Archdiocese of Mobile

Office for Evangelization and Family Life

More on Marriage

Date posted: October 10, 2014

wedding ringsSo, what about marriages between Catholics and non-Christians?  Well, the marriage may happen and may be indissoluble, but cannot be sacramental.  Sacraments, as actions of Christ’s Church, only happen to Christians.  If one does not accept Jesus as the Christ, then one cannot accept that any grace could possibly be associated with any actions of a church founded in his name.


The rule is similar to the rule for marrying a Christian from another denomination.  A dispensation must be received for this union.


Now, the union may not be a sacrament, but the Church respects it as would acknowledge that the bond is meant to be indissoluble.  The Church can dispense the obligation of the union in what is known as the Pauline or the Petrine Privilege.  To be honest with you the issue gets so complicated that it would take many, many blogs to tackle the distinctions and adequately explain them  I don’t think it is worth it.  Suffice it to say that the Church can not dispense from the obligation if the marriage is sacramental, but can if it is not.


In the end, it is important that we understand marriage as a bond between a man and a woman that is meant to be a sign of God’s love to the world.  We are fallen and sinful people, so this beautiful image often gets twisted by our own weakness.  But, let’s not let our lowest common denominator be our definition of reality.  Sure, many people suffer because of bad marriages and in many cases marriages don’t look much like God’s love.  This does not change the call.  I am called to make my marriage reflect the love of God for the world.  This noble call is not easy and I always fall short to one degree or another.  However, I set this lofty vision before my eyes constantly.

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