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Wedding Attendance
Question from Vincent on 1/23/2013:

Your recent discussion of attending non-sacramental weddings leads me to a question: Is it always sinful to attend such a wedding? I am scheduled to attend a non-sacramental wedding in Puerto Rico for my cousin (the bride). I know that she was baptized in the Church, but is not practicing her faith. I wouldn't even know the last time she set foot in a church, but I suuspect it may have been many years ago. I am unsure of the groom's religious status. My immediate family are attending (including the practicing Catholics).

My dilemma is that I am confined to a wheelchair and there will be nobody home to care for me if I don't go to Puerto Rico. It would also be offensive to the family. Do I have an obligation not to attend? Am I sinning if I go? My feeling is that the couple are not concerned with sacramental marraige because they were never fully brought up in the teachings of the Catholic faith. The bride's parents never practiced the faith, either. Therefore, this couple may not really know any better.

Answer by Catholic Answers on 1/24/2013:


You may be right that the couple doesn't know any better, and a few years ago I wrote some hints for laypeople for discerning whether or not to attend presumptively-invalid marriages. You can read them at the link below.

What concerns me in this case though is your inclination to attend this wedding because you believe your family will be offended and take off on their trip, leaving you to fend for yourself if you refuse to go for reasons of conscience. If that is the case, then you need to remind your family that you are not inconvenient "luggage" that they must either cart about with them on their trip or leave behind with no concern for your well-being. You are an adult human person with human dignity, and you deserve to have your conscience respected and your concerns taken seriously.

If you do not want to attend this wedding for reasons of conscience, then your family owes it to you to make appropriate arrangements for your well-being. If that means hiring someone to tend to your needs while they are gone, then that is just an additional expense that they will have to budget into their travel plans. But if they in any way threaten you with leaving you to fend for yourself while they go off to Puerto Rico for the wedding, then I recommend calling either your doctor or your local Adult Protective Services and reporting this as a case of dependent adult abuse.

Recommended reading:

What are the rules for attending weddings?

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers


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