The information given to us from the Priest, is that this Ceremony would allow us, with the Grace of God to live together as a married couple, without any fornication sin involved. This was done to avoid going back and forth to confession for living together, without having true intentions of not having sexual relation again and again.

The relation now has some issues, that may cause walking away from the marriage. Promises of stopping drinking and smoking, has turned into still excessive use. We are both 76 years old and lost our spouses several years ago, She has the drinking and smoking problem. I have been bi-polar for over 65 years and go into deep depression off and on. She was aware of this, but the Priest was not aware of the bi-polar. Where when I brought this situation up, he made the comment that if he knew that I was bi-polar, that he would not of married us.

The question is that if she doesn't quit the smoking and drinking, (plus forgot to mention), that she puts down the Catholic religion off and on.

Help me. The Priest who did the ceremony, says that if I leave her or she leaves me, "I am going to be stuck, in a bad way".

  • A priest who would refuse to marry someone because they have a treatable mental illness like bi-polar is not a priest you should be listening to.
    – curiousdannii
    Sep 4, 2020 at 7:02
  • 2
    I sympathise. I appreciate this is a technical question about the "internal form" of marriage rather than asking for pastoral advice — which we don't provide here, because we're just a bunch of random bods on the internet. My instinct (and I've just skimmed through the Canon Law on marriage as well) is that marriage is an inherently public act as there must be banns and witnesses. What was the form of the ceremony? Were there witnesses and a public notice? What paperwork did you complete? Has it been registered with the state? Sep 4, 2020 at 7:14

1 Answer 1


If you looking for a Catholic Internal Forum for Marriage, than I would recommend that you seek out a pastor who can direct you to the priest in charge of the marriage tribunals in the diocese where you are living. That is where the the internal forum for marriages begins.

The Vatican has recently published the following article on the subject: Note of the Apostolic Penitentiary on the importance of the Internal Forum and the Inviolability of the Sacrament Sacramental Seal.

The priest in charge of the Marriage Tribunal, is to be considered an expert on the topic of marriage and all related issues. What is brought up to him is immediately considered part of the internal forum and must be held in secrecy.

Internal forum

The jurisdiction of the internal forum deals with questions concerning the welfare of individual Christians and with their relation to God. Hence it is called the forum of conscience (Forum conscientiae). It is also denominated the forum of Heaven (forum poli) because it guides the soul on the path to God. The internal forum is subdivided into the sacramental or penitential, which is exercised in the tribunal of penance or at least is connected with it, and the extra penitential forum. Causes concerning the private and secret needs of the faithful can often be expedited outside the sacramental confession. Thus, vows may be dispensed, secret censures may be absolved, occult impediments of matrimony may be dispensed outside of the tribunal of penance. The internal forum deals therefore directly with the spiritual welfare of the individual faithful. It has reference to the corporate body only secondarily, in as much as the good of the whole organization is promoted by that of the individual members. Owing to the nature of the civil state and the end for which it was instituted, it has no jurisdiction corresponding to the ecclesiastical forum of conscience.

Sacramental and non-sacramental internal forum

Within the internal forum a distinction is made between the sacramental internal forum and the non-sacramental internal forum, according as matters are decided in the sacrament of Penance, and thus additionally protected by the Seal of the Confessional, or outside of the sacrament.

Thus the name of the parties in a marriage contracted in the external forum are noted in a public register, but a marriage celebrated secretly is to be noted instead in a special register kept in the secret archive of the diocesan curia.

Sometimes power of governance is given for the sacramental forum only: in each diocese a priest is to be appointed who has the faculty, which he cannot delegate to others, of "absolving in the sacramental forum outsiders within the diocese and members of the diocese even outside the territory of the diocese from undeclared latae sententiae censures not reserved to the Apostolic See".

In the Roman Curia, the Apostolic Penitentiary has jurisdiction for matters of the internal forum, both sacramental and non-sacramental, but in some instances its decisions hold also in the external forum, as when, unless it states otherwise, a dispensation that it grants in the non-sacramental internal forum from an occult impediment to marriage, is sufficient even if the occult impediment later becomes public. - Internal and external forum

It is always a poor idea to seek personal advice though the internet. Thus I recommend you talk to the priest in charge of the Marriage Tribunal in your area and seek insight from him. Questions posed to him are considered part of the internal forum and thus are considered questions of conscience. If he can not get you your answer (which I find doubtful), he will be able to point you in the direction necessary.

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