hey catholics- what do you think of this common latin american practice? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 24 Old 09-21-2010, 03:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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my dh's family is catholic. most of the family is married, but only a few have married in the church, although EVERYONE except dh, married a catholic. they all plan to have a big church wedding some time in the future when they can afford a big wedding, but their first wedding is in the courthouse.

i am always amazed by this. i know that it is common in latin american countries to do this. but, though i am not catholic (quaker), i always thought that you get one shot at the wedding, and that the important thing is that it is in the church. even if you can only afford a reception at your mother's house with 20 people, that you should get married (the first time) in the church. i thought that once you are living together, had multiple kids together, and were married in the courthouse, you kind of forfiet your chance to be married in the church. when i ask dh about this, he says, " that's just the way they do it in latin america, i don't know about the catholic rules , cause i'm not really catholic anymore". when i ask his sisters, they say, why wouldn't we be able to do this? it doesn't matter WHEN you get married in the church, it only matters that you get married.
aren't they making their kids illegitimate? can they really do this and the courthouse wedding doesn't count, and their kids aren't illegitimate cause eventually they get married in the church? i will admit, i don't really know catholic rules and all, but i would think that is a pretty big sin- even thinking that it doesn't matter when, it just matters that you do it. not to mention all the sinning by living together and having babies and all without being married in the church.
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#2 of 24 Old 09-21-2010, 04:00 PM
 
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A civil marriage means absolutely nothing in the Catholic church, so (unless I am really missing something) what they are doing is as good as living together before marriage.

In many countries the couple does have to have a civil marriage first (state rules) but then they don't act married until the part in church has taken place and normally it happens just a few days after or something like that. What you are describing sounds like a "cultural Catholic" thing.

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#3 of 24 Old 09-21-2010, 04:13 PM
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The Catholic Church cares very little about the legal status of a marriage. If you are Catholic and you choose not to get married in the Church, you are not considered married. If you are Catholic and married in a Catholic Church and get divorced, you are still considered married, unless you get an anullment, in which case, you were never married in the first place, despite your legal status. What your husband's family is doing would be considered to be fornication. If they sought an anullment, it would be easily granted because if a Catholic marries outside of the Catholic Church (unless it is one of the few cases when it is dispensed - My aunt and uncle were married in my Aunt's Episcopalian Church, with both a Catholic and an Episcopalian priest and proper prior permission from the Catholic Church), it is not valid.

The legitimacy of children is a legal issue, not a Church issue, so if the couple is legally married, their children are legitimate.

A couple married outside of the Catholic Church can get their marriage convalidated in the Catholic Church. It is not that they are out of luck because they messed up the first time. They would need to go through the marriage preparations required by their church and have a convalidation ceremony. This is most commonly used by couples who convert to Catholicism, but it is also there for Catholics who disobey and marry outside of the Church. Their marriage is not considered valid until this takes place.
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#4 of 24 Old 09-21-2010, 04:14 PM
 
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In many countries the couple does have to have a civil marriage first (state rules) but then they don't act married until the part in church has taken place and normally it happens just a few days after or something like that.
This. In the instances I am aware of, (in Central and South America) the courthouse wedding comes first but really is just a formality. It's just another thing on the to-do list, very much like how we treat going to the courthouse to getting a marriage license. Most of my family and friends don't "act married" until the church wedding.

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#5 of 24 Old 09-21-2010, 04:20 PM
 
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Interesting. If the state requires a civil marriage to be done in a courthouse, could you forego being legally married by the state, but still get married in the eyes of the Church? Or do those countries typically require a civil union along with a religious one?
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#6 of 24 Old 09-21-2010, 04:42 PM
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my dh's family is catholic. most of the family is married, but only a few have married in the church, although EVERYONE except dh, married a catholic. they all plan to have a big church wedding some time in the future when they can afford a big wedding, but their first wedding is in the courthouse.

i am always amazed by this. i know that it is common in latin american countries to do this. but, though i am not catholic (quaker), i always thought that you get one shot at the wedding, and that the important thing is that it is in the church. even if you can only afford a reception at your mother's house with 20 people, that you should get married (the first time) in the church. i thought that once you are living together, had multiple kids together, and were married in the courthouse, you kind of forfiet your chance to be married in the church. when i ask dh about this, he says, " that's just the way they do it in latin america, i don't know about the catholic rules , cause i'm not really catholic anymore". when i ask his sisters, they say, why wouldn't we be able to do this? it doesn't matter WHEN you get married in the church, it only matters that you get married.
aren't they making their kids illegitimate? can they really do this and the courthouse wedding doesn't count, and their kids aren't illegitimate cause eventually they get married in the church? i will admit, i don't really know catholic rules and all, but i would think that is a pretty big sin- even thinking that it doesn't matter when, it just matters that you do it. not to mention all the sinning by living together and having babies and all without being married in the church.
As gently as possible - it's a common practice in your dh's family, and it seems to work for them. Why are you allowing this to trouble you? Why are you investing your energy in trying to figure out if your in-laws are sinning or if their children are illegitimate? Quaker wedding traditions are very different from Catholic wedding traditions. Why does it matter if your dh's family uses wedding traditions that are somewhat different not just from the traditions you grew up with but from Catholic practices typical in some parts of the world?

It sounds like your dh's family are separating the legal and religious wedding ceremonies for economic reasons. It makes sense that couples would look for a way to be married quickly without giving up their dreams of having a big family celebration some day, especially with the job market like it is right now.
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#7 of 24 Old 09-21-2010, 05:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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as someone else posted- this is a "cultural catholic" thing. why does it bother me? cause when you have been married legally for 12 or 20 years, and have had three kids, and THEN decide you have saved enough money to have your big church wedding aren't you breaking HUGE rules of your religion? i don't know, i think if you believe something, then you should follow it.
it isn't a matter of economic times we live in, this is pretty common practice not just with my husband's family. many catholics i have met from latin america do this. my IL's have started to talk about baptism with dh ( who isn't catholic anymore and doesn't want to baptize the kids) and it bothers me if they have a big issue with our religion, but break big rules about their own.
also- honestly, i was really just confused about this. as i said, i am not catholic, haven't studied catholicism, and i really only know what most non-catholic's would know. i always thought having kids and living together without being married in the church was a big sin, but i guess for some catholics it isn't. since his family couldn't really answer me beyond- that's how we do it and it doesn't matter- that really didn't satisfy my curiousity- i figured folks on here would be able to say something about it.
sorry if i seemed to be picking on latino catholics -at the heart of this, i am really just confused about the rules regarding this. a pp said this was considered fornication, and then somebody else mentioned convalidation. i believe one of my cousin-in-laws ended up having this (they had their church wedding in the states) and he and his wife were a little miffed that it wasn't a full ceremony and mass. the family was a little gossipy about that fact. so- yeah, i was wondering what they were expecting. most of the IL's have their big church wedding in Latin America, where they say that the priests will do a full ceremony and mass.
i realize, often people can't afford a big wedding- but isn't the important part that you got married in the church- not that you invited 150 people and had a horse drwan carriage and 7 course meal?
so- didn't mean to offend anyone- really i am just confused about the practice.
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#8 of 24 Old 09-21-2010, 05:52 PM
 
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Interesting. If the state requires a civil marriage to be done in a courthouse, could you forego being legally married by the state, but still get married in the eyes of the Church? Or do those countries typically require a civil union along with a religious one?
This could be done, but usually it isn't allowed. The CC wants people to observe the legal requirements of the state.

I am wondering, is this just your dh's family that they wait so long, or a more general trend in that area?

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#9 of 24 Old 09-21-2010, 06:14 PM
 
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why does it bother me? cause when you have been married legally for 12 or 20 years, and have had three kids, and THEN decide you have saved enough money to have your big church wedding aren't you breaking HUGE rules of your religion? i don't know, i think if you believe something, then you should follow it.
I agree. And yes, they should be getting married in the Church by a priest, not at the courthouse.

Dh and I married at the courthouse as atheist, but were told by our priest that since we converted together, that made our marriage valid.
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#10 of 24 Old 09-21-2010, 07:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Dh and I married at the courthouse as atheist, but were told by our priest that since we converted together, that made our marriage valid.
see, that would be a situation i could understand, you weren't catholic before, but converted, so you wanted the wedding ceremony to make sure your marriage was valid with your church.

this isn't that situation. as far as i can tell, this is pretty common in south and central america. not everyone does this, i have a SIL who was married in the church originally, a BIL who was not ( he has been married for 10 years, they are having their 3rd kid, plan the church wedding sometime in the next 2-3 years), a SIL who didnt, a SIL who is in about a month.
so, i know that many people get married in the church originally in south america, but i know many people who plan the church wedding for many years later.
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#11 of 24 Old 09-21-2010, 07:49 PM
 
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If they sought an anullment, it would be easily granted because if a Catholic marries outside of the Catholic Church (unless it is one of the few cases when it is dispensed - My aunt and uncle were married in my Aunt's Episcopalian Church, with both a Catholic and an Episcopalian priest and proper prior permission from the Catholic Church), it is not valid.
They wouldn't get an annulment. As far as the Church goes, they weren't married at all, so no annulment is needed.
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#12 of 24 Old 09-21-2010, 08:26 PM
 
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They wouldn't get an annulment. As far as the Church goes, they weren't married at all, so no annulment is needed.
I don't think so, they would still have to go through the process, it would be pretty simple to have it declared invalid though. That is pretty much what an annulment is in the Catholic Church- the process of the CC saying "no, this was never a valid marriage."

If they were really married according to the CC, then no annulment would be possible.

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#13 of 24 Old 09-21-2010, 08:30 PM
 
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I think this is an odd sort of custom. After being legally married for 10 years and having three kids, having a big party church wedding then seems like it would be a bit strange: it wouldn't feel like a new marriage; the couple would already have made a commitment to each other; and the whole vow before God thing wouldn't seem to be terribly important to the couple. So it seems like the point is to just have a big party for the couple. So why not just have a small church wedding, and a huge 10 year anniversary bash with a really awesome dress?

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#14 of 24 Old 09-21-2010, 08:42 PM
 
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I don't think so, they would still have to go through the process, it would be pretty simple to have it declared invalid though. That is pretty much what an annulment is in the Catholic Church- the process of the CC saying "no, this was never a valid marriage."

If they were really married according to the CC, then no annulment would be possible.

If the Catholic Church doesn't recognize their marriage, how can they annul it?
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#15 of 24 Old 09-21-2010, 09:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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yes, bluegoat, that is what i always thought they should have done.

irishma- i had a friend who was jewish, he and his first wife were married in a synagouge. later, they divorced and she converted and was tryiing to have a catholic wedding. she needed to get an annulment from her first husband and he wouldn't do it. he needed to write a letter saying that he agreed to the annulment, but he wouldn't write it. they had 3 kids and he said it was ridiculous to say that they had "never been married". so, she never got her catholic wedding. so i don't think you need to have had a catholic wedding for you to need an annulment.
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#16 of 24 Old 09-22-2010, 02:50 AM
 
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Whether an annulment is needed complitely depends on the couple's circumstances. E.g. when two Christians marry, the marriage is assumed to be valid, unless proven otherwise. There are some things that would automatically mean the marriage was not valid, such as using wording that means the couple is not committing to the marriaga until one of them dies. This is now possible e.g. in the Lutheran church where I live.

CherryBomb... I have NEVER heard of the situation you described. Frankly, I would question whether your priest was right.

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#17 of 24 Old 09-22-2010, 02:55 AM
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as someone else posted- this is a "cultural catholic" thing. why does it bother me? cause when you have been married legally for 12 or 20 years, and have had three kids, and THEN decide you have saved enough money to have your big church wedding aren't you breaking HUGE rules of your religion? i don't know, i think if you believe something, then you should follow it.
it isn't a matter of economic times we live in, this is pretty common practice not just with my husband's family. many catholics i have met from latin america do this. my IL's have started to talk about baptism with dh ( who isn't catholic anymore and doesn't want to baptize the kids) and it bothers me if they have a big issue with our religion, but break big rules about their own.
also- honestly, i was really just confused about this. as i said, i am not catholic, haven't studied catholicism, and i really only know what most non-catholic's would know. i always thought having kids and living together without being married in the church was a big sin, but i guess for some catholics it isn't. since his family couldn't really answer me beyond- that's how we do it and it doesn't matter- that really didn't satisfy my curiousity- i figured folks on here would be able to say something about it.
sorry if i seemed to be picking on latino catholics -at the heart of this, i am really just confused about the rules regarding this. a pp said this was considered fornication, and then somebody else mentioned convalidation. i believe one of my cousin-in-laws ended up having this (they had their church wedding in the states) and he and his wife were a little miffed that it wasn't a full ceremony and mass. the family was a little gossipy about that fact. so- yeah, i was wondering what they were expecting. most of the IL's have their big church wedding in Latin America, where they say that the priests will do a full ceremony and mass.
i realize, often people can't afford a big wedding- but isn't the important part that you got married in the church- not that you invited 150 people and had a horse drwan carriage and 7 course meal?
so- didn't mean to offend anyone- really i am just confused about the practice.
Maybe the idea of baptism (which is pretty important to a number of groups of devout Christians, as some, particularly in the older generation, believe that unbaptized children are condemned to spend eternity in hell if they die) is more important to your relatives than the idea of marriage.

I think expecting logical consistency in people's religious beliefs is a lost cause, particularly when the people involved are relatives. Neither faith nor relatives are strictly rational.

If you don't want your children baptized, don't do it. Say "no, thank you," and move on. And then say it again if you need to, which you probably will.

But maybe your feelings about the importance of being married in a church can help you understand your il's feelings about the importance of baptism. Guessing from their choices, it sounds like being baptized is a lot more important to your in-laws than being married in a church. I see that being married in a church is very important to you. It seems your in-laws don't see it that way. From your concerns about living in sin and illegitimate children, it seems you are deeply concerned about the state of your in-laws' souls. Imagine how anxious they must be feeling about the souls of your unbaptized children.

Whatever you decide, understanding whether or not your ILs are living in sin is not going to stop them from asking about baptism for your DCs. Knowing whether your nieces and nephews are considered illegitimate by a religious institution you don't belong to is not going to enlighten you about Catholic doctrine in re. the proper time and manner for the commencement of marital relations. Technically, they may be sinful fornicators and their children may be illegitimate, but why would you want to slap those labels on your family?
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#18 of 24 Old 09-22-2010, 06:14 AM
 
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I don't see the OP as trying to slap any labels on anyone. Just that this whole thing is rather confusing. I think being able to figure out where the relatives stand when it comes to their faith might help OP to deal with them better. (I doubt she is about to go and tell them that they are fornicators, etc.) I think it is great when people want to understand. As a Catholic it makes me very happy that, instead of thinking "all Catholics must be like that", OP wants to know...

BTW, it would be quite uncatholic to call someone a fornicator... The priest needs to talk with the relatives gently (but firmly) so they at least will understand that they are not doing what Catholics are supposed to do (and why). After that it is not up to anyone other than the people involved to make decisions about their lives.

One more interesting point is that some priests would not baptize their babies, as they would feel that the parents are not wanting to practice the faith. It is a pretty big deal to basically ignore one sacrament and then ask for another... BUT such is the world we live in and the priests there know the situation best. I don't envy the priests, though, if this really is a wide spread practice. Somewhere along the line teaching basic things has not taken place.

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#19 of 24 Old 09-22-2010, 02:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't see the OP as trying to slap any labels on anyone. Just that this whole thing is rather confusing. I think being able to figure out where the relatives stand when it comes to their faith might help OP to deal with them better. (I doubt she is about to go and tell them that they are fornicators, etc.) I think it is great when people want to understand. As a Catholic it makes me very happy that, instead of thinking "all Catholics must be like that", OP wants to know...

BTW, it would be quite uncatholic to call someone a fornicator... The priest needs to talk with the relatives gently (but firmly) so they at least will understand that they are not doing what Catholics are supposed to do (and why). After that it is not up to anyone other than the people involved to make decisions about their lives.

One more interesting point is that some priests would not baptize their babies, as they would feel that the parents are not wanting to practice the faith. It is a pretty big deal to basically ignore one sacrament and then ask for another... BUT such is the world we live in and the priests there know the situation best. I don't envy the priests, though, if this really is a wide spread practice. Somewhere along the line teaching basic things has not taken place.
thank you. this is what i wanted to know- what the church would probably think.
personally, i do not care how someone marries, or if they even do. i will not allow my children to be baptized cause we don't believe in baptism. it isn't an issue in terms of what will happen. interstingly enough, they don't baptize at birth, some kids are baptized, some aren't. they don't seem to be too worried about when their kids are baptized- i don't think they worry about their souls in terms of if they should die.

it is pretty widespread practice in latin america, so that was what i wanted to know becuase i was confused simply from an anthropological POV. i just really didn't understand cuz i always thought it was VERY important to be married in the church. i know that in many places in latin america, the rules aren't really followed that well. for lots of reasons- but i just really wanted to understand. i personally don't consider anyone afornicator or illegitamate or anything- i was trying to understand what the church's consequences were in terms of their souls and their beliefs. i personaly don't believe any of that, but then i'm not the one calling myself catholic.
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#20 of 24 Old 09-22-2010, 03:35 PM
 
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If the Catholic Church doesn't recognize their marriage, how can they annul it?
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Whether an annulment is needed complitely depends on the couple's circumstances. E.g. when two Christians marry, the marriage is assumed to be valid, unless proven otherwise. If two atheists marry, it cannot be a sacramental marriage in the eyes of the Church, thus not valid. So, if there is a divorce and one becomes Catholic, he or she may request to go through the process to find out whether the marriage was one in the eyer of the church. There are some things that would automatically mean the marriage was not valid, such as using wording that means the couple is not committing to the marriaga until one of them dies. This is now possible e.g. in the Lutheran church where I live.
.

It is not true that two non-Christians cannot be married. If this were true, all people alive before Christ, including Mary and Joseph, or Mary's parents or cousin, would not really be married!

The CC recognizes two kinds of marriage. THe kind between two baptized Christians is sacramental marriage. If one or both are not baptized, it is called a natural marriage. This is an aspect of what some might call natural law. Such a marriage can be valid. If the unbaptized members become baptized, it becomes a sacramental marriage without any other action on the part of those involved.

The Catholic Church does not believe it is possible to dissolve a valid sacramental marriage, and a valid natural marriage can only be dissolved under specific circumstances. Normally it can simply investigate a marriage, and determine if it was indeed real. They then declare that there never was a marriage. But on the face, it assumes that every marriage is indeed valid, and it must investigate before it will declare that it isn't.

To put it another way, without investigating, how will they know if they recognize the marriage? And when they have decided they don't, how do people describe that? They call it an annulment.

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#21 of 24 Old 09-22-2010, 04:21 PM
 
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Sorry, OP is absolutely right about natural marriage! I got myself all confused about the idea of a catholic marrying outside of Church, etc.

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#22 of 24 Old 09-22-2010, 05:33 PM
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I don't really know much about this being a common Hispanic cultural practice, but the one person I know who did this was Hispanic, so you may be right. There are many reasons why different groups of people may be less likely to follow certain teachings of the Church, and it may or may not have anything to do with how much they believe the Church. Many regions of the world do not have as easy access to the teachings of the Church as we have in the US, so they are simply uninformed that what they are doing is out of line with Church teaching. Even though people in the US may have great access to Catholic teaching, unless they look for it, they still may be uninformed. Many places, certain teachings aren't emphasized, or if many people disagree with certain teachings, people may think that those teachings are unimportant or may be confused about the teachings. In the US, it is very common to find Catholics using contraception, even though it is forbidden by the Church. I think a lot of this is because of disagreement and confusion over what the Church teaches. I really couldn't judge their hearts. That is for God alone.
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#23 of 24 Old 09-22-2010, 06:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't really know much about this being a common Hispanic cultural practice, but the one person I know who did this was Hispanic, so you may be right. There are many reasons why different groups of people may be less likely to follow certain teachings of the Church, and it may or may not have anything to do with how much they believe the Church. Many regions of the world do not have as easy access to the teachings of the Church as we have in the US, so they are simply uninformed that what they are doing is out of line with Church teaching. Even though people in the US may have great access to Catholic teaching, unless they look for it, they still may be uninformed. Many places, certain teachings aren't emphasized, or if many people disagree with certain teachings, people may think that those teachings are unimportant or may be confused about the teachings. In the US, it is very common to find Catholics using contraception, even though it is forbidden by the Church. I think a lot of this is because of disagreement and confusion over what the Church teaches. I really couldn't judge their hearts. That is for God alone.
i think this is probably what happens. most of the latin american countries have very remote areas, there weren't always priests available, i know my SIL had a lay person come and bless her house and i thought only priests could perform a ceremony like that, but they said otherwise.
i also know, at least in the country where DH is from, often if the local culture had one practice, then the church officials there ( and recently they are more often from that area) kind of ignored it or let it slide. i think this is what happens with the marriage and the baptism. they were taught or allowed to believe, that you could baptize whenever you found the godparents you wanted your kids to have.
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#24 of 24 Old 09-22-2010, 08:24 PM
 
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i think it's also important to remember that latin american catholicism has a lot of synchretism (mixing indigenous and european beliefs). here in peru, a generation ago, it was common for catholics to participate in 'kidnapping' the bride (aka the bride snuck off with the groom and then the groom went back to ask for her hand from the bride's parents), instead of having a formal wedding ceremony. i'm pretty sure that has roots in indigenous traditions.

catholicism in latin america is pretty different to european or US catholicism. local traditions and heritage play a big role, especially since the Church hasn't always had a strong presence as far as religious education. even many of the extremely devout catholics i know don't have a deep understanding of official church doctrine. also, many rural churches share a priest among a wide area, so they might celebrate mass once a month.

also, catholic churches in latin america charge a LOT for church weddings. that, plus the social obligation that a church wedding will have a reception involving a huge party for everyone you know, makes a church wedding unaffordable to most couples. it's much more common to say that you are married once you start living together (even doing the civil ceremony isn't universal...again, it costs money).

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