From a reader:
First, please know you are in my prayers. My question: Is it permissible for a Protestant minister to officiate the Marriage Rite at a Catholic Nuptial Mass? This is about to take place at our local parish and our pastor stated that as long as he witnesses (watches) the vows, it is okay.
It would not be possible for a non-Catholic minister to receive the vows of a couple at a Catholic nuptial Mass.
Depending on the diocesan laws and customs, and subject to the norms of the 1993 Ecumenical Directory, there might be some place for the non-Catholic minister in the nuptial Mass – processing in, sitting in the sanctuary, even standing (silently) with the Catholic priest while he, the priest, receives the vows of both parties, offering congratulations to the couple on behalf of his ecclesial community at the end of the nuptial Mass.
If the Protestant minister “officiates” at the marriage rite while the Catholic priest merely “witnesses” the vows being exchanged, we have a likely case of the marriage being null due to a defect of canonical form.
The priest (or deacon) must ask the questions (“Do you, Sempronius, take this woman, Caia…”) of BOTH parties.
If the priest obtained a dispensation from form for the couple, the dispensation should specify where the wedding should take place (e.g., not in a Catholic Church) and who should officiate.
In the interest of protecting the couple from an invalid marriage, it could be prudent to report this matter to the local diocesan tribunal or chancery.
If the wedding has already taken place, it might be possible to sanate it. If it has not, the pastor might be able to be corrected.