Slovakia Research Forum

Question 38840



"Does anyone know if marriages in the Greek Catholic church were recoginized in the Roman Catholic Church? This would be in the 1890/1900 time period. Thanks"

Well, if we are off the subject I think the insites at least are running along the original question line. The name calling was and is a shame but what can we do Larry, still goes on to this day and I think sometimes most who "converted" to Orthodoxy did so for a specific reason such as keeping chruch property in the names of the trustrees, etc, not saying some did not want to "go over" but I think alot that were in the parish already just figured I am here now, why leave, I know this first hand here at the Orthodox parishes in Jersey anyway. Again, good discussion.
Submitted by Joy Kovalycsik on 11/30/97 21:15:00EDT

Hello Joy: Yes, I should have said somebody changed their rite, from Latin to Byzantine or vice versa, not "converted" (but converted is what everybody locally said what was done). And, I forgot to say that the town I grew up in also has an Orthodox parish, which my family belonged to. Everybody in town a long time ago called us those "Russians" on the hill, or "tsapy" or "kozas"...goats, because our priests generally sported beards, were married, and had "kids." Great place, it's still the same, except, the Greek Catholic church "converted" to Orthodox (Carpatho-Russian, "Johnstown" diocese) and those who wanted to maintain their Greek Catholic tradition now attend either one of the two Roman Catholic parishes or some established their own Greek Catholic mission parish. Now we, or at least I am, really getting off the topic that Jim had a question about. Lavrentij Krupnak
Submitted by Laurence Krupnak on 11/30/97 17:12:00EDT

Hi All! Not sure Larry the word Convert would apply, maybe if you were going from say Orthodox to Protestant but anyway, as far as my end of the world is concerned I have been told most went to the church that gave them the least amount of hassels and the smaller of the stipends to get married. I have heard this here time and time again if the couple did not have much money they would go to the church that asked the lowest "stipend" price. I do not think it made much difference to alot as long as they were married by a priest within what they understood (I have seen this over and over again in records here) and have seen alot of Slovaks and others who went to the Slovak National Catholic Church as from what I was told they had the best price and it was in a language they could understand at least! Also, this was at a time and these people had different ideas of marriage and all, it was not a big deal like it is now (get married at a certain month, all the expenditures, etc). They just got married and that was that, no big deal. Of course some families gave loud arguments about which church it would be but maybe it depended where you were i.e. industrial city areas as opposed to more or less rural areas and a big consideration is remember, alot of people had boarders in those days and it was better to have them get married before a possible problem would present itself and therefore, they got married and that was that. Good Discussion Larry and all.
Submitted by Joy Kovalycsik on 11/30/97 16:35:00EDT

Hello Everybody: Great discussion occurring here. I want to just add my personal, "down-home" observations about mixed marriages that occurred/occur in my former residence.... small place in the world that hasn't changed in over 100 years. I was born in 1948 in a small coal mining community in southwest PA (1,500 people max reside there). We have two Roman Catholic parishes (one Polish and one Slovak), a Greek Catholic parish, and several evangelical and mainstream Protestant churches. [But, as an aside note, we have more pubs/bars/saloons, or as we say "beer gardens" than churches.] Now, concerning my observation of a marriage between a Greek Catholic and Roman Catholic couple: from my observations, one of the two (either the bride or groom) would simply "convert" to the other person's religion (i.e., the bride or groom, whoever was more "religious" or whose parents put up a greater fuss: "Your getting married in our church or else!) One would convert rather than receive the teaching or opinion offerred by the Roman Catholic or Greek Catholic priest that their marriage would be recognized by both. These attitudes are a carryover from the historical lack of understanding of what is fact and fiction concerning the status of the Eastern Rite vis a vis the Roman Rite from those early days of the late 19th and early 20th in American religious life of our people. Lavrentij Krupnak
Submitted by Laurence Krupnak on 11/30/97 12:32:00EDT

I understand what you are saying Richard but all here I think understand we are speaking of the Roman Rite and Greek Rite Catholic church, many churches use the word "catholic" in one sense or another but here were are speaking of the above, and the Orthodox churches.
Submitted by Joy Kovalycsik on 11/29/97 15:27:00EDT

There is always confusion involved in the use of the word "Catholic" when referring to quotes. Catholic means universal in reach, large, comprehensive. This is what is meant in the quote from Laurence. In one of the Methodist hymns or prayers, this term is used as I have stated above, certainly not inreference to the Roman Catholic church.
Submitted by Richard Tuskas on 11/29/97 14:35:00EDT

Hi Guys! Checked out the Union of Brest and in Article 16 it states more or less that the Roman and Greek Church will acknowledge the others marriages as both are one church. So, in theory anyway it was acceptable but of course as you read the entire document you can see how the terms were broken as time went on by Romes influeance. Also, have seen cases where female relatives for whatever reason married in the next village over in the grooms church, guess it all depended upon the circumstances and the priest.
Submitted by Joy Kovalycsik on 11/28/97 20:59:00EDT

Hi: My ggf was Roman Catholic, living in Zamuto, Zemplin County in the late 1800's. The church records for his first marriage are found in the rolls of film for Rom Cath. For his second marriage, he married a Greek Catholic woman, and to find that record, I had to jump to the rolls of film for the Greek Catholic church. It was as Laurence said earlier, the marriage was performed in the brides church, the Greek Catholic one. The married couple returned to both the grooms home and church, the Roman Cath. one. To find the baptismal records for the children of the second marriage, I had to return to the rolls for the Rom Cath church. Since all the children were baptized in the Roman Catholic church, and counted as legitimate, one would think that the marriage certainly was in fact recognized in both churches? The period involved was 1883 - 1896 for the second marriage.
Submitted by Jim Dvorovy on 11/28/97 20:19:00EDT

Ok Larry, as for here in New Jersey had a great uncle who was married in the Slovak Roman Catholic Church (1904), had their children baptised in the Greek Rite Church and then he was buried young from the Greek Rite, his wife lived after him and was buried from the Slovak Catholic Church they were married in. Since all this bouncing back and forth took place there seems to have been no problem of one or the other acknowledging a Slovak Catholic Wedding (due to the wifes side), Greek Rite baptism (due to fathers side) and both were buried from their own rites in the end. Of course there were misunderstandings, always is of any hiearchy when power is concerned. Good discussion Larry.
Submitted by Joy Kovalycsik on 11/26/97 22:45:00EDT

Some footnotes to my response posted immediately below. Father Alexis Tovt (Toth) was a Greek Catholic priest from Presov. He presented his credentials to Archbishop John Ireland to be the priest of St. Mary's Greek Catholic Church located in Minneapolis, Minnesota on December 19, 1889. Now, St. Mary's is a Cathedral in the Orthodox Church in America. Lavrentij Krupnak
Submitted by Laurence Krupnak on 11/26/97 22:43:00EDT

Hello Joy: We have all (Mark, Joy and I) provided Jim essentially the same answer: that now a marriage in a Greek Catholic (Byzantine Rite) church is recognized by the Roman Catholic Church and vica versa. However, wanted to know about a marriage that occurred in the 1890s or early 1900s. Thus I gave a lengthy discussion on religion. And, in my first response I said that this recognition would depend on whether the marriage occurred in America or in the Old Country. Please recall the first meetinfg of Father Alexis Toth when he arrived in Minneapolis to be the priest of] St. Mary's Greek Catholic Church. Father Toth (Tovt), now Saint Tovt, presented his credentials to Archbishop John Ireland, the Roman Catholic bishop of Minneapolis. Here, from Saint Tovt's diary is how the conversation went (they spoke in Latin): AJI: Have you a wife? FT: No AJI: But you had one? FT: Yes, I am a widower. AJI: I have already written to Rome protesting against this kind of priests being sent to me. FT: What kind of priest do you mean? AJI: Your kind. FT: I am a Catholic priest of the Greek Rite. I am a Uniate and was ordained by a regular Catholic Bishop. AJI: I do not consider that either you or that bishop of yours are Catholic; besides, I do not need any Greek Catholic priests here; a Polish priest in Minneapolis is quite sufficient; your Greeks can have him for their priest. FT: But he belongs to the Latin Rite; our people will not understand him so they will hardly go to him; that was the reason they instituted a church of their own. AJI: They had no permission from me to invite you here and I shall not grant you jurisdiction to work here. As can be seen, during this period in America there was some confussion among the Roman Catholic hierachy concerning the status of Greek Catholic priests and parishes. Thus, Jim, I am saying that if the marriage occurred in America in the late 1800s or early 1900s it is uncertain whether a specific marriage here and there occurring in a Greek Catholic church was recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. Lavrentij Krupnak
Submitted by Laurence Krupnak on 11/26/97 21:31:00EDT

Thank you Mark, you said it better than I tried to. This is why both "churches" will never get along, the actual question was Roman Catholic Church acknowleging Greek Rite Catholic Church weddings and here we are in a theology dispute! Anyway, this is America.
Submitted by Joy Kovalycsik on 11/26/97 19:47:00EDT

Hello Mark: I agree with all of your statements except the last one which was: "There was never any suggestion that marriages among Protestant or... Orthodox Christians performed in their own churches by their own ministers (or priests, respectively) were not valid marriages." From the "official" catechism book of the Byzantine Rite church authored by Reverend Luhovy, the following teaching is made: Is there a difference between the religion of the Eastern Catholics and the independent Orthodox? Answer: "Yes, the difference is great and very important. For although the church ceremonies of these two religions are similar, the Orthodox do not have a catholic faith." Now, from the Orthodox point of view this is false teaching. First, as I stated below, the Orthodox faith is a catholic christian faith. Then this catechism coupled with the fact that in 1054 both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox church excommunicated one another from the "Catholic" (i.e., the universal church established by Jesus Christ, it seems to me that the Roman Catholic Church views any marriage occurring outside the Roman Catholic (or Greek Catholic) as an invalid, christian marriage. Here I'm not talking about whether it is legally valid in terms of secular mandates (marriage license granted by local government authorities). In other words, from the Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic church point of view all other Christian faiths are heretics thus ceremonies in those churches are not valid. Lavrentij Krupnak
Submitted by Laurence Krupnak on 11/26/97 10:44:00EDT

I hesitate to plunge into a religious dispute, but, with an expertice gained from 16 years of Catholic education, I can confidently say that yes, marriages (and all other sacraments) in the Greek Catholic church are recognized as valid by the Roman Catholic Church. This also means that Roman Catholics are free to participate in these events. The statement that the Catholic Church does not recognize marriages within Protestant or Orthodox Christianity as marriages is true ONLY if we are talking about Roman Catholic participants. Practicing Roman Catholics are reasonably expected to receive the sacraments in a (Greek or Roman) Catholic church in a ceremony officated by a (Greek or Roman) Catholic priest. And for the past 30 years the Church has been willing (if not happy) to grant exceptions when asked to for the sake of ecumenical goodwill. There was NEVER any suggestion that marriages among Protestant or Greek Orthodox Christians performed in their own churches by their own ministers were not valid marriages.
Submitted by Mark Sabol on 11/26/97 10:01:00EDT

Hello Rich: Welcome back to the Forum. We missed your expertise on many questions. I hope that you visit Questions 38306, 38278, and 38277; I posted them and you have the requisite language skills to answer my translation questions. Regarding the present discussion (Greek Catholic Church vis a vis the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church), my discussions below was from a layman Orthodox Christian. And, yours were I assume a layman Greek Catholic christian. Since I'm not a degreed theologian I would like to direct any interested person to the "official" position and view of the Orthodox Church on the Greek Catholic Church and the issue of the union of some Eastern Churches with the Roman Catholic Church. Go to From my reading of all points of view (Roman Catholic Church, Greek Catholic Church, and Orthodox Church regarding the Byzantine Rite Churches), they all see its position remarkably quite differently. The Orthodox view the Greek Rite, Byzantine Rite, Greek Catholic, etc. churches as churches, who while maintaining the external forms of their historical traditions (in the case of Ukrainian Catholic and Byzantine Rite Catholics their tradition is Orthodoxy), they nonetheless are united dogmatically and administratively with the Church of Rome (i.e., The Roman Catholic Church) and therefore theyn are not ultimately a separate catholic church. Only those churches of the East that embrace the ecclesiological and theological positions of the Latin Church are permitted to be in communion with it. This posture creates the impression, prima facia, that the Latin Church is making concessions, while giving the appearance that it is the only true catholic church. In reality, when the Roman Catholic Church permitted some churches from the East to unite with Rome it was an attempt to latinize them. The legitimacy of the Byzantine Rite churches exists only by three papal bulls from Pope Benedict XIV (1740-1758). These bulls defined the canonical basis of the "Uniate" Churches and stated their existence is based solely on their recognition of the primacy of the Pope. Therefore, the Orthodox Churches view Uniate Churches as being part of the Roman Catholic Church. Lavrentij Krupnak
Submitted by Laurence Krupnak on 11/26/97 12:43:00EDT

The Greek Catholic Church is not "a Rite of the Roman Catholic Church" -- it is a separate Church (Churches, actually) which are in communion with the Roman Catholic Church. One could rephrase the question as "are marriages in the Roman Catholic Church recognized by the Greek Catholic Church?" since the Churches are equal. The Roman Church depends on the Byzantine Churches' recognition for "legitimacy" as much as the other way around.
Submitted by R Custer on 11/25/97 21:43:00EDT

Dear Larry: I agree with the concept of one church but of course, it will never happen due to the differences, just look at Christ, he tried his best to teach people Gods ways and what did they do to him?, they hung him on a cross as they did not want to stop doing what they were doing and it has been happening ever since. It will never change in Europe, or America as they may all sit at the same table and talk nice but all cannot wait to get out the door and go back to their own ways of thinking. Such a shame but that is the way it is with all religions. Good to have a discussion with you Larry.
Submitted by Joy E. Kovalycsik on 11/24/97 18:32:00EDT

Hello Jim and Joy: I want to add a footnote to the Roman Catholic catechism that I provided below about matrimony. I mentioned that R.C. catechism teaches that marriages in Protestant and Orthodox Churches are not marriages. I need to note that the Orthodox Church is catholic as is the RC church, but the RC church teaches that Orthodoxy is not a catholic christian faith. All Orthodox Christians recite the Nicene Creed, which states, among other things: "I believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church." Regarding Protestants, are they catholic? In my opinion they are also catholic. Their roots are in the Roman Catholic Church and many Protestant denominations recite the Nicene Creed. I'm sure that my point of view will be a surprise to many Protestants. I define a catholic to be a person of, relating to, or believing in the ancient undivided Christian church or a church claiming historical continuity from it. Joy, in summary, I agree that worldly politics over religious opinions and positions must be set aside. We must advocate a universal church, the one that Jesus Christ envisioned on Pentecost when he created his Church. Lavrentij Krupnak
Submitted by Laurence Krupnak on 11/23/97 20:27:00EDT

Dear Larry: As I said, politics takes over after the fact, I have one member of my own family who married for their own reasons in a Protestant church and others who married Greek Rite and Orthodox (in Europe) the marriage itself, and that is the key word, marriage itself, WAS recognized as a valid marriage by the Catholic and Orthodox church as a VALID marriage (i.e. a legal marriage performed under the correct conditions such as no impediments, witnesses, etc), who the heck knew the rules and regs of any church way up in some village someplace, whether Russia, Galitisia or Eastern Slovakia. Of course, each religions laws are going to tell their people they have to marry their "own religion" and I am sure you can find that in Orthodox theology as well as any other religions rules. Again since we are not talking of America here today with all the ecumencial stuff I will go back to the original question, Greek Rite marriages are recognized by the Roman Catholic Church.
Submitted by Joy E. Kovalycsik on 11/23/97 20:06:00EDT

Hello Jim and Joy: I have a Byzantine Rite catechism book in front of me. Here is what it states, among other things, about Matrimony. 1. To Whom should Catholics apply when they wish to marry? Ans. They should apply to the Catholic priest who is their pastor. This should be done long or at least one month before the planned date of marriage. 2. When Catholics are married not before a Catholic priest, but before some other person, are they really married? Ans. No, they are not considered married before God and before the Catholic Church. 3. May Catholics marry persons who are not Catholics (i.e., Mixed Marriage)? Ans. No, marriages of mixed religions are strictly forbidden by the Church. 4. Does the Church ever permit mixed marriages? Ans. Yes, sometimes a duly ordained bishop of the Catholic party (bishop of the groom or bride) can grant permission (dispensation) for a very grave reason and under special conditions. 5. To what danger is exposed the Catholic who marries a non-Catholic? Ans. He (she) is exposed to the danger of losing faith. Etc. Thus, my reading of this catechism suggests that couples marrying in Protestant churches, Orthodox Churches, etc. are considered by the Roman Catholic church (and Greek Catholic church, as it is a Rite of the Roman Catholic Church) as non-marriages. Thus, it is not politics, but church law regarding the status of recognition of ones marriage. Lavrentij Krupnak
Submitted by Laurence Krupnak on 11/23/97 19:34:00EDT

Dear Jim: A valid sacrament of marriage was recognized by the Roman Church of the Greek Rite Catholic Church and vice versa I would assume there, and here. I think most churches recognize a valid sacrament of marriage (i.e. perfomed under the correct conditions) whether Roman, Greek Rite Catholic or Orthodox and possibly Protestant demoninations but after that it gets fuzzy with all the politics and the who is right, who is wrong silly attitudes. In all of my searches I never saw a problem with a church acknowledging that a valid marriage was performed but that is where it stops, then it gets into the political runaround. Good luck
Submitted by Joy Kovalycsik on 11/23/97 14:03:00EDT

Hello Jim: Let me state first that I am not an expert on this issue, nor am I Roman Catholic or Greek Catholic ( I am Orthodox, which is Catholic (see my discussion and responses to Question 37537). From my reading of Roman Catholic Catechism, which the Greek Catholic Church is part of through the Byzantine Rite of the Roman Catholic Church, persons of the Latin Rite and Byzantine Rite (i.e., a "Roman Catholic" and a "Greek Catholic" can marry and the marriage is "recognized" by both. The marriage however is to occur in the church of the bridegroom. The bride may keep her Rite or adopt the Rite of her husband. All children born of such marriage mandated to follow the Rite of the father. Now this is in theory. In late 1800s and early 1900s whether this was occurred in practice was largely dependant on whether the marriage occurred in America or in the "old country." It was the disagreements that occurred in America in the late 1800s between the Latin and Greek Rite churchs that enlightened the majority of the Greek Catholics here to return to the faith of their ancestors, Orthodoxy. [We'll get a lot of response to this one.] Lavrentij Krupnak
Submitted by Laurence Krupnak on 11/22/97 21:35:00EDT

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