True or False: Catholic Marriage Edition

Cammy Pedroja

Image: D-Keine/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Devout Catholics believe they have a lot to gain by following the laws of their religion, namely, entrance into heaven. Sounds pretty good, right? Still, even among believers, not everybody has what it takes to live by a stringent set of religious requirements. The Catholic church takes the sacrament of marriage pretty seriously, for example, so naturally, there are quite a few rules to follow when a Catholic person wants to get hitched.

Catholicism teaches that performing the sacraments (basically rituals assigned by Jesus Christ) is the best way to connect with the grace of God from down here on Earth. And in that vein, the sacrament of matrimony allows a devout couple to enter into a “covenant” or special spiritual agreement with God while they are here on Earth. It's similar to their idea that through baptism, the spirit of God enters the body through holy water. But does that mean just any couple can enter into a true sacramental marriage? Nope! 

The church has a very specific set of rules and requirements for couples to follow if they want to have a “valid” or "sacramental" Catholic marriage. So, do you think you know what it takes to gain entry into the sacrament of matrimony? Test your knowledge with these true or false questions to see if you truly know your Catholic marriage facts, or if you could use a little refresher on the rulebook.


Catholics believe God gave humans marriage, love and sex.

Scripture 1603 discusses how "God himself is the author of marriage."

The Catholic church requires marriage-prep classes before you tie the knot.

The church requires engaged couples to complete complex coursework before they are admitted to a Catholic marriage.

In countries with legal gay marriage, the Catholic church allows same-sex marriage.

Catholic law defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, though some Catholics hope this will change in time to be more inclusive.

Rudy Giuliani had his Roman Catholic marriage to his first wife annulled by the church.

When Giuliani and his first wife found out they were actually related (second cousins), the church granted them an annulment.

One spouse wanting to use birth control is grounds for annulment.

The Code of Canon Law 1101, section two says one partner can never deny the other access to the "acts of marriage," meaning reproducing.

Catholic marriages can't be annulled if they've already been consummated.

Although divorce is almost never allowed under Catholic law, there are several reasons where annulments may be granted, even years after the initial consummation.

Bestselling author Nicholas Sparks is an example of a famous and devout celebrity in a Catholic marriage.

Sparks and his wife, Catherine were both raised Catholic from birth.

Temporary insanity could be considered a valid cause for an annulment.

Canon 1095 covers psychological factors as well as temporary lapses in judgement as grounds for a marriage to be annulled.

Catholics who get a civil divorce will be excommunicated.

Even though divorce is not technically allowed under Catholic law, people who have had a civil divorce are still supposed to be welcome at the church, according to Catholic catechism. However, enforcing that a congregation has a welcoming attitude might be more difficult in some parishes than others.

The average age for a first marriage among Catholics is 18.

Even though the very religious have a reputation for marrying young, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the average age is closer to 24.

Pope Francis has suggested that he's open to allowing women to become Catholic priests.

Even though Pope Francis has famously made many statements about changing Catholic laws he deems to be outdated, he has been direct about his unwillingness to ever consider women for the priesthood.

Pope Francis once said that most Catholic marriages are actually invalid.

In 2016 Pope Francis did say "most" Catholic marriages are invalid. But he later clarified that he simply meant "many" Catholic marriages are actually invalid under strict Catholic law because couples enter into them without fully understanding the permanence of their commitment.

The content of Catholic marriage-prep classes is the same worldwide.

Though there is lots of overlap in requirements, the local diocese where the couple lives determines the exact content of the classes.

If a couple is living together before marriage, they can't have a Catholic ceremony in a church.

It's possible. It really depends on the priest, actually. Living together or having sex before marriage is considered a sin, but doing so won't necessarily disqualify you for a Catholic wedding. Your priest might ask you to move out before agreeing to marry the two of you, or might not even ask about it.

Someone who knows they are sterile (unable to reproduce) can’t enter into a Catholic marriage.

The Code of Canon Law says that both parties must be able to have sex, not that they need to be able to reproduce.

A man who is totally impotent can’t enter into a Catholic marriage.

Catholic law requires that a marriage be sexually consummated. If one party is unable to consummate, because of permanent impotence or being paralyzed, etc., the marriage can’t take place, unless their condition is treatable.

Catholic priests can never be married.

According to the LA Times, there are around 120 married Catholic priests in the US today. The most common way this happens is when already married priests from a different denomination of Christianity convert to Catholicism.

Divorce may be forbidden, but annulments are relatively easy to get.

The operative word here is "relatively." While it's not exactly "easy" for a Catholic marriage to be annulled, there are lots of ways to prove that the initial marriage wasn't fully valid. For example, According to the Vatican, of the 23,302 annulment requests in the US in 2013, 21,079 were approved.

Catholic marriages require more than double the forms and documentation of an average civil marriage.

In addition to birth certificates and marriage licenses, a Catholic marriage also requires extras like proof of baptism, certificate of completion of a marriage-prep course, and completion of pre-marital inventory counseling.

Catholics believe marriage is an agreement between two people, and not the business of the rest of their community.

Catholics believe marriage is a sacrament between two people and God to help each other get to heaven. And they also believe that in a certain sense, a Catholic church community has a responsibility to help each other live in such a way that they'll make it.

Just as with some other religions, like Mormonism, Catholics believe marriage is forever, and continues in the afterlife.

Catholics believe marriage is a way to reproduce and connect with God while humans are on Earth. You may have heard the scripture, '"There is no marriage in heaven." This means that marriage between a man and a woman is no longer necessary in the afterlife. So then, the only marriage after death is the one true relationship with God.

Pope Francis has said he is open to allowing married Catholics to become priests.

In 2017, Pope Francis shocked some Catholics by telling a German newspaper he is open to the idea of allowing more married Catholics to enter into the priesthood. He reasoned that this would be a good way of recruiting more priests in rural areas where they're sometimes scarce.

Even if same-sex couples can't be married in a Catholic church, their marriage is still legally recognized by Catholics.

Even if same-sex marriage is legal in a church's locality, the Catholic church still states that it's unnatural and impossible for homosexual partners to enter into marriage at any level.

A Catholic and a Quaker cannot marry each other inside a Catholic church.

A Catholic follower can only have a “valid Catholic marriage” inside a church if their partner has been baptized. Quakers are a branch of Christianity that doesn’t believe in baptism.

A second marriage is only possible in the Catholic church if the previous marriage ended in the spouse’s death.

It's also possible if the church has formally annulled the previous marriage, and there are multiple permissible reasons for one.

Catholics sometimes call marriage the “sacrament of sex.”

You might think Catholics frown on sexual activity in general, but in fact, in the case of a married couple, the church not only encourages having sex, they actually require sex to make a “valid” marriage in the eyes of the church. Each sacrament has a physical aspect, and in the case of matrimony, that physical part is good old fashioned doing it.

Catholics may not write their own wedding vows.

Catholics believe a married couple has very specific duties to each other and God, and their official marriage vows outline those duties. So you must commit to these precise vows to be married properly.

A Catholic person must ask permission from the pope to marry a non-Catholic Christian.

Catholics don’t need to go all the way up the chain of power to the pope in order to marry outside their sect, but they do need to go over their priest’s head to get permission from their bishop.

Even in the Old Testament days, Catholicism forbade plural marriage (one husband with multiple wives).

At the beginning of Roman Catholicism, the time during the Old-Testament, God had supposedly not yet forbidden his followers from having multiple wives. It's not until Genesis in the New Testament that marriage is defined as a union between one man and one woman.

Catholics believe sacramental marriage is better than natural marriage.

Catholics believe that non-Catholic marriages serve "natural" or earthly human purposes, but do not constitute the couple's spiritual bond with God the same way sacramental marriage does.

Couples who don't want children can’t have a "valid" Catholic wedding.

One of the required Catholic marriage vows stipulates that a couple be willing to accept children if they are given by God.

A Catholic wedding can be held someplace other than a church, as long as the priest is Catholic.

Although there have been cases where Catholic couples received special permission to wed outside, or in a non-church building, you need the rare special permission of a bishop since the rules still state that true Catholic marriages must be held in a Catholic house of God.

The Catholic church will sometimes grant marriages between two first cousins with special permission.

Yes, one of the rules of Catholic marriage is steering clear of anyone too closely related. But since Catholics believe this law came from the church (ecclesiastical law) instead of straight from God (divine law), a bishop may, under rare occasion, decide to permit a marriage between first cousins. It definitely happens sometimes, but isn't exactly encouraged.

Catholics are not permitted to marry non-Catholics.

A Catholic follower can marry a Christian from a different denomination with special permission from a bishop. But the marriage is considered a “natural” marriage only, and not a sacramental covenant.

There's a group of women who claim to be Catholic priests, even though the Vatican doesn't accept them.

An international group of female Catholics, calling themselves the Roman Catholic Womenpriests, are qualified in every way to be Catholic priests, except by their gender. This group of highly educated women were each ordained by a valid Catholic bishop. However, the Vatican and Pope Francis refuse to acknowledge them.

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