Living Together in Our 70s?

Q. I am a widower, and she a widow; in our late 70s, we find ourselves very much in love. Our getting married, however, would create serious problems with our pensions as well as hostile resentment among family members.

Nevertheless, we are currently living together as "married." Are we in trouble with the Catholic Church? We are both devout Catholics and this matter is of deep concern.

A. Here is a reply from Father Francis Hoffman, J.C.D.:

Goodness gracious, growing old can be difficult! Yet it is edifying to hear that you are "devout Catholics and this matter is of deep concern."

If you are living together as "married," then you should be married in the Catholic Church. If you are not married in the Catholic Church, yet continue to live together, you must avoid intimate sexual behavior; sexual relations are sanctified only in marriage.

If you cannot be chaste, you must go to confession before Communion, but with the resolve to remedy your situation and avoid the near occasion of sin. Experienced confessors would suggest that you not live together unless married.

If pension concerns and family resentments are so strong, it is arguably more prudent not to marry and not to live together. However, you can find other ways of keeping company: dining, golf, devotions and such.