From a reader…
A church-going Catholic friend of my daughter was asked to officiate at the wedding of a non-Catholic couple, by becoming a “minister” of an on-line “church”. I assume that legally this is permissible as far as the State is concerned, but it seems a serious violation of canon law regarding the Catholic layperson. I’ve researched on line but haven’t been able to find a definitive answer, (at least not one from a trustworthy authority). But it definitely doesn’t pass the “smell test”. Secondarily, what suggestion do you have for my daughter, who was told of this plan by the bride-to-be, and who is friends with the minister-to-be’s wife? Thank you for your help.
1983 CIC can. 1364 establishes the penalty of excommunication for all those who apostasize from the faith, embrace heresy or schism. This has to be a conscious and intentional action. Someone who, poorly catechized, wanders away from the regular practice of the faith and starts attending a non-Catholic Church probably wouldn’t fall under the penalty of excommunication, although he would need a good, thorough confession to come back to the sacraments.
Someone who gets ordained in another denomination… well, that’s another story.
It would be difficult to explain how one could get ordained through mere negligence.
“Oooops! Got ordained! Sorry ’bout that. Didn’t mean… hah hah….”
Requesting “ordination”, even from some crazy, online “church”, requires a conscious decision. Well… I’ll grant that in the ancient Church they used to hold you down and ordain you against your will, as they did to Augustine of Hippo. But that doesn’t happen now. If it’s another putatively Christian denomination, one would be committing an act of schism (at least). If it’s a non-Christian denomination, we’re well on the way to apostasy.
These are serious things.
Catholics don’t, MUST NOT – take marriage lightly. We don’t – MUST NOT – take the role of the officiant at a wedding lightly.
Someone who submits to ordination in another denomination, even if it’s “only” to witness a non-Catholic wedding is putting himself in pretty dangerous territory. I wouldn’t want to answer for that in my judgment!
Moderation queue is on.