Dear Father Bloom,
I am hoping you can clarify an issue for me. My boyfriend and I are planning to get married. The problem is, I am no longer a practicing Catholic, although my parents are adamant that they will not attend our wedding unless there is a priest on the altar. We have no problem with this, but I spoke to the priest a few days ago and he said that a priest cannot co-officiate a wedding unless at least one of the engaged couple is a practicing Catholic, and promises to raise the children Catholic, etc. I have been to many non-Catholic or interdenominational weddings where I do not believe that that was a condition. My boyfriend and I refuse to be hypocrites and lie to the priest in order to get him to be there just to make my parents happy. At the same time, I cannot imagine enjoying the happy event without my parents, let alone their blessing.
Is it impossible to have a priest co-officiate at a non-Catholic wedding? Please give me your opinion on this, as I am going home to speak to my parents this weekend and I would like more than anything to tell them that the Church will recognize our marriage. Thank you in advance for answering my question. I appreciate any light you can shed on this matter.
Thanks for the e-mail. First of all I want you to know you (and your fiance) are in my prayers. You are at what is probably the most important moment of your life. And I do hope you will be able to be married in the Catholic Church. When a couple comes to me, I feel they have already taken a huge step just by contactating the parish and I try to do everything I can to make a wedding in the church possible, all the while respecting their consciences of course. As you say, it is important not to be be hypocritical. Maybe just knowing what is asked on the canocial prenuptial investigation questionaire might be helpful. Besides asking the couple if they believe marriage is a life-long and exclusive union and that it is directed to the good of the spouses and the procreation and raising of children, the church asks this question when one is Catholic and the other is not.
For the the Catholic: "Do you reaffirm your Christian faith and intend to continue living that faith in the Catholic Church? At the same time, do you acknowledge the respect you owe to the conscience of your partner in marriage? Do you promise to do all you can to share the faith you have received with your childrenn by having them baptized and raised in the Catholic Church?
For the non-Catholic: Have you discussed with your fiance(e) his/her particular obligations arising from an interfaith marriage?
I guess the thing I would ask, Liz, is that you spend some time thinking, praying, maybe talking again with a priest or someone else whether you could re-affirm your faith at this time. I would hope and pray that you could.
A priest would not be able to co-officiate at a non-Catholic wedding because it would be hypocritical (and deceptive) for him to do so. Your parents for sure would have to make their own decision according to their consciences. The difficulty in all this is that their are so many intense emotions involved it is very easy for people to judge each other. Because of that danger there is often a tendency to just do something which will "make everyone happy." That's not bad in itself but it can cover over problems which will surely surface later.
Anyway, L., my prayers with you. Please write again and let me know how all this is going or if you have any questions what it might mean for you to re-affirm your faith at this time.
Fr. Phil Bloom