ASK FATHER: Can I go to an invalid Mormon wedding?

From a reader…


My wife’s brother is getting married in Salt Lake City this January in a civil ceremony. He is a non-practicing Mormon and his fiancee is also (as far as I know) a non-practicing Mormon. The fiancee was, however, previously married. My wife and I would like to be able to say yes to the invitation, but we have had qualms of conscience about whether we should attend a wedding in which one of the parties is a divorcee. I realize that neither of them is a baptized Christian, but nevertheless, my understanding of the teaching of the Church (from Pius XI’s Casti connubii) is that even so-called natural law marriages are indissoluble, by divine institution. So, we’re puzzled about what we can do in good conscience — especially since we would have our children (15 and 12) with us.

A couple points.

Mormons are not Christians.  They do not have valid baptism.  They do not understand the word or concept “Trinity” in a Christian sense.  Frankly, we are not overly concerned about how Mormons marry… apart from the whole polygamy thing.

That said, from what you wrote the planned civil marriage would probably be invalid because of the prior natural, not sacramental, bond. However, there is nothing in Canon Law that prohibits you from attending an invalid wedding. No sacramental issue is at stake here. This is not a situation of a clear violation by Catholics of Christian, Catholic doctrine or discipline that might cause scandal.  Family presence might keep the door open for future conversion. You can go.

Explain clearly to your children that your presence is more about showing support for a family member.

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  1. ckdexterhaven says:

    I have been a bridesmaid in a Mormon wedding. The thing about Mormon weddings is that only the bride and groom actually go into the Mormon Temple. The bridesmaids, groomsmen and parents all wait outside the temple, and loiter until the actual marriage ceremony is performed in the secret cave or whatever. The bride does not even wear the wedding dress in the temple. The wedding dress, tuxedo, bridesmaids and groomsmen are all just for the photo op. Family and friends usually get together afterwards for cake and cookies, (obviously no beer), at the home of the family.

    Unfortunately, I had to loiter outside the Mesa Arizona temple in July. Hot. Hot.

  2. iteadthomam says:

    Where does Pius XI’s Casti connubii say that non sacramental marriages are indissoluble? (or any other Church documents). Thanks!

  3. Gemma says:

    I was in a similar situation and a priest advised me the same. He said you can’t bend cold steel.

  4. iepuras says:

    When I first saw the title to this post, I thought, “How in the world can a good Catholic even get admitted to attend a Mormon wedding?” I am an ex-Mormon (now Catholic, thanks be to God) and assumed that the wedding would be in the temple. I am pleased that the couple is having a non-temple wedding so that everyone can attend and celebrate. Unfortunately, there will probably be no wine at the reception.

  5. Imrahil says:

    Depending on how much humour the couple has, I’d suggest to praise our Lord the Creator…

    by participating, as a wedding gift or part of the wedding gifts, in the catering to the guests or part of them with a bottle of wine.

    That said, if they are non-practicing Mormons there might be wine.

  6. Peregrinator says:

    The interesting thing about natural unions in which neither party is baptized is that not even the Church has jurisdiction over them. In order for the Church to dissolve such a union, at least one of the spouses must be baptized. I guess in that sense they are indissoluable, at least until one or both spouses are baptized.

  7. Joe in Canada says:

    My concern would be that every Catholic is a spokesman of the church (or spokeswoman) in their own way, and attending a wedding is understood to be witnessing it, even if not as a legal witness. If you believe this couple is entering into an adulterous relationship, why stand there and witness it? The traditional distinction between attending the wedding and attending the reception might be useful.

  8. Explain clearly to your children that your presence is more about showing support for a family member.

    It’s just like when you have to attend dem crazy ol’ Catholic weddin’s that take place in gardens with civil celebrants, with multipli-married participants.

    If it’s a family member, you want to be there to support them, but it does take a lot of explaining to the children beforehand.

  9. Sword40 says:

    I have an adopted son, who is now 45 years old. He is a recovering addict. He fell away from the church right after high school. He has been sober and straight now for 5 years and has found a widowed woman and they are getting married in the spring. She is an evangelical and so is he now.

    I had to tell them that I cannot attend their wedding or reception because I am a Catholic. Our FSSP priest agrees that my decision is correct. It breaks my heart but its the way it has to be.

    It does not change my love for them. Thankfully his fiance’ understands but my son was crushed.

    God will heal all things in time.

  10. Phil_NL says:

    Another point is whether or not the first marriage was a natural law marriage to begin with. Even that is not something you could not take for granted, in my book; not all weddings are black and white even on that front.
    Starting from polygamous unions (though muslims in some countries are much more likely to do that than mormons in the US) to ‘marriages’ understood to be temporary from the get go (perhaps even to obtain tax advantages or resident status) to inebriated Vegas weddings, there’s a lot of grey going around in that sense as well.
    More importantly, such issues would be nigh on impossible for outsiders to judge, and the job of having to do so would be distasteful too. It’s a good thing one can attend a wedding even if invalid.

  11. Legisperitus says:

    Here is where I’m confused about “the whole polygamy thing”… isn’t a purported remarriage bigamous while a validly married spouse is still living? And isn’t marriage a sacrament even where the Church has no jurisdiction?

  12. JesusFreak84 says:

    Heh, I have a non-practicing LDS friend, and the one time I’ve ever seen him go OFF on someone was at the insinuation that LDS are not Christian. I pray someday I’ll be able to explain WHY without having him flip out >_0

  13. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Marriages that don’t take place between baptized Christians are “natural marriages.” They are not sacramental, because no Sacrament takes place. You can’t receive any other Sacrament until you’ve received the initiatory Sacrament, Baptism. No indelible mark on your soul, no Sacraments.

    They can be good solid marriages all the same, but they’re not sacramental.

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