Can an Episcopal Priest marry me in a Catholic Church?
April 11, 2006 7:00 PM   Subscribe

Can a Priest from a High episcopal Church marry someone at a Catholic Church? Can they Co-Preside?

We are getting married at a Catholic church but they are priestless our wedding weekend so a Deacon was going to marry us. My future mother in law goes to a high episcopal church. Has anyone ever heard of an Epis priest being able to marry someone in a Catholic church? I know a couple of Episcopal priests have become cathoilc priests. If they can not do it alone does anyone know if they can co-preside over the ceremony with the Catholic Deacon?
posted by UMDirector to Religion & Philosophy (15 answers total)
Response by poster: I should add that we are not doing the entire ceremony with communion and everything (which is why the Deacon can do the wedding as is).
posted by UMDirector at 7:04 PM on April 11, 2006

Probably no, I'm guessing every priest will tell you no. Here's the Catholic Encyclopedia take on it. I would definitely ask the parish priest as I believe he can make this easy or hard. Given that they are using a deacon I doubt they are too conservative. I believe the sacrament is not completed until consummation and the marriage ceremony is largely, well ceremonial. You could make a good case either way and some big names disagree on the importance of a minister in the sacrament. I've come under the impression that the church is trying to expand its demographic and more willing to make exception on matters like this, but the local level is where you have to make your case.
posted by geoff. at 7:50 PM on April 11, 2006

I'm not entirely clear what you are asking.

There's nothing legal or spiritual preventing an Episcopal priest from presiding over a marriage anywhere, except for trespassing laws.

If you have permission from the Catholic church that you are using, there is no legal/spiritual problem.

There may very well be people problems: getting permission from the Catholic chuch you're using may be impossible, and even if you do the Episcopalian priest may feel it's an inappropriate use of someone else's holy space.

If your question is "will this wedding be considered a proper Catholic wedding despite that fact that it was performed by an Episcopalian" the answer is almost certainly no. An Episcopal priest cannot welcome you as a married couple into the fold of the Catholic church. Plus side: that's a short ceremony you can do later if that's important to you.

Last but not least, co-presiding is entirely up to the people involved. I doubt that a Catholic priest is going to change the sacrament in any way, but the assistance of a spiritual leader from a different tradition may be an acceptable or even welcome addition.
posted by tkolar at 8:06 PM on April 11, 2006

what tkolar said. I would think that even if the Epis priest couldn't "preside" over the ceremony, he (or she...Episcopal have female priests?) could be given a place of honor and offer a blessing during wedding.
posted by mmascolino at 8:11 PM on April 11, 2006

Actually, we are talking Roman Catholic, correct? Looking at the Catechism:

"According to Latin tradition, the spouses, as ministers of Christ's grace, mutually confer upon each other the sacrament of Matrimony by expressing their consent before the Church. In the tradition of the Eastern churches, the priests (bishops or presbyters) are witnesses to the mutual consent of the spouses,NT1 but for the validity of the sacrament their blessing is also necessary."

That clear distinction between Latin and non-Latin rite seems to indicate that a priest or deacon is not necessary and that the sacrament is between two people expressing it in front of their church. I believe (seriously) that this requirement is met when and if the church announces marriages. Then we must ask, is partaking in an Episcopal marriage ceremony blasphemous? That's probably a much more debatable topic that will rely on the decision of whereever you plan on attending mass. Your both baptized or at least converted Catholics not having premarital sex right? Any of those conditions would probably tip it away from a "good faith" and more of a "going through the motions", but there are no hard and fast rules.
posted by geoff. at 8:32 PM on April 11, 2006

Episcopal have female priests?

posted by tkolar at 8:34 PM on April 11, 2006

My priest would let you, but I'm from a small town with a pretty liberal priest.
posted by ColdChef at 8:34 PM on April 11, 2006

Okay, just got off the phone with my Episcopalian priest connection and she assures me the a) she can perform weddings anywhere, as long as her Bishop approves of it, and b) she would not consider it offensive to perform an Epispocalian wedding in a Catholic chuch, if the Catholic church in question was okay with it.

She also said that she would be willing to assist in another religion's ceremony, but it would be done as an individual and not in her role as a priest.

Not the most scientific poll ever conducted, but there you go.
posted by tkolar at 8:43 PM on April 11, 2006

No matter what the actual rules are, this will be largely up to the religious officials involved. My mom's an Anglican priest and she's done a range of services with Catholic colleagues.

The above answers all stress what the Catholic church will allow - keep in mind that there will be rules in the Episcopal church as well concerning where services can take place - some dioceses might only let Episcopal priests perform weddings in their own churches.
posted by magwich at 8:50 PM on April 11, 2006

158. Upon request of the couple, the local Ordinary may permit the Catholic priest to invite the minister of the party of the other Church or ecclesial Community to participate in the celebration of the marriage, to read from the Scriptures, give a brief exhortation and bless the couple.

Your question can only be decided by your priest and his bishop and depends largely on how they are willing to interpret "participate in" and you should be talking to them. If it involves the Espi coming in and performing an Epsicopalian ceremony my guess is forget it. Have the deacon do it and involve the Episcopalian in away that is respectful of the place in which you are getting getting married. Let the priest decide what's appropriate.

If you really want the Episcopalian to do the wedding, then do it in their space and get a dispensation from Canonical Form.
posted by shoesfullofdust at 9:19 PM on April 11, 2006

A friend of mine was married by two jesuits in a Church Of England chapel - so at least in the UK you can do it in reverse. He did have to spend ages getting certificates from quite senior bishops in both churches, which i understand weren't cheap. Then again, he is an ecclisastical historian, so he may find navigating these things easier than most of us would...
posted by prentiz at 12:19 AM on April 12, 2006

It is definitely permissible in the wider world of Catholicism. In my home town (Widnes) in the UK is an 'ecumenical project' wherein one church is shared between Catholic and Anglican parishioners (It's called St Basil's from the Catholic perspective, All Saints from the protestant side). It is not uncommon for ministers to co-preside over various ceremonies at the church, including weddings. Things might get more complicated depending on whether you want a full mass or just a blessing followed by civil registration, then different stances on communion come into play.
There's a story about a US Catholic and Lutheran co-presided service on page 12-13 here. (pdf, 7MB)
posted by biffa at 1:32 AM on April 12, 2006

I dont understand why this would be a problem at all. As far as i know there is nothing concerning denomonation on a marriage licence.

Are there some kind of "benefits" to having your wedding condoned by some arbitrary body? If not i wouldnt even worry about it, you are getting married for christ sake, dont let something silly like religious dogma prevent you from enjoying your special day.
posted by I_am_jesus at 7:35 AM on April 12, 2006

I was married last April in the chapel of a conservative Catholic monastery by a female Unitarian minister (my Episcopal priest father did a reading). My father often performs Muslim weddings at mosques.

So, my short answer is, yes, and Episcopal priest, high church or low church, can perform a wedding ceremony on the surface of the moon so long as the property owners give permission.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:23 AM on April 12, 2006

You need to decide if you want to have a fully-valid Catholic wedding. (No matter what, if you follow the requisites of licensure, you'll have a state-sanctioned wedding.)

If a valid sacrament isn't important to you, than the Episcopal priest can do anything that the deacon will allow. Bishops don't have undercover security teams that will muscle you out if you start to break the rules. Some deacons might be permissive, other deacons won't. Many deacons won't know the rules, and will err on the side of being nice guys.

If it is important to you to have a valid sacrament, than you should apply for the dispensation from the diocese and be sure that the Episcopal priest acts only in the manner permitted. Such dispensations are entirely routine and most dioceses have a friendly, and reasonably permissive, attitude toward them -- the Church is pro-marriage and recognizes that fond memories of one's wedding increases the odds, however marginally, that one's family ends up a regularly-practicing Catholic. (There's a much harder line on the qualifications for a nuptial mass, or a mass where one party is a non-annulled divorcee or isn't a Christian of any denomination.)
posted by MattD at 10:45 AM on April 12, 2006

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