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Fr. Tom's Mail Bag
|Q: Dear Fr. Tom, I have a few questions concerning non-Catholic marriages.|
If two people do not believe that marriage is a sacrament, and therefore do not receive graces from God for their marriage, why do we consider them married after they are divorced? I understand acknowledging their marriage because of the state law, but if they divorce in the state, why do we still consider them married?
A: This is an interesting question which touches on many fundamental roots of our faith. As a matter of fact, Pope John Paul II actually addressed this question on February 1, 2001, to the judges of the Roman Rota. (The Roman Rota is the highest appeal court in the Church.)
According to the Church, there are seven sacraments. Matrimony is one of them. To receive a sacrament, the basic requirement is Baptism. Baptism is the door to the other sacraments.
So, if two Protestants are properly baptized, their marriage is recognized as a sacrament and cannot be dissolved for nearly any reason. Civil divorce is certainly not enough.
Although many people believe that a priest administers the sacrament of marriage, this is not true. A priest serves as the witness. The two spouses, husband and wife, administer the sacrament to one another through the exchange of vows. So, whether they realize it or not, when two Protestants marry, it is a sacramental marriage and they receive all the sacramental graces from God.