A nonbeliever as a groom's man


#1

Is it appropriate to have a nonbeliever (atheist/agnostic) as a groom’s man?

Please explain your answer when you take part in the poll.


#2

Would the Church allow this? I thought you had to be at least a Christian to be a witness at a Catholic marriage.


#3

you can have whoever you want as bridesmaids and groomsmen but the two who stand up as the actual witnesses and sign the certificate must be Catholics in good standing.


#4

You don’t have to be Catholic or Christian to be in a wedding party, either just standing there taking up space in a tux, or shlepping aunties and grandmas up the aisle to their pew. Being in the wedding party is not the same as being one of THE 2 witnesses required along with the priest or deacon (usually the maid or matron of honor and best man).

HOWEVER (isn’t there always a “however”), if this is a Nuptial Mass, this particular groomsman is not going to be allowed to receive the Eucharist (at least, I hope not). And why would an athiest/ agnostic want to stand so close to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, as is liable to be required of a groomsman? Is this person going to want to make a bow or genuflection at the altar during the procession, or during the recession? These are questions to consider before asking him.


#5

[quote=puzzleannie]you can have whoever you want as bridesmaids and groomsmen but the two who stand up as the actual witnesses and sign the certificate must be Catholics in good standing.
[/quote]

I have heard a couple of priests, who have some credibility, say that the witnesses do not need to be Catholic.

I can’t find any documentation that speaks to this.

I do recall an incident many years back, the mass was still in Latin, in which the witnesses were not Catholic. The celebrant asked me to stand close enough so I could hear the responses and be the witness as far as he was concerned.


#6

[quote=Joe Kelley]I have heard a couple of priests, who have some credibility, say that the witnesses do not need to be Catholic.

I can’t find any documentation that speaks to this.

I do recall an incident many years back, the mass was still in Latin, in which the witnesses were not Catholic. The celebrant asked me to stand close enough so I could hear the responses and be the witness as far as he was concerned.
[/quote]

Under the old Canon Law, you could have non Catholic witnesses, but required a dispensaiton (on pain of disobedience, but the Sacrament was still valid)

  1. Who can act as witness to a marriage?
  1. For validity — any person who is capable of testifying to the fact of marriage (without any exception).
  2. For liceity — heterdox persons should not be permitted to act, without the permission of the Ordinary for grave reasons (S. Off., Aug. 19, 1891).

Under the new Canon Law, there is no such requirement

Can. 1108 §1 Only those marriages are valid which are contracted in the presence of the local Ordinary or parish priest or of the priest or deacon delegated by either of them, who, in the presence of two witnesses, assists, in accordance however with the rules set out in the following canons, and without prejudice to the exceptions mentioned in canon 144, 1112 §1, 1116 and 1127 §2¬3.


#7

Brendan - Thanks - Joe


#8

Here’s where practicality comes into place. At each marriage prep, that we do at our parish, we repeat our instructions at the wedding rehearsal where traditionally all those participating in the marriage ceremony gather ahead of time to practice what will happen,we strongly remind all the couples, that sobriety is the order of the day. Refrain from prenuptial toasting…You need all parties including the witnesses to be sober to clearly perform these vows and witness them. So hopefully, the agnostic witness will observe these strong recommendations and requirements.Also since they are usually not familiar with Catholic practices, like reverence by not chewing gum or wearing a hat, or participating int he gestures of the ceremony…appropriate sitting, standing, kneeling etc and of course reception of the Holy Eucharist are properly introduced to all the parties attending the wedding are explained.


#9

How can the atheist stand up for the groom’s belief if he does not believe?


#10

[quote=Lanciano]How can the atheist stand up for the groom’s belief if he does not believe?
[/quote]

I don’t think the Groom’s Man is there to stand up for the Groom’s beliefs. I believe that he is there to witness to the fact of the marriage taking place.

I voted “Depends”. If the Groom’s Man is willing to respect the customs of the Church, and act reverently in the church, then it might actually be good for him. He could be converted as a result of this experience.


#11

[quote=Michael Welter]I don’t think the Groom’s Man is there to stand up for the Groom’s beliefs. I believe that he is there to witness to the fact of the marriage taking place.
. . …
[/quote]

I’m not sure whether “Groom’s Man” refers to what I call " Best Man" or to one of the other male attendents.

If it is the Best Man, as you say he is there to witness the consent. The other attendents are just there as ornaments.

As you note, in neither case is he there to attest to belief.


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