"...speak now or forever hold your peace." What if someone speaks?


  1. What happens if, during a marriage ceremony, when the priest says, “If anyone objects to the union of these two people, speak now or forever hold your peace,” and someone actually speaks up? What happens then? Does the wedding come to a halt, and then people meet and discuss the objection?

  2. What about in non-catholic weddings? I’ve never seen or heard anyone ever object.

  3. What if 2 non-Catholic Christians are getting married and a Catholic objects?

  4. What if the Catholic knows that these 2 non-Catholics have been living in sin and both have been previously married in Christian ceremonies and ended in civil divorces?

Thank you in advance for your replies!

  1. Admittedly, it’s a long time since I was at a Catholic marriage ceremony, but I don’t ever recall the priest saying anything like that. I thought that objections were dealt with at the time of the marriage banns publication?

  2. I’ve never been to a non-Catholic wedding so I can’t comment.

  3. In what circumstances would a Catholic be in a position to object? Legal bigamy, perhaps?

  4. As they are not Catholic, it’s no business of the Catholic.

  1. I don’t believe this is used in Catholic weddings since the prenuptial investigation would have revealed anything that needed revealing.

  2. In a non-Catholic wedding, I don’t know what would happen. I would expect that the objection would have to be named then and there and the celebrant would have to decide what to do with it.

  3. If the objection is valid it doesn’t matter who makes it.

  4. What the Catholic knows doesn’t matter since they are not getting married in the Catholic Church and in most other churches it wouldn’t affect anything.

At non-Catholic weddings, when the phrase is used it is “if any person can show just cause that these two should not be joined…”

I think the “I object” is a hollywood creation.

Cannot recall how the Catholic ceremony goes, it has been a long time since I went to a Catholic wedding.

It is not part of the Catholic ritual. That is what the Banns of Marriage are supposed to be for, but even those are not required anymore.

They are no longer useful as the parishes are large and have much turnover. Few people [none?] are aware of the marital status of their fellow parishioners. They have been replaced by affidavits from people who have known the parties for a long time and can certify their freedom to marry.

Unless you know for certain that the person is already legally married and has not obtained a divorce you should ‘hold your peace’. I think that preventing bigamy is a good enough reason to speak up.

if the just cause phrase is used (it was in my wedding!), it is a point to make any previously unmentioned objections known. It may be required by the state (Alaska regulations used to require it).

The important elements for which it is clearly just:

  1. one of them is already married
  2. they are close relatives *
  3. one or both are under duress to marry
  4. one or both are not whom they claim to be**
  • Not common, but can happen. even 3rd cousins are socially unacceptable in many places. While visiting in Detroit, at a gathering of my cousin’s friends, this nice gal & I were hitting it off. David pulls me aside and points out who her grandfather was… and that she’s my cousin. If David had not known, neither would I. Further, I have a 1st cousin whom I didn’t know until well into adulthood; we lived 300 years apart for years.

** more a legal issue than a religious one, but still, if you know someone is not whom they claim to be, it’s an issue.

The Catholic should have said something before the wedding not at the wedding.

If such a grave situation exists as to prevent marriage, you should contact the priest/deacon and make sure he is aware of the situation. For all you know, the couple received annulments, confessed their sins, are free to marry, and you just ruined their wedding day. Never assume to know what’s going on in the private life of others.

In the eyes of God, they are still married. So what if they are legally married or not. God works outside of any government entity.

But how can you know their private matter for certain? The presumed married individual could have validly had the previous marriage ruled nullified. Remember: interrupting the wedding is a serious situation, which will potentially lead to the family ostracizing you, and you could argue that it could lead to scandal.

Your best bet is to contact the priest or deacon if you feel it appropriate and give him notice that there is reason to believe that one or both of the individuals is not free to marry. If you do so, and the priest or deacon investigates and finds that the couple is free to marry under canon law, you should not interrupt the wedding. In the extremely unlikely event that the priest obviously ignores you, e.g. he says “I know she’s married, but I’m going to let this one slip”, go to the diocese.

This is the correct action, and why the Church no longer requires the “speak now or forever hold your piece” line unless apparently forced to do so by law.

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