Divorce and Communion: the "traditionalists" aren't very traditional

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  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    It's hard to see it as sacramental as the intention appears to be to contract a civil marriage not a religious one. I wonder if the intention has to be that of both parties.
  • Enoch wrote: »
    How is sex, whether loving, wholesome and a symbol of the couple's commitment to one another or a coupling like brute beasts "an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace".

    Because, when it is not sexual violence - which I would argue is really a different entity - it is an outward and visible sign of love. I would argue love is a form of spiritual grace.

    In so far as formalized Christian marriage ceremonies evolved over hundreds of years - originally, the marriage was going to live with, and become sexually involved with, another person. If the marriages 1800 years ago were also sacramental marriages, and they did not involve marriage preparation classes and a highly ritualized service with an exact form of words, then the sacramental aspect presumably can not arise from those later accretions.

  • We are,well I am going round in circles here - as we might say in Scotland 'ma heid's birlin'.
    I didn't realise at the beginning, but ,of course I should have, that Enoch was comparing CofE marriage ceremonies with RC marriage ceremonies. I thought that he was talking about legally recognised marriages in the UK. The state part of the ceremony which gives the marriage legal status in the eyes of the law is not religious and is, as far as I know the same for everyone. The religious part of a marriage ceremony, if that is desired, is surely conducted according to the rites and ceremonies of the religious body and has its religious validity ,if any validity is wished from the religious body concerned.

    As far as Catholic marriages are concerned, the couple concerned must
    a) satisfy the law in the country where the marriage is to take place that they are able to marry legally in the eyes of the law
    b) satisfy the church authorities that they are, in the eyes of the Church,
    free to wed.
    c) the ceremony must follow the the rules for state legal recognition of the marriage
    d) the ceremony must follow the rules established by the Church

    The free consent of the couple to the marriage is important - a Nuptial Mass and possible papal blessing are not in any way necessary.

    I will try to answer the other questions later.
  • Gee D most Christian groups recognise the word 'sacrament' although they may understand different things by that word.

    In general the Catholic Church concerns itself only with its own interpretation of the sacraments and makes no judgement on the sacraments as celebrated by other groups apart from saying that they are not 'Catholic' sacraments.

    This happens as we know with Holy Communion and it happens also with sacramental marriage. Marriage as understood by the Catholic church for those who claim to be Catholic is only a valid Catholic marriage if the ceremony has been carried out in a manner approved by the church authorities ( as is the case with the other sacraments !)

    I am not a lawyer,so can only give my opinion. As to your question.
    A couple marry in a civil ceremony and then divorce,again in a civil ceremony.
    Thus both of these people are legally free to wed.
    Now what if one of them wish to marry in a Catholic ceremony,what would or could happen ?
    At least one of the new couple would be a Catholic. While the Catholic church approves of marriage for all a Catholic ceremony would only be used if at least one of the contracting parties is a Catholic

    Both of the parties would,as I said be fore need to be free to marry legally in the country where the ceremony takes place and they would need to be free to marry in the eyes of the Church.

    If the divorced person you mention were Catholic at the time of the first civil marriage,that person would have attempted marriage outside of the Church and the marriage would not be recognised as a Catholic marriage and would leave that person free to marry in a Catholic ceremony, if all other conditions were in order.

    If the divorced person were not a Catholic at the time of the civil marriage,then it would depend on what that person understood at that time by civil marriage. If the person thought that he or she was entering a state which could not be dissolved then there would be difficulties about a Catholic marriage ceremony. However civil marriage can be understood as lasting only as long as the couple want it to and that is not the understanding of a Catholic marriage,so in that case it would be likely that the person could enter into a Catholic marriage,all other things being in order.

    Hope this answers Gee D's question.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Thank you, that does deal with the point I was asking. That would also cover the question of a same-sex marriage, dissolution of that marriage, and then a differing-sex marriage in a Catholic Church.
  • There is the chap in Brideshead, who is all set to become a RC, and marry Julia, until it emerges he's divorced. He is honestly surprised; neither of them were RC,so surely it didn't count? He doesn't get his church wedding.

    That doesn't sound like the position described by Forthview. Has the RC position changed? That doesn't sound likely.
  • You have to remember that Brideshead is fiction. The position as I described it is - if a person married in a ceremony where it was understood that the marriage was for a lifetime then irrespective of whether the ceremony was Catholic or not it would be accepted by a the Catholic church as a marriage which was expected to involve the couple for their lifetime and a civilly divorced person would not have the right to a marriage with an other person in a Catholic church.

    At that time, for many people, marriage would have been understood, as lasting for the lifetime of the couple.

    Again ,as I said previously ,the Catholic church encourages marriage and accepts as 'genuine' the marriages of those who are not Catholic.

    It does not accept as a 'genuine' Catholic marriage, the marriage of someone who claims to be Catholic, but who has not contracted marriage according to the rules of the Catholic Church.

    If I remember rightly the Catholic in this story married her husband Rex outside of the Church and lived estranged from the life of the Church. This is fiction but based on many a story like that.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Epiphanies Host
    edited September 14
    I found a link from a Catholic commentator suggesting that a civil marriage between baptised Protestants might indeed be regarded as sacramental, but no explanation as to why. Certainly a church service of two baptised Protestants in which they make vows for life would seem an obvious sacramental marriage and very likely to be recognised as such by the Catholic church.

    But a civil ceremony? That strikes me as different. In nonconformist circles, if a Registrar cannot be booked for the service, it is not unknown for the legal ceremony to take place in a Registry Office and a church service, including vows of lifelong commitment, to take place separately. I'd regard that as both a sacramental marriage and a legal one. Maybe the Catholic Church would also?

    (Worth adding that any service at which the minister pronounces that "those whom God has joined together, let no one divide" would seem to me to qualify as sacramental unless there is some overriding issue such as ineligibility.)
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Shipmate
    edited September 14
    What I am finding frustrating in this discussion is the apparent confusion of form and substance.

    From a theological perspective, people are either joined by God in marriage or they are not. This is state that Christians have believed to be possible since the time of Christ. Registry offices and standard wedding services have not existed since the time of Christ.

    Therefore

    Legal statements and particular forms of wedding liturgy must be indicators of the existence or imminent existence of a marriage - rather than the means by which a marriage is caused to exist.

    If a marriage can be annulled because you never had sex, even if you entered the marriage with the wholly sincere intention of spending your life together and having a sexual relationship but you subsequently can not consummate the marriage for whatever reason - then logically purity of intention and understanding what marriage is, is not in and of itself sufficient to cause a marriage to exist.
  • What I am trying to argue here, is that it is possible for “non-canonical” marriages to exist that are sacramental.

    The intention and practice of living together with someone in a sexual relationship is a marriage. If marriage is a sacrament then the circumstance of that relationship is sacramental.

    Moreover, I would see this as being the logical outcome of the teaching of most churches.
  • Of course you are right, doublethink. As I have said, I can only speak for the viewpoint of the Catholic church. If two people lived in a far off place without access to a church or indeed clergy and if they wished to contract a sacramentally valid marriage and if they were 'free' to marry' then their 'plighting of troth' would be for the Catholic Church a valid sacramental marriage. This would be followed up later, when circumstances allowed, by an entrance in the registers of the church/parish which covered the area where the plighting of the troth took place.

    A sexual relationship is part of the marriage but few people and certainly not the Catholic Church would accept that every sexual liaison is a form of lifelong marriage.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    I'm still having problems trying to work out where it is claimed that there is a difference between a 'sacramental' marriage and an 'any old marriage' actually comes from. Or, why, that should give rise to an argument that people who are married in an 'any old marriage'
    • aren't married at all? or
    • are married in a form which lets them off some of the commitments involved in a 'real' marriage? nor,
    • since in heaven people neither marry nor given in marriage, how it can be argued that God sees some people as married to different people from the person whom they and society round about them regards them as married to?

    @Doublethink it's my view, for what it's worth, that as far as God is concerned, even if he's perhaps prefer that they weren't, he sees couples as married to the person they and society regards them as married to, irrespective of form.

    Although as far as I know, it's never been able to achieve the sort of unanimity that would enable it to declare that as a pronouncement, I also think it's defensible that that is a CofE position.

    It follows from the simple fact that the CofE allows and recognises the remarriage of those divorced, but requires clergy to engage them in some sort of discernment process. Clergy are not supposed to marry them if it was an affaire between them which was the reason why any previous marriage(s) broke up. If they then went ahead and married with a civil ceremony, they would be married, and the sort of commitments they'd be bound to in the church's eyes are the same.

    I think I'm right in saying that marriage is seen as a universal, part of natural law. People can, and are encouraged to, seek to marry before God, and with his blessing, but it's marriage either way. I'd also see this understanding as following from incarnation.


    @Forthview Brideshead Revisited is fiction, but it's worth remembering that it was written by someone who had personal experience of a Catholic marriage tribunal, how it works and how it thought. True, that was over 80 years ago but presumably Rome is eternal.
  • I think that 80 years ago most people of a certain standing in society in the English speaking world would have been married in some sort of religious ceremony.
    I don't remember the details of the book but it is likely that Rex Mottram's first marriage would, at first look, been considered by the Catholic church as a valid marriage..Again , if I remember, Rex Mottram refused to jump through the hoops which might have led to a Catholic recognition of the invalidity of his first marriage and which would have allowed him to marry in a Catholic ceremony Lady Julia.

    Enoch I do remind you that the term 'any old marriage' is your term and most certainly not mine. Of course any marriage ceremony is marriage but for Catholics a real Catholic marriage is one which has been authorised by the Church. The Catholic Church is present all over the world and not just in England and has the same rules everywhere for those who claim to be Catholic. The Church recognises and honours marriage in all its forms but declares that Christ raised this to the dignity of a sacrament and insists that it declares exactly what a 'Catholic' marriage is amongst the broad palette of various views both civil and religious
  • Forthview wrote: »
    We are,well I am going round in circles here - as we might say in Scotland 'ma heid's birlin'.
    I didn't realise at the beginning, but ,of course I should have, that Enoch was comparing CofE marriage ceremonies with RC marriage ceremonies. I thought that he was talking about legally recognised marriages in the UK. The state part of the ceremony which gives the marriage legal status in the eyes of the law is not religious and is, as far as I know the same for everyone. The religious part of a marriage ceremony, if that is desired, is surely conducted according to the rites and ceremonies of the religious body and has its religious validity ,if any validity is wished from the religious body concerned.

    If you are married according to the rites and ceremonies of the CofE then you are married according to the law in England and Wales. For the longest time, other than being Jewish or Quaker, that was the only way you could be married. The civil/religious distinction is far from clear in England. I believe a similar situation pertains in the Church in Wales, despite disestablishment.
  • I thought that in a CofE marriage ceremony the officiant was acting as a registrar for the state and that the marriage has to be registered by the state for it to have its validity.

    In other words if a couple went into a CofE church and had a marriage ceremony carried out by a clergyperson who was not authorised as an officiant by the state - and that the marriage was not registered by the state that it would then have no legal validity in the eyes of the state. Perhaps I am wrong.

    This would certainly happen if such a 'marriage ceremony' were to be carried out by the Catholic authorities.
  • I may be wrong but my recollection is that by holding ecclesiastical office in the CofE a Priest can automatically carry out legal weddings, and fulfilling the paperwork requirements (ie the signing of the registers) is part of the rites and ceremonies. The CofE vows are sufficient in the eyes of the law, the civil form does not need to be observed. I don't think it's possible to conduct a marriage in accordance with the rites and ceremonies of the CofE without it also being legally valid. Maybe there's an edge case I haven't thought of.
  • Would you need the Diocesan Bishop's permission? If I'm asked to take a wedding elsewhere that's always my first port of call.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Forthview wrote: »
    I thought that in a CofE marriage ceremony the officiant was acting as a registrar for the state and that the marriage has to be registered by the state for it to have its validity.

    In other words if a couple went into a CofE church and had a marriage ceremony carried out by a clergyperson who was not authorised as an officiant by the state - and that the marriage was not registered by the state that it would then have no legal validity in the eyes of the state. Perhaps I am wrong.

    This would certainly happen if such a 'marriage ceremony' were to be carried out by the Catholic authorities.

    Under the Marriage Act here, a couple has to be married by a person authorised under that Act to conduct marriages. Authorisation flows from being a minister of religion as noted under that Act or a qualified civil celebrant. (I have elided detail.) As I read the Act, the officiant is not acting as registrar for the state, but as an authorised person. If the ceremony is a religious one, then it is sufficient if the ceremony is recognised as sufficient by that religious body. If t is civil, the ceremony must include these promises:

    I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, A.B. ( or C.D.), take thee, C.D. ( or A.B.), to be my lawful wedded wife ( or husband, or spouse)

    or words to that effect. I don't know when I last heard "thee"; "you" has easily won out.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Provided celebrated by a clerk in holy orders and conducted in accordance with either the 1662 BCP or Common Worship a CofE wedding is valid in law pretty well always unless bigamous or one of the parties is under age or probably if the rules on banns or licences has not been complied with. A celebrant can - and probably will be - prosecuted for breaking the legal requirements. Most prosecutions in recent years have related to conducting weddings where parties are not compliant with immigration law. As I've mentioned before on these boards, the law in England and Wales - but oddly not Scotland - make wedding tourism virtually impossible. However much it may have been your dream to have your wedding in an English village church just like in the films, if you're not entitled to UK residency forget it.

    The registration procedure is about to change, but the parties and the person conducting the wedding are required by law to comply with it.

    This all can be alarming enough to give clergy, churchwardens and parish secretaries sleepless nights.
  • The Quakers have a an exception to permit them to marry without a celebrant.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Epiphanies Host
    Doublethink

    You state my understanding. Registrars legalise, religious services solemnise, but essentially people marry one another. Which simply switches the focus to the promises they make to one another.

    In Catholic understanding, (as I understand it!) a sacramental marriage may indeed take place between people, neither of whom is Catholic. So I further surmise that the key determinants of whether the marriage is sacramental or not will be both a commitment to indissolubility and also an acknowledgement (even just in the hearts of the couple) that God blesses the joining. Presumably also, one will have to be male and the other female.
  • Wellllllll, that latter point is - as you know - open to debate. My tradition accepts same sex marriage.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    I read that comment from Barnabas as a reference to Catholic Church teaching
  • I think however that a CofE marriage has to be registered with the state, otherwise how does the state know that the marriage has taken place.
    I think that Barnabas has given a good description of Catholic marriage. Certainly the Catholic Church in the days of open sexuality has to come to a better understanding and some sort of acceptance and blessing of those who opt for a committed sexual relationship ,be that between two people of two sexes (male and female) or two people of the same sex,but it is unlikely that Catholic sacramental marriage will change essentially from the form and ideals which it has at the moment.
  • The Catholic church will bless a same sex marriage? Really? I'd be delighted if that's true, and very surprised!
  • I'm assuming Forthview is predicting, and possibly advocating, such a move rather than describing current practice.

    Maybe in a century or two.
  • In the last 70 or so years Catholic attitudes to sexuality, like those of many other people,
    have changed immensely Now I know very ,very few of the well over one billion Catholics
    in the world but of those I do know, many are quite relaxed about sexuality.
    While Jesus Christ, at least from the point of view of the Catholic Church, described 'marriage' as a union between one man and one woman he didn't say much about extra-marital sexual practices.

    The Church, as well as society in general has for centuries looked down upon all extra marital sexual relationships, but we have to find some way ,apart from perpetual sexual abstinence, to make people feel that they are not necessarily being looked upon as sinners, if they cannot do this.

    We know quite clearly what the Church teaches about what it sees as the sacredness of marriage, but not everyone is able to follow to the letter this teaching.

    The Church accepts that there are a number of people who are homosexual but it will only countenance such loving relationships if there is no genital sexual activity.

    The Church knows that there are people in committed and loving sexual relationships (mixed sex) who cannot enter marriage.

    For all that some people only see harshness in the attitudes of the Church in practice it is not always like that and I know many people who live for various reasons outside the traditional views of Catholic marriage but who are made and who do feel valued within the Catholic Church.

    I would stress that these are only my personal views ,but so, so much has changed in my lifetime and change for the better will continue.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Thank you for another of your generous posts. FWIW, I see a great deal of tolerance on the ground of the Catholic Church, far more so than with many on the fundie side. The official teaching is very similar, how people are accepted very different.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Epiphanies Host
    Wellllllll, that latter point is - as you know - open to debate. My tradition accepts same sex marriage.

    As Gee D says, I was attempting to to summarise the Catholic understanding of sacramental marriage. My position on same sex marriage is identical to yours.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    OTOH, ++Glenn Sydney found $1m to donate to the anti-ssm campaign in the last few days before the plebiscite forms had to be returned. By that stage, it was pretty clear that the Yes vote would succeed and that the money was going to a hopeless cause.
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