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Frequently Asked Questions
regarding the
VALIDITY OF A CATHOLIC MARRIAGE
FOLLOWING AN UNCONFESSED ABORTION

Q. 1. My friend had an abortion. She never confessed it. Then she was married in the Catholic Church. Is her marriage valid?

A. 1. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. "A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae," [CIC, can. 1398] "by the very commission of the offense," [CIC, can. 1314] and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law. [Cf. CIC, cann. 1323-1324] The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society." (C.C.C. # 2272)

"A person who procures a successful abortion incurs an automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication." [Code of Canon Law 1398]

Having stated the above, when a person has been excommunicated, the person cannot receive the Sacraments of the Catholic Church until such time as the penalty of excommunication has been removed by the Bishop or his appointed delegate.

Accordingly, an excommunicated person cannot marry in the Catholic Church. This person would not qualify for a Sacramental Marriage because she would not be in good standing with the Catholic Church, nor in a state of grace.

Therefore, her marriage would not be valid.

Q. 2. If she was to go to confession now, would that fix the problem?

A. 2. If she was to have the "latae sententiae excommunication" lifted and then went to Confession, she would still need to have her marriage blessed by the Catholic Church. The Sacrament of Confession had to be received before the Sacrament of Marriage, not afterwards.




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