Full Question

If two people live together before marriage and do not go to confession before their wedding in a Catholic Church, is their marriage valid in the eyes of the Church?


The validity of the sacrament does not depend on the holiness of the couple.
“This is the meaning of the Church’s affirmation that the sacraments act ex opere operato [literally, ‘by the very fact of the action being performed’], i.e., by virtue of the saving work of Christ, accomplished once for all. It follows that ‘the sacrament is not wrought by the righteousness of either the celebrant or the recipient but by the power of God.’ From the moment that a sacrament is celebrated in accordance with the intention of the Church, the power of Christ and his Spirit acts in and through it, independently of the personal holiness of the minister” (CCC 1128).


  • Mav says:

    I know of a couple who lived together for quite awhile then just got civilly married. They wanted to do a church ceremony but decided to go to confession first before planning the whole thing. She told me that when the priest her confession – that they have been living together out of marriage, the priest dismissed her & wouldn’t hear her further. Didn’t even bother to tell her what penance she could at least do. This happened in a popular church in the southern part of Texas. After the experience she said, she began to have misgivings about the Catholic church.

  • Frances says:

    After reading this am sure glad that the Pope is replacing all these ‘Holier than thou’, priests; with more compassionate priests…Which part of the scriptures don’t these priests understand.. that Jesus came to this earth to save the sinner and not the righteous…
    Excerpts: St. Fautina’s Dairy – I have noticed many times that God tries certain people on account of those things about which He spoke to me, for mistrust displeases Jesus. Once, when I saw that God had tried a certain Archbishop [Jalbrzykowski] because he was opposed to the cause and distrustful of it, I felt sorry for him and pleaded with God for him, and God relieved his suffering. God is very displeased with lack of trust in Him, and this is why some souls lose many graces. Distrust (59) hurts His most sweet Heart, which is full of goodness and incomprehensible love for us. A priest should sometimes be distrustful in order to better ascertain the genuineness of gifts bestowed on a given soul; and when he does so in order to direct the soul to deeper union with God, his will be a great and incomprehensible reward indeed. But there is a great difference between this and disrespect and distrust of divine graces in a soul simply because one cannot comprehend and penetrate these things with one‟s mind, and this latter is displeasing to the Lord. I greatly pity souls who encounter inexperienced priests. (166)

  • Clifford V says:

    May God forgive the priest for his poor knowledge and judgement.

  • TM McFoots says:

    Don’t be too quick to judge the priest. If the couple had been living together for quite a while, as you mentioned, and then married in a civil ceremony, that doesn’t change the fact that the Church does not recognize the civil marriage as sacramentally valid. Yes, it is a lawful, and binding marriage, but not a sacramental marriage. So, while the Church does recognize the civil marriage as legally valid, it does not recognize it as a sacramental marriage. Most likely the priest instructed the couple to stop having relations until they could be married in the Church, in order to have their marriage blessed. Since the Church doesn’t recognize a civil union as sacramentally valid in the eyes of God, if the couple continued to have relations before the marriage was blessed, they would be considered living in sin, and if they refused to stop until they could be married in the Church, then the priest could not give absolution, for a sin they refused to stop committing. My guess would be that if the priest dismissed her without hearing any further confession, it was because her confession was made without the intention to stop sinning.

  • Robert Gardner says:

    We taught a pre-marriage encounter at our Catholic church for some time. The church asks the couple to abstain from sex for 6 months before marriage. It makes the wedding special and is out of respect, such as not eating before mass one hour.

  • Francis Mpekansambo says:

    Your Sacrament of confession is either fake/incomplete/unholy if it does not spur you into good works and done while you still enjoy fruits of the sin. If you approach God with an intention of hurting him again, tats not reconciliation, that’s spiritual death. Hard painful truth.

  • Mollie Baker says:

    The answer above is correct, but it fails to bring up the question of the man and the woman being properly disposed to receive the graces of the sacrament. Yes it may be a valid sacrament, but the graces can not flow from it into them because they are in a state of sin—i.e., they have separated themselves from Christ, the Vine who gives life to the branches. For the sacrament to do its saving work, they need to make their souls right with God through Confession.

  • Mary mcgrory says:

    Would it be wrong to Let a Catholic divorced and now married to each other in registrar office to sleep together in out house?

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