CAN A CATHOLIC VALIDLY MARRY A NON-CATHOLIC?
News has broken that the British Prime Minister (PM) Mr. Boris Johnson yesterday at our Cathedral Church of Westminster married his girlfriend Carrie Symonds with whom they have a son. Boris Johnson has been twice divorced so expectedly questions have been raised as why/how the Catholic Church allowed him to be wedded at our Cathedral. This morning as I got readied for Mass, there was an analyst on TV who was saying the Catholic Church does not approve of divorce but obviously Boris Johnson is the PM so he can do whatever he likes and get away with it! There can be nothing farther from the truth than what this so-called analyst said!
SETTING THE RECORDS STRAIGHT
The Catholic Church allows marriage between a man and a woman who have given their full consent to be joined in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony in 3 ways:
1. Both parties are Catholics
2. One party is a Catholic and the other party is a baptised Christian from another denomination. This is called MIXED MARRIAGE
3. One party is a Catholic and the other party is not a Christian. He could profess another religion like Islam or profess no religion. This is called DISPARITY OF CULT
If a party was initially not a Catholic but converted before the marriage, then scenario 1 above applies as both are now Catholics.
For a marriage under the 2nd and 3rd form to take place, there must be the following:
1. Consent by both parties that the Catholic party will continue to practice the Catholic faith unhindered and unrestricted after the marriage
2. Consent by both parties that the children that are procreated in the marriage will be brought up in the Catholic faith
3. The consent of the Ordinary (Bishop) in the diocese where the marriage will be celebrated is obtained
What we do on the day of the marriage is:
1. Normal Mass of Matrimony is celebrated
2. The Couple announce their consent and exchange vows
3. A minister witnesses their exchange of vows and consent on behalf of the Church. Accredited ministers of Matrimony are Deacon, Priest or Bishop.
4. Communion is served to the Catholic party ONLY and the non-Catholic party is blessed
WHAT IS THE BORIS JOHNSON SITUATION?
1. He was baptised a Catholic when he was born in New York. Yes! he had dual citizenship of the US & UK until 2017 when he surrendered the US citizenship possibly with an eye to becoming PM. He was however confirmed as an Anglican!
2. He is twice married and twice divorced. He did not marry in the Catholic Church on either occasion so as far as the Church is concerned, he was not married! Until you bring your spouse to Church to be wedded (Canonical form), the Church takes you to be committing adultery and thus the Sacrament of Holy Communion is not open to you.
3. His spouse Carrie is a baptised and practising catholic
4. Based on the above, it is permissible for the Church to have married Carrie and her non-Catholic spouse in a mixed marriage in the Catholic Church. This has nothing to do with the status of Boris as PM using his powers to get away with whatever he wants as the uninformed so-called analyst was saying on TV today! We witness mixed marriages even to the poorest people in the community. It certainly has nothing to do with status!
5. For those who have followed British history will know that refusal by the Catholic Church to wed a powerful man, the King of England — Henry VIII — because he was already married in the Catholic Church is what angered him that led to his changing the name of the Catholic Church in his country to the Anglican Church. He then made himself the Head of the Anglican Church and permitted himself to divorce his wife and marry a new one in his Church! He did not stop there but visited the most brutal suppression of the Catholic Church by executing any priest or lay faithful who refused to repudiate their Catholic faith and take an oath of allegiance to him the King as the Head of the Church of England. Hundreds of priests and many more lay faithful were subsequently executed by hanging, drawn and quartered. This means the priest or lay faithful was first hanged, after they die their bowels will be drawn out and then their bodies will be divided into 4 parts! They are collectively called the English Martyrs! If the Catholic Church was not the Church that Christ said the gates of hell will not prevail against it, there will be no Catholic Church today in the United Kingdom but alas the Catholic Church is thriving, and we are blessed with former Anglican Priests and congregations that have returned home!
6. Boris as PM cannot convert to Catholicism because there is a law that technically bars Catholics from becoming British PM. This may be shocking to many but that is the truth to this date! Former British PM Mr Tony Blair was in a similar situation with Boris as he is married to Cherie Blair who is a devoted Catholic but waited to the end of his premiership before converting to Catholicism to join his wife! This is a continuation of the laws that King Henry VIII had passed to suppress the Catholic faith.
So I hope this clarifies the marriage between Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds which took place yesterday. The marriage was 100% valid once the consent of both parties was obtained. In the Catholic Church Jesus Christ is our Founder and we don’t stand in awe of any human being or authority!!! We only listen to and obey God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit!