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As canon 1057.1 observes, a marriage is brought into being by the lawfully manifested consent of two people who are legally capable of getting married.
In other words, the Catholic cleric, who must be present at a Catholic wedding (with some rare exceptions that do not concern us here), does not actually marry the two spouses, because they marry each other.
Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? If two people have found each other, fallen in love, and are taking good care of each other, then let them be.
So what is actually going on at a wedding like this? Canonists and theologians alike have wrestled with this question for generations, without reaching a fully satisfactory conclusion.(The concept of sacramental validity was discussed in greater detail back in “Marriage and Annulment.”) Consequently, if a non-Christian marries a Catholic, in a Catholic wedding ceremony, the non-Christian spouse is not receiving the sacrament of matrimony.If a Catholic marries a Buddhist, a Muslim, or any other unbaptized person in a Catholic wedding, the unbaptized spouse doesn’t receive the sacrament, regardless of the sincerity of his intentions—simply because he can’t. If the unbaptized spouse isn’t receiving the Catholic sacrament of matrimony in a Catholic wedding ceremony, what then is happening to the Catholic spouse?The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1213) and the Code of Canon Law (c.849) both use the same language—baptism is the doorway (ianua in Latin) to the other sacraments. Thomas Aquinas used precisely the same phrase in his Summa Theologiae (III q. (See “Inclusive Language and Baptismal Validity” for a different but related discussion of this basic issue.) This means, obviously, that if a person who has never been baptized attempts to receive another sacrament—like confession or matrimony—he can’t.