Katrina asked:

What's the difference between a church wedding and a civil wedding? How do I build a case for my sister and her fiancee they already booked their civil wedding, they are both Catholic and don't attend mass regularly and whether I should attend or not?

Patrick Madrid replied:

"...the wedding contract in the United States ... must be witnessed by a duly authorized authority, could be a justice of the peace ... this is because the government wants to ... safeguard the institution of marriage and to make it orderly and have all the T's crossed and the I's dotted so that there is not chaos in society, we have records of whose married to whom ... That from a civil standpoint is a very good thing.

In the case of a Catholic wedding ... Catholic priests and deacons, and bishops ... are recognized by the state as being those authorized ... witnesses or officiators of a wedding. So at a Catholic wedding the couple need not get married again by a justice of the peace.

One is a legal matter pertaining to the state, the other in the case of the sacramental marriage ... that is the sacrament that's celebrated between the man and the woman in the eyes of God and the Church and in the presence of all the witnesses ...

For Catholics there is an obligation to be married in the Church. It's a serious obligation that comes with being a Catholic ... I would make the case this way ... I would say, you might ask them a series of questions: Do you believe in God? Do you believe in Jesus? ... Then you could say well do you believe Jesus is God? ... Would you believe that when Jesus said something like to the apostles, whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth is loosed in heaven. They'll probably say yes, what are you driving at?

Well what I'm driving at is Jesus gave the apostles this church that he established. He gave them an authority to determine how and by whom the sacraments that he himself had established would be celebrated. And the Church speaking with the voice of Christ after all Jesus said in Luke 10:16, he who listens to you listens to me, he who rejects you rejects me, the Church has established that Catholics who are going to be married must receive this sacrament in the Church. They must receive this sacrament according to the norms that the Church has laid down for our benefit.

So if you follow this kind of logical train of questions you're going to get to the point where you can then ask them, well if you believe Jesus is God and if you believe that Jesus gave this authority to the Church, ... then don't you think if you reject what the Church teaches that you're really rejecting Jesus? And if you reject Jesus how can you claim to love him ... believe that he's God? Wouldn't that seem to suggest that either you don't really believe he's God or maybe you don't love him?

My hope is that with your diligent efforts and your prayers you're going to be able to turn them around and get them situated and get their minds right ... That way you won't have to have that quandary about whether or not to go. If it turns out that they insist on getting married outside the Church ... then at that point well I can't really support that. I love you and I want to support you however I can. But if I go to this it'll give the appearance that I'm really saying that it's okay to do that but it's really not ..."


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Show air date: October 28, 2013

Question appeared in show: 28:30

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