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Ask the Register: May I officiate at a wedding?

Q. May I, as a Catholic, be ordained online to officiate at my best friend’s wedding?

A. No.  Ordination in another Christian denomination, or in any religious or “church” group, is not appropriate or permissible for Catholics, no matter the reason.  Ordination in another religious group implies separation from the Catholic Church, and, in some cases, makes light of the serious and real effects of sacred ordination in the Catholic Church.  Becoming an “online minister” in order to celebrate a wedding is disrespectful of Jesus Christ and his Church, even if it is done tongue-in-cheek, or for the sake of celebrating a wedding.

Some lay Catholics are authorized by the state to officiate at weddings—judges, for example.  Such lay Catholics can witness the marriages of non-Catholics, presuming there are no obvious reasons why such a marriage would be invalid.  Catholics, though, are bound by “canonical form”—Catholic matrimonial law, and so are ordinarily required to be married in a Catholic Church, in a ceremony witnessed by a priest or deacon.  A Catholic should not officiate at the marriages of Catholics in a civil context.  And, of course, no matter the context, Catholics should remember that marriage takes place only between one man and one woman, who intend to commit for life, who are not already married, and who will be open to children, and who will the good of their spouse.

Write to Ask the Register online or at 3700 Sheridan Blvd, Lincoln NE 68506-6100. All questions are subject to editing. Editors decide which questions to publish. Personal questions cannot be answered. People with such questions are urged to take them to their nearest Catholic priest.

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