Would it be legitimate in the eyes of the Church if two Catholics eloped civilly prior to receiving a Catholic wedding - then later enter in to a canonically valid marriage after the 8 month waiting/marriage prep. period required by the Catholic church is over?

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    As far as I know, two Catholics who get "married" civilly (or any other non-Catholic way) are automatically excommunicated. They would have to be absolved of that excommunication before they could have a Catholic wedding (and before they could receive any other sacrament except Penance). Jun 6, 2022 at 23:12
  • @AndreasBlass No, there is no excommunication. I guess what you mean is that people who are living like wife and husband without marriage Sacrament cannot receive absolution, but that's due to lack of repentance (assuming they do not see anything wrong in premarital sex and will continue doing so), not due to excommunication. There's a list of offences that can be (or automatically are) incurred with excommunication on wikipedia. Jun 14, 2022 at 22:41
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    @Yksisarvinen I checked Fr. Heribert Jone's book "Moral Theology" and I can't find anything about automatic excommunication for getting married civilly. So I think you're right about that. Fr. Jone does however, list (in Section 438, item 1) automatic excommunication (reserved to the local Ordinary) for Catholics getting married before a non-Catholic minister. Jun 15, 2022 at 2:45

1 Answer 1


No, as this is considered adultery. But it's not a barrier to Catholic marriage later.

Civil marriage (as in by administrative officer) is not considered valid by C.C. I know this for a fact(s):

  1. Information given when attending pre-marital course as required by CC for marriage (with a host of other, very useful news).
  2. I know of at least two couples where this exact scenario happened: first, the civil union, then after a 6-8 months church marriage. Not sure of the penance, though.
  • Can you provide a link that the Catholic Church allows such an exemption for the UK? I doubt that the ”UK's civil marriage is still considered a valid marriage for C.C. “
    – Ken Graham
    Jun 6, 2022 at 12:49
  • @KenGraham - Re-edited answer. Because you're correct. And my edits before publication of it left it in the wrong place. But still looking for that source you asked.
    – AcePL
    Jun 6, 2022 at 12:56
  • @KenGraham - Ok, so I've refreshed my memory and had conversations with other people. And I confused the two - sorry for that, but it was 9 years ago. C.C. and C. o E. have same view on civil and church marriage, but slightly different process. The main issue there is that the church ceremony might not look like it and non-English people often confused the two. So we were told - in that pre-marital course - that if any of us were previously married in UK, they must speak to priest privately to make sure what kind it was.
    – AcePL
    Jun 10, 2022 at 15:44

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