Marriage and Divorce

Wedding Rings

If you were not married in Catholic church, but by a civil judge. Does church say it is valid marriage?

If a divorced person is in a relationship with a civilly married man, who is divorcing, is this adultery?

Are you a priest ?

To answer your last question first, no, I’m not a priest. I am a consecrated member of the Marian Catechist Apostolate, under the direct supervision of Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke. I’ve also been a lay evangelist and catechist for nearly thirty years. If you know anything about Cardinal Burke, then you know I must be absolutely spot on with all that I teach—His Eminence does not tolerate second best when it comes to Marian Catechists’ knowledge of the faith.

Question: If you were not married in Catholic church, but by a civil judge, does the Church say it is invalid?

Answer: If you are a baptized Catholic who married outside the Church by way of a civil judge, then yes, the Church would say that marriage is invalid. However, in such a circumstance the Catholic civilly married still has to petition the diocesan marriage tribunal for a decree of nullity. In a case as clear cut as you described, such a decree would be forthcoming very quickly.

Question: If a divorced person is in a relationship with a civilly married man who is divorcing, is this adultery?

Answer: First of all, we’d have to define what you mean by relationship. A relationship could be a lot of things. I’m in a close personal relationship with a lot of men, but that doesn’t make me a homosexual; it merely means I have friends who happen to be men. I’m married, but have among my friends some women, but that doesn’t mean I’m committing adultery; I merely have women friends—many of whom are also friends of my wife.

If by relationship you mean a sexual relationship, the Church is very clear. Based on the teachings from the ninth commandment, any sexual relationship outside of the sacrament of Matrimony is mortally sinful, and the person guilty of that sin risks eternity in hell. Any person in such a relationship must immediately completely break the relationship and make a good confession. Then that sexual relationship cannot be renewed.

Many Catholics make the mistake of believing they can continue their immoral behavior as long as they have recourse to the sacrament of Penance. This is a dangerous misconception. There are five elements necessary to make a good confession:
  1. We must make a good examination of conscience.
  2. We must be truly sorry for our sins.
  3. We must resolve not to sin again.
  4. We must confess our sins to a priest.
  5. We must accept the penance assigned by the priest.

For the purpose of our discussion here, we will focus on numbers two and three. When a Catholic has the attitude that he/she can continue to commit a sin as long as he/she goes to confession, then that person has demonstrated that he/she is not sorry for the sin and that he/she has not made the resolution not to sin again. Any priest would refuse absolution to a penitent who demonstrated this. But even if the priest grants absolution, it would not be validly received by the penitent and God would hold that person accountable for both the sin being committed and the additional mortal sin of sacrilege.

We are also obligated to avoid the near occasions of sin. A near occasion of sin is any person, place or thing that will certainly, or almost certainly, lead a person to sin. Intentional failure to avoid any near occasion of sin is also sinful, because this places our soul in jeopardy knowingly and willingly. This is why anyone involved in a sexual relationship with another person who is not that person’s sacramentally valid spouse must completely break off that relationship.

If you have any doubts about what I have told you in this response, please print it out and show it to your priest. He will affirm that this is indeed the Church’s teaching. It can also be easily verified in the
Catechism of the Catholic Church.

I hope this satisfies your need to know. By all means, if you have any further questions or comments, please let me know. I’m always happy to take the time to answer them.
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