Here’s a conundrum for us as the heavy wedding season of Spring approaches. Suppose you have a Catholic friend or family member who is getting married, but without the blessing of the Church? Are you obligated to boycott the proceedings? An interesting discussion on the web page CathNews Australia sparked by this statement by Father John Flader:
Attending the wedding of a Catholic that is not going to be recognised as valid by the Church is an instance of what is called cooperation in evil. I leave aside the question of whether the person getting married actually regards their action as sinful.
They may not, but it is still objectively wrong. According to traditional Catholic moral theology, one should ordinarily not cooperate in the sinful deeds of another, but there are circumstances in which one may do so. First of all, one can never cooperate formally; that is, agreeing with and accepting the sin. This would be the case of someone who saw nothing wrong with attending an invalid wedding.
Does he overstate the case? Check out the original statement by the priest. He is very careful to cover the territory with grace and nuance. Another priest responded in the thread:
Parents must never, never, absent themselves from their child’s wedding, no matter the reason.
God does not stay away from garden weddings, so why should parents.
Yes, it is sinful for a Catholic to refuse to marry in a Catholic church without the proper permissions, but that does not give anyone, parents or other guests, the moral high ground to justify abandonment of the ‘sinner’, often causing grave consequences to familial relationships.
Have your say, yes, but go the wedding and keep on having your say and praying for the couple and evangelising them until they have the marriage regularised.
I’ll mention I have been put in this situation a few times in the past. It has happened with a family member once. Another time I was asked to play for a wedding for a Catholic friend. About a month or two after I consented, he decided to leave the Catholic Church in favor of his wife’s Protestant denomination. Was I obligated to cancel my involvement for a person who no longer considered himself a Catholic? If so, am I barred from playing at non-Catholic weddings too? Or is the case of a “deserter” special?
Has any reader ever been put in a bind in this way? What did you do? How did you reconcile your strong internal beliefs with the wrong you thought your friend or loved one was committing?