Lay catholic witnessing a marriage?


so a good friend of mine from college want me to “witness” his upcoming marriage. I am (god willing) going to be entering seminary, and they want me to marry them. is this possible? it would not be a catholic wedding. please help! i need to let him know if i can or not


NOTE: my friend is nominally Catholic, not practicing, but it would be a civil wedding.


Is he Catholic? If so, there is no way. If he’s not Catholic, what is required from your state to be able to witness a marriage? Do you have to be a minister? A justice of the peace? Is there in your state, as there is in my province, a post that is solely to witness marriages?

Since he is Catholic, practicing or not, you would be complicit in an invalid marriage. Is that something you really want to get involved in if you hope to become a priest some day?


HE is Catholic. baptized, not practicing.


If he is Catholic and he wants you to be the celebrant, tell him he needs to wait until you are at least ordained to the deaconate. As a Catholic, he needs to be married in a Catholic ceremony. As a Catholic, you can only officiate a Catholic wedding as a deacon or priest.


Then the answer is no. He’s committing a grave sin marrying outside of the Church, and to participate in it would make you at least partial culpable for his actions.


thank you for your responses! this bums me out, but i will not break canon law.


NOTE: my friend is nominally Catholic, not practicing, but it would be a civil wedding.

Because your Catholic friend is not marrying in Catholic form, the answer is a flat-out no. While any Catholic should not attempt to witness under these circumstance, this is especially true in your case. Witnessing an invalid marriage is not going to be viewed favorably when you attempt to enter the seminary.

If the person was marrying in Catholic form, it would still be very unlikely that you could witness the marriage as a layperson if the the wedding takes place in a Catholic Church. There are exceptions in this case, but deal with the situations where ordained witnesses are not available and the layperson is delegated authority to witness the marriage.

The more likely scenario for a Catholic layperson to witness a marriage involving a Catholic would involve a mixed marriage. If the nonCatholic party refused to marry in a Catholic Church and refused to have a Catholic priest present, and the appropriate dispensation were granted, the Catholic layperson might be an appropriate person to witness the marriage.


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