QUAERITUR: Does a parish priest have to ask permission of a bishop to allow marriages in the Extraordinary Form?

From a priest:

I am a priest almost 3 yrs ordained last year I was asked to officiate at a wedding which was to be conducted according to the 1962 missal. The PP would not allow the wedding to go ahead unless I had the bishops permission to do so. What is the deal here re: Summorum? Doesn’t the PP grant permission? It seemed that the PP didn’t want to step on the bishop’s toes and abdicated responsibility. I wrote to the Vicar General who “gave” me “permission” for a once off celebration. All in all it still seems like we are working under Ecclesia Dei.

It is amazing how many people who had no interest in implementing Ecclesia Dei adflicta when it was in force, are now eager to enforce it now that Summorum Pontificum superseded it.

The P.P. (parish priest, pastor) there has the right to allow priests to perform weddings at his parish.  He can and should permit them also in the Extraordinary Form. In Summorum Pontificum 5 § 3 he is urged to do so in rather direct language.

The pastor really ought to let visiting priests do marriages under normal circumstances, but he doesn’t have to.  If the pastor wishes he can ask a visiting priest to arm-wrestle, walk on coals, or fetch from its cave on the mountain by the sea the Holy Handgrenade of AntiochHoly Handgrenade of Antioch to prove his worthiness.  All of these are stupid ideas, of course.  Unless there are some circumstances none of us understand in the background, so is asking the bishop for permission.   He wouldn’t do so for an wedding in the Ordinary Form.  It is entirely unnecessary.   The parish priest makes these decisions without bothering the bishop.  As a matter of fact, the bishop would get annoyed rather swiftly were priests to badger him constantly about visiting priests and weddings.

Of course a diocese might have particular law about any priest from outside doing anything.  That must be taken into consideration.  But in general a visiting priest for a wedding is a routine matter and a double standard shouldn’t be applied simply because it is Extraordinary Form.  A double standard is not to be applied: that’s the point of Summorum Pontificum.

Remember: to use the Extraordinary Form for a marriage, according to the provisions of Summorum Pontificum, no permission from the bishop is necessary.  And the Motu Proprio is entirely silent about the Vicar General.

That said, I will repeat… there may be circumstances at work in that parish that we don’t know about.  In that case consultation with the bishop could be a good idea.  But under normal circumstances, no permission is necessary.

Summorurum Pontificum says:

5 § 3.  Let the pastor permit to the faithful or priests requesting it, celebrations in this extraordinary form also in particular circumstances as are marriages, funerals, or celebratory occasions, for example, pilgrimages.

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  1. Shellynna says:

    My guess is that there is a certain amount of courtesy to the diocese and its bishop going on. Before Summorum Pontificum was released, I knew a couple who asked an auxiliary bishop in their diocese who was a family friend to celebrate their “Novus Ordo” nuptial Mass in Latin. Celebrating a “Novus Ordo” Mass in Latin was something any priest, not to mention a bishop, could do on his own initiative at that time. Their bishop friend chose to get permission from the ordinary bishop of the diocese before he would agree to do so. (The ordinary gave permission and the nuptial Mass was celebrated in Latin.)

  2. Philangelus says:

    Unless there are some circumstances none of us understand in the background, so is asking the bishop for permission. He wouldn’t do so for an wedding in the Ordinary Form.

    When we got married, the priest who had overseen us during the entire courtship was the one we wanted to perform the marriage. He was from a different diocese, and my parish priest was thrilled to have him come do the marriage. But he did say he needed our other priest to write him a letter asking permission to do the marriage in his parish. This was the Ordinary Form.

  3. Centristian says:

    Here’s a question: what if a couple to be married wants a pre-Conciliar nuptials ceremony, but they don’t want a Mass at all, Tridentine or otherwise?

    Does Rome allow parish priests to turn back to every element of the pre-Vatican II ritual/ceremonial, or are the permissions limited to the Missal? Can a couple who wants a pre-Conciliar nuptials ceremony without the Mass have what they want, or must they have the Mass in order for the priest to use the pre-Conciliar text for the wedding, itself?

  4. kab63 says:

    Enjoying the movie references (and other content!) today . . . :D

  5. pop says:

    Just a question if I may:

    Is competence an issue to be considered? I do not know what training was received during formation during the last decade or so.

    Since one must receive a delegation from the pastor in order to witness a marriage performed in his parish, then yes you need permission. Of course I’m sure you know that so considering the motivational factors then, should the pastor not check with a competent authority before granting delegation?

  6. James Joseph says:

    We visited a parish in Bishop Tobin’s diocese in Pawtucket, RI. We weren’t allowed the Extraordinary Form even though it had been specifically requested by the groom and his beloved. Due to the difficulty the yound bride-to-be recanted her groom’s desire…. in fear and quite adamantly. The poor girl just didn’t have the energy to win the day. It was just too much of an uphill battle against the parish-helper-lady-with-a-short-haircut (aka. the wedding nazi) who demanded, “In this church the bride and groom ALWAYS feed each other the bread and wine!” and then proudly, “We don’t follow Catholic teaching here!”

    She was kind of obnoxious really…. I wanted to poke out her eyes Monte Python style, but that would’ve caused a ruckus. I am sure Bishop Tobin would lose his lunch if he knew about this.

    It was a wonderful wedding regardless as it was on a Saturday, August 15th. The bride always wanted to be married on the feast of Our Lady.

    P.S. The parish nazi also wouldn’t allow the father of the groom to seat his own wife an even that almost turned an 80 year old man into a raging bull.

  7. James Joseph says:

    Oh yeah…. they also reportedly do a prayer to the Four Winds at that parish. I heard this by word of mouth later one.

  8. grotto says:

    I find it encouraging to read that a priest sought permission from his bishop for a situation he may not be familiar with. It is my understanding that any marriage that takes place in the parish must be officially delegated by the pastor. Perhaps before the pastor delegated the wedding to the visiting priest he wanted to be sure he was in union with the bishop. I find this attitude spiritually refreshing! The pastor would not actually have to “bother” the bishop. A simple phone call to the Chancery would set his mind at ease. Obedience; what a beautiful virtue!

  9. Precentrix says:

    Reverend Father Blogmeister,

    As if you weren’t already high enough in my estimations, the reference to the Book of Armaments just made you rocket sky-high.

  10. Precentrix says:


    I’m no expert, but I would assume that the wording of S.P. would allow that. Even in the N.O. you can get married without a Mass, though it’s greatly discouraged. I wonder if there would be issues from the civil point of view, though, if a couple were to use the older ritual…

  11. MissOH says:

    I second what Precentrix said!
    As if you weren’t already high enough in my estimations, the reference to the Book of Armaments just made you rocket sky-high.

  12. Pete says:

    But it does say 5.1 the pastor should “ensure that the welfare of these faithful harmonises with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the guidance of the bishop”. Seems the Pastor was seeking the guidance of his bishop … depends on how you want to read SP.

    Or is this yet another de facto/de jure discrepancy?

  13. Pete: No. Just your misreading of the Motu Proprio.

  14. ALL: I am talking about a double standard here, not the normal procedures a diocese might have. For this reason I will close the combox. This is getting sidetracked.

Comments are closed.