Catholics/catholics dating divorced protestents
My sister has been dating a divorced protestant off and on for some time. She is Catholic and he is not. I have discussed with her in the the past the Church still considers him to be married until he would have an annulment and that she shouldn't be dating him. From the way I understand it, technically it is adultery. My sister and family think that it is me being overly traditional, but I think that this is the correct view of the Church. From what I know of him he would never be interested in pursuing an annulment at anytime. Am I right in my understanding of the Church and dating divorced persons? Or is she free to date him. She really wants to marry him, but it would have to be outside the Church because of his current situation. In that case what would be my obligation to attend or not attend?
So tragic, yet too common what you describe. There are a few things to look at that might help remedy the situation as soon as possible.
Perhaps the protestant gentleman (presumably validly baptized), was married to a non-baptized lady. In this case, the bond would not be sacramental. Since they are divorced and separated already probably for a pretty long period of time, and so they obviously were not able to live at peace.
If this is the case, then it would be worth looking into a dissolution of a lawful, non-sacramental marriage "in favor of the Faith."
If he had been married to a baptized woman, and the consent was lawful, ratified, and consummated - then we are talking of a Formal Case Anullment: A forensic analysis of the facts surrounding the very time of their intentions of consent in taking the vows.
If by dating one means something beyond courtship in which there is carnal knowledge, then we are talking either the sin of fornication or adultery anyway.
Don't worry: TO BE CATHOLIC IS TO BE TRADITIONAL.
I think your sister needs to tell him that her Catholic Faith means so much to her that in order for her to ever consider marrying him, it would have to be determined whether or not he has the freedom to marry lawfully and sacramentally. I know this seems like "tough love" - but shouldn't the highest value in play here be your sister's eternal salvation and life as a true and authentic practicing Catholic? Shouldn't her love of GOD and His Holy Catholic Church be the most important love of her life? Ask him: At least he will have the opportunity to answer a clear "yes" or "no" so that your sister can make clear, right, and moral choices for the long-run in her life.
Let's hope that your sister does not attempt "marriage" outside the Catholic Church. If she does, then my answer is DO NOT ATTEND;
However, wouldn't it be wonderful if all this can work out in a way pleasing in God's eyes so that she can get lawfully and sacramentally married?
In that case - of course attend, and be supportive in every way you can be.
God bless you!
Fr. Timothy Johnson