Q. 1. My niece who is Catholic, is marrying a non-Catholic next month. Her marriage will take place before a Justice of the Peace. She wants me to attend. What does the Catholic Church say regarding attending a marriage before a JP?
A. 1. You cannot attend such a marriage. Even if the Catholic was your mother, your father, a grandparent, your brother or sister, an aunt or uncle, a son or daughter, you are forbidden from attending such a marriage. Such a marriage means that your niece is renouncing her Catholic faith and belief in a Sacramental Marriage. She is defecting from her faith.
By attending such a marriage, you are giving your seal of approval to your niece who is getting married, that what she is about to do is okay. By attending such a marriage, you become guilty of her sin. One can sin many ways as is seen below:
(1) By counsel (if you advised her to go ahead with the marriage);
(2) By command;
(3) By consent (if you agreed it is alright);
(4) By provocation;
(5) By praise or flattery;
(6) By concealment;
(7) By partaking (if you attended);
(8) By silence (if you said nothing about the rejection of her faith);
(9) By defense of the ill done (by defending her action).
You have an obligation to inform her of her error and to encourage her to receive a Sacramental marriage.