Marrying an Orthodox Christian

Question from John R. on 4/11/2008:

While marrying an Orthodox Christian no longer poses a canonical impediment for the Catholic Church, it still does for the Orthodox partner. Orthodox canon law forbids an Orthodox Christian from marrying outside of the Orthodox Church.

The marriage would be regarded as valid by the Catholic Church; however, it would be considered invalid by the Orthodox. Unlike in Latin Catholic belief, the Orthodox believe the priest confers the sacrament on the couple, and some, although not all, Orthodox jurisdictions reject the validity of Catholic sacraments including baptism.

Just as in the Catholic Church, the Orthodox require affirmation that children coming from a mixed marriage will be raised Orthodox. A compromise could be getting married in a Byzantine-rite Catholic parish if the Orthodox is willing to convert.

Answer by Robert J. Flummerfelt, J.C.L. on 4/18/2008:
Hi John R.,

I appreciate what you have written. I like the fact that you note that indeed not all Orthodox consider marriages to Catholics as invalid. It is not a black and white thing - it depends on which Orthodox Church.

Just a simple point of reference, please note that for Eastern Catholics, the theology and law supports the contention that it is a combination of the consent of the parties AND the priestly [sacerdotal] blessing which CONFECTS the sacrament on the parties. The Latin Church teaches it is the consent of the parties, but the Eastern Catholic Churches teach a little more - stating that consent PLUS the priestly blessing is necessary for validity.

Just a point of clarification.

Thanks for listening.

Peace and blessings, Bob

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