Echoes. Catholic presence at civil marriage. Published on 04/01/2020

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Catholic presence at civil marriage


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You are trying to strike a balance between being faithful to the teaching of the Church and your legitimate desire to maintain family harmony, and different people will have different ideas on how to do this.

Father Kenneth
Doyle

Q. My family has been a dedicated Catholic for generations. Recently a nephew of mine announced that he was planning to get married in a civil ceremony. (I believe neither he nor his fiancée is dedicated to a religion. He is a “fallen Catholic” millennial.)

As the eldest in the family, I am saddened by this turn of events and have researched the position of my religion in relation to my participation in this union. To be honest, the advice I find is not very straightforward about where the Church stands. Can you give me some details?

As a Catholic, can I attend? (My current decision is not to attend, and it causes great anguish in the family, a family that I cherish.) (Hometown unpublished)

A. I’m not surprised that you find varying directions in your dilemma. It is essentially a “question of strategy” without a hard and fast “rule”. You are trying to strike a balance between being faithful to the teaching of the Church and your legitimate desire to maintain family harmony, and different people will have different ideas on how to do this.

Here is my suggestion: go to the wedding, but first sit down and talk with your nephew. Tell him that you are embarrassed to attend because he does not get married in a religious ceremony. Explain to her what the Catholic Faith has meant to you, how she has supported you over the years, offering you comfort and guidance.

Tell him how much he means to you and that your deepest hope and prayer is that one day he may return to the practice of the faith he grew up with and ask for the blessing of the Church upon him. wedding.

If you do this, he will not see your attendance as an “endorsement” of the Church, you will not risk a family breakdown which could be final, and you will keep open the possibility of his return to Catholic practice through your prayer and your sweet example. .

Q. I read that Joe Biden, when he was vice president, presided over a same-sex marriage. As you know, Mr. Biden claims to be Roman Catholic. I would think that his officiant at this ceremony would have resulted in his excommunication. Has he been excommunicated? And if not, what is the reasoning behind it? (Petit Rocher, Arkansas)

A. It is true that in 2016, Biden, then Vice President, presided over a same-sex marriage for two men who were longtime White House collaborators. The ceremony took place at the vice-presidential residence of the Naval Observatory.

The response from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops was swift. Within days, three conference officials – without mentioning Biden by name, but clearly referring to his action – said: people of the same sex, confusion arises regarding Catholic teaching on marriage and the corresponding moral obligations of Catholics. Such an action, the bishops wrote, “is a counter-witness, instead of a believer founded in the truth.”

The three bishops who signed the declaration were Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, then president of the USCCB; Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski, then chairman of the Committee on National Justice and Human Development; and Bishop Richard J. Malone, then chairman of the Committee on the Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.

Their statement continued: “Pope Francis has been very clear in asserting the truth and the constant teaching of the church that same-sex relationships cannot be regarded as” in any way similar or even somewhat analogous to God’s plan. for marriage and the family ”. “

As for the issue of excommunication, Edward Peters, professor of canon law at the major seminary in Detroit, explained in his blog at the time that there is no specific canon that excommunicates a Catholic for having officiated during ‘same-sex marriage and that Biden should demonstrate a pattern of behavior that violates church law in order to trigger formal disciplinary action.

– Father Kenneth Doyle is a columnist for Catholic News Service

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