The Sacrament of Matrimony

Marriage is a covenant by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of love which is life-long, exclusive and open to having children. All Catholics who wish to marry are bound to get married before a Catholic priest or deacon and two witnesses. Any marriage of a Catholic which is contracted 'outside the Church' (for example, in a Registry Office, a non-Catholic church or a place specially licensed for civil marriages) is null and void, except in the rare case of permission having been given beforehand by the local Bishop. Special permission has to be sought for a Catholic to marry a baptised non-Catholic or an unbaptised person. This permission is sought by the Catholic priest or deacon responsible for the preparation.
In order to get married, a period of careful preparation is required, and couples must attend a Parish Marriage Preparation Programme or a Programme in another suitable place outside their home parish approved by the Church. At least six months' notice is usually required in order to allow time for proper spiritual preparation to take place and for all the necessary documentation to be assembled. In the case of a couple, only one of whom is a Catholic, the parish priest of the Catholic party has to see to the preparation. And so, for instance, if the Catholic party wishes to get married outside their home parish, he or she must first approach his or her priest where he or she lives.


Copyright ©2003
St. Bernadette Catholic Church