers.  We were devastated when he left, and he said he'd be back. Although I figured, life would happen and we'd eventually think it was just this weird thing that happened and move on.  Instead we ended up talking non-stop and even more realized how perfect we were for each other.  That's when we both started doing a ton of research and realized this was actually a possibility! In only 4 months he quit his job and on a leap of faith moved.  In 2 months we were engaged and now it's been 1.5 years.  

The issue:  We've been trying to do marriage prep and are both devoutly Catholic.  We live in WY, a state that is illegal for cousins to marry.  But we had planned on having the wedding in FL where it is legal.  My priest just told me that we might not be able to do marriage prep or get the marriage approved and not be able to have a church wedding.  Is this just because of our state, or is this going to be an issue for us in any Catholic dioceses?  It makes me so sad because we don't believe our marriage will be valid if it's not in the Church.  We even have a deposit on a Catholic Church in FL.  Can we fight this?  I'm trying to figure out all my options.  We are actually planning on moving to GA this summer where it's legal, but we've planned so much I don't want to put off getting married at this point even if we have to only do it civilly.  And if we go that route and afterward while living in GA, will we be able to get a church to Bless our Marriage.  Any advice would be helpful at this point. Thank you!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a difficult situation because you are both "devoutly Catholic" and your hopes and dreams on this are in the hands of the Church.  It may be possible to obtain a dispensation to marry but will take some time after finding the right priest in the right diocese.  Were I a priest in WY, I might be very hesitant to provide the premarital work because it is illegal for you to marry there.  However, in FL or GA, you may find more supportive priests, in part because it is not illegal in the eyes of the state.  It does remain illegal in Church Canon Law but, again, dispensation may be possible.  Should you decide to get a civil marriage anyway, you correctly assume that the Church will not recognize your marriage.  I don't know how the Catholic Church views this through the lens of "ask forgiveness later" - can you get a later dispensation and then be married in the eyes of the Church?  Great question!  I suspect the answer is yes after much difficulty but only a priest in the Catholic Church can answer that with certainty.

I can tell you this:  I once married a couple, one a Baptist and the other a Catholic.  I had to counsel them ahead of time that their marriage, performed by a Baptist minister, will not be considered valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church (both were previously divorced and the Catholic had also not gone through the appropriate Church annulment process).  That was over six years ago and, while the bride has started going through Confirmation courses, I do not believe they have completed the necessary work to be married in the eyes of the Church.

If you are absolutely intent on being married and will live as if married anyway, I would say check first with the Church and see if you can find a priest in GA or FL willing to do the work to get you the dispensation.  Failing that, get married anyway.  My first choice, were I in your shoes at that point, would be to see if a priest in the Anglican Church of North America would be willing to marry you.  This way the rites are compatible and the ACNA has a generally friendly ecumenical relationship with the Catholic Church, which would be helpful later on as you seek dispensation for your marriage in the Catholic Church.

I hope this helps a little.

Best Wishes and God Bless,

CM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you so much for all of this input!  Also just to note that I have done the annulment process already as I have said that I am divorced.  So the only issue is being cousins.  I will have to look into an Anglican Church, as I don't know anything about it!  But it sounds like a great lead, and as you said if anything, I think we've decided to go through with the wedding in July either way and then after... I guess keep trying and have faith something will work itself out.  Thank you again!

Sincerely, 

Becca

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My pleasure.  Just make sure that if you do go with the Anglican church, it's affiliated with the ACNA.  They split from the Episcopalian churches in North America several years back as the latter decided to move to a much more liberal position on many subjects, including marriage, which make their once friendly relationship with the Catholic Church very strained to say the least.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am going to start calling Churches in that area:) Thanks again! Also if anyone has been able to marry in the Catholic Church or have already done this I would love to hear your story!  Wish this wasn't so complicated! But now that I have my Fiancé/cousin in my life I can't image ever being with anyone else. I swear he's exactly the man I've prayed and hoped for.  And as weird as it is about being cousins, so much about it has been such a blessing.  (off topic) But for example we talked about how from the start we didn't put on any fronts, and we naturally had more trust for each other.  Not to mention that naturally he was able to connect with my kids on a much deeper level than any stranger could, because he already considered them family.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does the priest know about your cousin-ness?

Ecclesiastical law (not Canon Law) will not permit first cousin marriages in the Catholic church.  However, you can be granted a dispensation by your Bishop.  I would contact the Worship Office of your diocese ASAP and inquire about the dispensation.  

And for the record, I would keep mum about the cousin factor from now on.  WY has fairly stern marriage laws where cousins are concerned.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes we told him and are doing the dispensation.  Unfortunately, we recently had a big falling out with both our parents. They are very against it, mostly I believe because they are embarssed and think we reflect on them. There was nothing we could have told them to change their minds and they both went out of their ways to go speak to our priest. (Literally to sabatoge us in the only way they could) Today our priest told us from what they said, raised a lot of red flags and who knows what the bishop will do:(. I am very hurt they would do this. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh good gracious.  Is there another parish church near you?  Go to another parish priest for your wedding prep and marriage rite.  Or even go to a whole other diocese.  This is ridiculous.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for your concern:) If they don’t approve us that might just be what will happen next! We will see in a few weeks or so! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just to update, we just received the news that our bishop approved the dispensation form. Meaning we are approved to get married in the Catholic Church, this July. Just thought I would share since I have not yet seen any story of someone directly getting an aproval. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, becca said:

Just to update, we just received the news that our bishop approved the dispensation form. Meaning we are approved to get married in the Catholic Church, this July. Just thought I would share since I have not yet seen any story of someone directly getting an aproval. 

Wow! This is tremendously good news! :) I am happy for you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

becca

I'm not surprised that you received the dispensation at all.  Marriages between a Catholic and a non-Catholic Christian are almost always declared valid in the eyes of the Church. And civil marriages between two Catholics is almost always recognized. As the Director of Music for the Catholic church, I've seen many marriages between two Catholics that did not include a Mass; this is often done when few, if any, of the family and friends are Catholic and it helps to relieve the awkwardness of the bride and groom being the only ones to receive communion. My concern, Like CM stated, is that the priest would not knowingly bless a marriage that he knew to be illegal in the state and thus his hands were tied.  Marrying outside of your diocese is done all the time in the Catholic church.

A valid Catholic marriage results from four elements: (1) the spouses are free to marry; (2) they freely exchange their consent; (3) in consenting to marry, they have the intention to marry for life, to be faithful to one another and be open to children; and (4) their consent is given in the presence of two witnesses and before a properly authorized Church minister. Exceptions to the last requirement must be approved by church authority.  And obviously, older couples beyond child bearing age are not restricted from a valid Catholic marriage.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×