Can I Marry a Couple?

By virtue of my job, I am a Justice of the Peace. Amongst other things, I have the state’s authority to perform civil marriage ceremonies. I have refused offers or requests to do this, because I always felt this was somehow in conflict with my faith. Recently, a firefighter I know asked me to perform a wedding for he and his fiancee, as his future father-in-law is terminally ill and will not make the originally planned wedding. They managed to rent a location on two weeks’ notice, and the father-in-law is being basically wheeled out of the hospice for the ceremony.
I have made a good faith (no pun) effort to ensure that I would not be somehow perpetrating a fraud on the church (in other words, both are eligible to marry), but my wife says this somehow runs afoul of our faith. My pastor is away on vacation, and the ceremony is this weekend. Help!?!?!


Dear Jim,

If the people to be married are non-Catholics, there is no problem. The Catholic Church recgonizes such weddings for non-Catholics. But if they are Catholics and are marrying outside of the Catholic Church, you should have no part in the ceremony. Otherewise, you are contributing to what is a sinful act for Catholics.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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