How Often Are Dispensations For Mixed Marriages Granted?

Hello. :slight_smile: I was curious. How often are dispensations for mixed marriages granted by bishops? If you petition your bishop for a dispensation to marry a non-Catholic, what are your chances of being granted the dispensation?

Also, are the chances of being granted a dispensation for this situation any different than 60-70 years ago?

God bless you for answering my question. :blessyou:

To marry a non-Catholic Christian requires a simple “permission” from the bishop, not a formal dispensation per se, and is very routine - at least in North America. In my Archdiocese, nearly half of the couples in the Engaged Encounter pre-nuptial retreat are mixed couples. Catholics are a minority so it makes sense. To marry a non-Christian requires a dispensation from cult and may be a little less “automatic” - you would have to demonstrate that you will not be tempted to leave Christianity.
This is all assuming you are getting married in the Church following the Catholic form. To marry outside of the Church requires the additional dispensation from canonical form and will only be granted if there is a truly good reason to do so. My priest is currently seeking this dispensation for me as my future wife, all of my family, and all of her family are Protestants, under the justification “for the peace of the family”.

They are always granted because if they weren’t most people would go elsewhere…

My own parish priest told me it was impossible for me to get a dispensation to marry an Anglican cousin because the only circumstances in which one could be granted would be to royalty, to someone living abroad who did not wish to marry a foreigner, or if I were pregnant.

I said I would be back the moment I had conceived, and received permission to marry in under a week.

More than 40 years later we are still happily married…

As has been mentioned, you don’t need a dispensation to marry a non-Catholic baptized Christian. You merely need permission. (You do need to get a dispensation to marry an unbaptized person.) In many, if not most, dioceses in the United States the bishop delegates the decision to give permission to the pastor or another local representative. (I don’t know what happens in other countries.) So the likelihood of being granted permission is going to vary from parish to parish.

I suspect that a lot of pastors think that forbidding marriage to a non-Catholic is going to constitute a greater danger to the Faith of the Catholic party than granting permission.

Pregnancy is a reason for a dispensation? A good number of priests nowadays would not allow marriages to women who are pregnant because pregnancy could be seen as a forced marriage (“shotgun wedding”) and later be grounds for annulment. They must also go through marriage prep, which takes at least 6-9 months (they baby would be born by the time they finished their classes). They want to be sure that people who get married will stay married, lower the divorce/annulment rate, etc. If they want to get married now, they should still want to marry after the baby is born.

I think it depends on the priest. Some are more liberal and care more about numbers than orthodoxy (let people do what they want, don’t preach about the difficult issues) and others are traditional and would rather have a few strong members than a lot of people showing up who don’t really know their faith (although a lot of these parishes are attracting larger numbers because of their orthodoxy). The last 2-3 generations have had poor catechesis: millennials have parents who don’t know their faith, and some of their grandparents don’t know it either. They claim to know it because they were raised in the faith, but when someone asks them basic questions they cannot answer them or don’t know why the Church teaches what she does.

A lot of priests are not seeing couples who are living together who want to get married, either. They must live separately first and if they do get married sometimes they make them have a small ceremony… they are already living as man and wife and already share a home, so the big stuff isn’t needed. Marriage is celebrating the beginning of a new life together (they already live together) and giving them the stuff they need to start their new household (they already have everything because they already have a household… even two adults living separately would want to go to the store to pick out new things together but if they are already together then they don’t really need anything). It’s kind of like a non-Christian couple who convert to the faith and want to have their marriage blessed. Maybe a small celebration afterward but nothing too big.

Marriage to non-Christians are not sacramental but can be allowed with permission. Marriage outside the Church is usually not allowed but permission can be granted.

The 1983 Code of Canon Law changed the situation with mixed-marriage. In Canada, as another poster mentioned about the US, most bishops have given the priest who prepares a couple for marriage the faculty to give permission for a mixed marriage. Most of the couples in our parish are either mixed marriages or disparity of cult marriages (lots of Salvation Army & and JWs). When it’s a disparity of cult dispensation, the priest has to assure the Bishop that he thinks it should be allowed. In my 13 years of working in the parish I never saw one refused.

Now in the 50s my cousin was granted a dispensation to marry an Anglican (IIRC, marrying a non-baptized was never allowed under the old Code). She couldn’t be married in the church, she had to be married in the sacristy.

If our pastor refused to marry cohabiting couples there would have been only one marriage in my parish in the last 14 years.

Non-Christian couples who convert don’t need their marriage blessed. Unless there was a annulment involved, their natural marriage would become sacramental the moment they were baptized. Of course they could always ask for the nuptial blessing but that doesn’t usually involve a celebration and has no effect on the status of their marriage.

A marriage has nothing to do with buying household goods. And certainly that has nothing to do with the sacrament. :rolleyes:

The pastor/bishop considers each couple individually, so even if the percentage overall is high (or low), that won’t influence the decision for the particular couple.

LOL, are you by any chance a red head?

And was that a first cousin by blood, or is the term used as an endearment to the Anglicans?

I ask, because there were 12 founding families (all Dutch Catholics) in the late 1800’s in the western part of my county, and it was reasonably widely known that anyone from several parishes had to have their status reviewed by the diocese before they could marry. I was joking about this when one of my cousins told a story about one of her (and not my) cousins; the son wanted to take a certain young lady to the dance and the mother was putting her foot down on the matter (the kids were in high school); finally she explained that the girl was a first cousin to her son.

One of the 12 families were my great great grandparents. I am related to so many people I don’t dare spit on the sidewalk…:smiley:

I would imagine very often, because unless you go a-courtin’ within certain ethnicities (like Irish, Italian, Polish or probably Hispanic), the chances you’ll marry a Catholic aren’t very high.

We are indeed first cousins…my mother was an Anglican convert, and my husband was from her side of the family. We have loved each other all our lives …and it was a family joke that I had announced my intention of marrying him aged only five…

And I am happy to say my child’s instinct was entirely correct…

I am not a redhead, but my father, brother and son are…we are originally of Irish descent but thanks to the potato famine have been English for several generations.

I cannot speak for every diocese in France but when I married The Husband, who is a baptized non-Catholic Christian, we had to ask permission from the archbishop. Obviously, the permission was granted. This was in the archdiocese of Paris. The process was entirely painless—just a couple of forms that took about ten minutes to complete. The response came back from the archbishop’s office in roughly three weeks.

Would they have any reason to deny a dispensation?

Evidently not in our case. :wink:

If you’re asking in a general sense, I can’t answer that question, in all honesty. I don’t know what considerations are at play in such a decision. I can’t remember what information the forms asked for and I don’t have a copy of any of them. Sorry!

I don’t know of anyone in Paris whose request for canonical permission was denied, but that doesn’t mean it never happens. (And I don’t know very many Parisians anyway; all of my married acquaintances in Paris are either Catholics wed to Catholics or non-Catholics wed to non-Catholics.)

The Catholic has to say, under oath, that marrying a non-Catholic is not a danger to his/her faith as well as to promise that he/she will do everything in his/her power to have any children baptized and raised as a Catholic. I guess if they can’t in good conscience do that the request for permission or dispensation could be denied.

My parents married in 1969, my mother is Catholic and my father Episcopalian, there was no problem with a dispensation as long as my father agreed any children could be Catholic. They had full Nuptial Mass.

However, an elderly woman I knew was married in the 1940’s, she wanted to marry a nonCatholic who was happy to go along with any children being Catholic, no problem with his wife being Catholic - and the Pastor at the time refused to perform the marriage ceremony, due to him not being Catholic. Eventually, the man got a job that involved working long days, and the woman’s mother siad he could live in a spare room in their house - and the Pastor promptly agreed to allow them to marry, because he felt the danger of them “living in sin” was greater than the danger of her marrying a non-Catholic. There was no Nuptial Mass, just the vows takem privately in the sacristy.

Bit of a difference there!

It is hard to understand the arrogance of refusing to marry someone on what appears to be a personal whim…

Marriage of a Catholic to a non-Catholic is still very much discouraged by the Church.

Remember that the situation (which is pretty normal in English speaking nations) where Catholics have frequent *social *interaction with non-Catholics is a fairly recent historical development.

I’m Orthodox, and my wife is Catholic, and we were married in 2012. We were married in the Catholic Church by her uncle, who is a priest, and we met with a local priest and filled out a questionaire before hand, and participated in a Pre-Cana retreat. There were no problems at all. I assume her uncle or the parish priest where we were married handled the approval. So I would say based on my experience there’s absolutely nothing to worry about so long as you intend to continue in your faith.

You would not get a dispensation to marry a Catholic cousin never mind a non-Catholic cousin unless the cousin was far removed. Canon Law is very strict on this.

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