From a reader…
ok — so I get that according to cannon law, since sspx marriages are not “canonically approved’, they are not valid. My God- daughter, and my CLOSEST friend’s daughter is getting married in the fall by an sspx priest. She is the oldest of 13 children, takes her faith wildly seriously AS DO ALL OF HER SIBLINGS!! The whole family is a true inspiration to Catholic parenthood. Question: CAN WE ATTEND the wedding??? Thank you for any efforts to ease my terrified heart!!
Okay… no need to SHOUT or freak out!!?!?!
Marriage, which can only be contracted between one genetically born man and one genetically born woman, is a public covenant. It has profound significance for society. It is basically the first building block of society. It’s important, therefore, that we get it right.
For Catholics, marriage has even more importance. Between baptized persons, marriage is a sacrament. It is a sign of Christ’s love for His Church and of His abiding presence.
Because marriage is such an important public act, the Church has an interest in protecting it.
For Catholics, marriage requires exchanging consent in the presence of an authorized, official witness (usually a bishop, priest, or a deacon with the required delegation). It is an argument for another day whether or not this requirement should be retained, but for now, it is a requirement. Anyway, I am not making this up: to be valid, marriages have to be conducted according to the proper form. Part of the form is to have a duly authorized official witness to the marriage.
Priests of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X (SSPX) lack the required delegation to officiate at a Catholic wedding. No bishop has given them the delegation or faculties to marry (though I wish that were the case). No other competent authority has given them the faculties to witness marriages (though I wish that were the case).
If a Catholic (who is obliged to obey the Church’s laws concerning marriage ) is married by an SSPX priest (who lacks the faculty, delegation, to witness marriages), he is not truly married.
Now the tough part comes to the fore.
Should we attend the wedding of a Catholic which is surely going to be invalid?
There is no canonical prohibition against attending invalid weddings.
Each of us must assess, when faced with these situations, perhaps with the advice of a wise and trusted pastor, what the best approach is.
If this family is truly a solid Catholic family, a good heart-to-heart conversation expressing your concerns about the proposed wedding might be warranted. Perhaps they can be persuaded to seek the services of a priest actually in good standing, who could obtain (or might already have) the necessary faculties to officiate at the wedding.
Express yourself calmly and kindly. Leave out the exclamation points and CAPS when you talk to them.