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“Does the Parish Priest need the local Ordinary’s permission to assist at a marriage in the Presbyterian Church?

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by January 16, 2018 Canonical Teaching


The case of a Catholic party and a Presbyterian party whose mother is a Deaconess. Based on the mother’s position in her Church, she wants the marriage to take place at the Presbyterian Church. The parties also consented to the Parish Priest’s proposal to be the official witness of the Catholic Church at the marriage. The Marriage course took place in the Catholic Church. The Presbyterian party intends to become a Catholic after the celebration of the marriage. The question is: “Does the Parish Priest need the local Ordinary’s permission to assist at this marriage in the Presbyterian Church?


Can. 1118§1 provides that a marriage between Catholics, or a Catholic party and a baptised non-catholic is to be celebrated in the parish church. By permission of the local Ordinary or of the parish priest, a marriage may be celebrated in another Catholic Church or oratory. According to Can. 1118§2, the local Ordinary can allow a marriage to be celebrated in another suitable place. That means using another suitable place to celebrate catholic marriage according to canonical form. The Church regulates marriages celebrated in her churches or other suitable places according to canonical form. The place of celebration is not a part of canonical form strictly speaking and it is inappropriate to talk of dispensation from the Ordinary for the place of celebration. The Parish Priest only needs permission from the local Ordinary.
On the other hand, if it is not a Catholic marriage then dispensation from the canonical form is required. With that taken care of the priests presence at the celebration, it is not in his official capacity as pastor to attend the wedding at the Presbyterian Church. If the Presbyterian authorities allow him, his status in that celebration is either private or with the authority of the Presbyterians. Since it is unofficial, it really does not matter to the Church juridically speaking. The bishop cannot grant him jurisdiction where he himself does not have it. Consulting the bishop is only a matter of courtesy or prudence.


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