From a reader…
I have friend who is getting married in the Orthodox church. This friend and his wife to be were both Catholics, but recently left the Church for the Orthodox church. Is this marriage valid? Should I attend this marriage or no?
Leaving the Catholic Church for the Orthodox Church. I can’t – and won’t – get my head around that. Really. Bad. Idea. No, no. There is no good reason for it. Nope. Don’t even try.
Firstly, two Catholics can’t be dispensed from canonical form except in danger of death (can. 1079 §1). Outside danger of death, a dispensation from canonical form for two Catholics can only be granted by the Apostolic See.
Without a dispensation from Rome (which the couple is unlikely to seek), the wedding would not be validly celebrated. In other words, afterward they’ll be shacking up… formally… but shacking up nevertheless.
Their formal shackup might later be sanated, presuming everything else is in order. And presuming that they returned to the Catholic Church from their ill-advised jaunt into schism.
As to whether you should attend the wedding or not, that’s a complicated situation which should be discussed in person with your pastor. Each one of these situations must be dealt with on its own merits. I’d like to be able to give a simple answer… every single time someone asks me this “Should I go to the wedding?” query. But circumstances today, in which a huge number of people are barely, if at all catechized, and families are atomized, make any attempt at a cover-all answer both foolish and misleading.