Last week, a New York tabloid noted that celebrated hothead Alec Baldwin was having a big Catholic wedding (his first in the church) at the city’s storied basilica, Old St. Patrick’s (shown above). It also reported that in the eyes of the church his daughter from his marriage to Kim Basinger is considered illegitimate. One reader argued that was incorrect.
But a canon lawyer offers this take:
The reader on your FB page was incorrect. Canon law does deal with legitimacy, though admittedly it’s of little consequence. Because Alec Baldwin’s marriage to Kim Basinger was neither valid nor putative, his daughter is illegitimate. Canon law views his “marriage” to Kim Basinger as non-existent. If he had ever validated it in the Catholic Church by exchanging consent anew before a properly delegated priest or deacon, then, from that moment, his daughter would have been legitimated in canon law. That never happened though, to my knowledge. True, we don’t go around highlighting illegitimacy as a matter of name calling or stigmatizing, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist in canon law. See the following canons from the Code of Canon Law.Can. 1137 The children conceived or born of a valid or putative marriage are legitimate.Can. 1138 §1. The father is he whom a lawful marriage indicates unless clear evidence proves the contrary.
§2. Children born at least 180 days after the day when the marriage was celebrated or within 300 days from the day of the dissolution of conjugal life are presumed to be legitimate.
Can. 1139 Illegitimate children are legitimated by the subsequent valid or putative marriage of their parents or by a rescript of the Holy See.
Can. 1140 As regards canonical effects, legitimated children are equal in all things to legitimate ones unless the law has expressly provided otherwise.
Meanwhile, you can read more about the wedding itself, and who was there, here.
My prayerful good wishes go out to the happy bride and groom. And I promise, for my own safety, that I will never attempt to take their picture.