ASK FATHER: Membership in a parish, borders, registration

From a reader…


I am a parishoner at an ethnic church in the Archdiocese of X with national boundaries where there are Masses, sacraments, services, etc in my preferred language.

However, I live 20 minutes away in the Diocese of Y. Who is “my bishop”? The bishop who guides my pastor and visits our parish? Or is “my bishop” the Bishop of Y?

In an ideal world, when one moved into a new place, one’s local, friendly pastor would stop by the next day or so, doff his biretta at the lady of the house, bless the domicile, and sit down for a few minutes chat over tea about the ages and catechetical stages of all the children pattering about vying for Father’s attention. Father would then leave his calling card, a recent copy of the parish bulletin, some starter envelopes, and a friendly wave.

Alas, we are mostly far from living in such idyllic villages, and people come and go so frequently and anonymously that keeping track of folks is the stuff of statisticians and guestimators.

Every Catholic has a parish. Some have more than one.

Every place you have a domicile (where you intend to live with some degree of permanence, or have actually lived for five years) or quasi-domicile (where you intend to live for at least three months, or actually have lived for three months) is within the territory of a parish and a diocese.

You are a member of that parish, whether or not you fill out a registration form, whether you ever go there, whether you even know where it is.

Additionally, there are personal parishes for some groups of people, often defined by ethnicity or nationality. If your mother is Korean, your father is Wendish, and you’re a university student who lives in a dorm during the school year, and in a house on State and Main as your permanent resident, you are, de facto, a member of St. Andrew Kim Parish, St. Knut of the Wends Parish, St. Albertus Magnus University Parish, and Old St. Ludmilla’s, the territorial parish.

Ethnic or personal parishes also have boundaries. If there are none specifically described in the decree establishing the parish, then the boundaries of a personal parish are coterminous with the diocese. A bishop can’t “poach” Catholics living in the territory of another diocese. Your bishop is always the bishop of the diocese in which you are living. If you are homeless and vagrant, your bishop is the bishop of whatever diocese you happen to be in at any moment. The pastor of a vagrant is the pastor of wherever that vagrant happens to be at that moment. Everyone has a pastor.

With modern mobility, especially in North America, many Catholics choose to go to Mass in parishes where they are not actually members. Sometimes, they even register at these parishes, thinking that registering makes them members.


Alas and alack, registering in a parish has no canonical effect. It’s simply a convenient way for pastors to gain some understanding of who is actually coming to the parish.

Please make life easy for your pastor and register.

If you are a member of an ethnic group, or otherwise identify with a group for whom there is a personal parish in a nearby diocese, by all means go. Worship. Participate. Confess. Join the Altar Society. But let the pastor know that you are resident in the neighboring diocese.

If Father Jaromar of St. Knut of the Wends Parish notices that he has 70 parishioners coming each week from the neighboring diocese, he might want to inform the bishop of that diocese that the Wendish population of his diocese is not being served, and that he’d be happy to contact a friend of his, Father Vitzlav, who might be willing to come over from Stralsund to care for the burgeoning Wendish populace.

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  1. JamesM says:

    Father this seems to be different to what I thought was the case.

    I live in between two churches in a small city in the UK. One is a 10 minute walk from my front door. The other is about a 15min walk from my front door. I am within the parish boundaries of the nearer church.

    I attend Mass at the church which is slightly further away. This parish offers the Extraordinary Form every Sunday and also has the OF celebrated reverently. The nearer parish has distractions which make it harder for *me* to focus on God when at Mass.

    I was always under the impression that it was licit to consider the parish at which I attend, to be ‘my parish’. I can’t remember the reasoning behind it….is that not the case?

  2. JBS says:

    The trouble in the USA is that we refer to our parishes as “churches”, even in their civil titles. This leads the faithful to think of themselves as belonging to a church, rather than to a community living within defined boundaries. Perhaps we need some modern version of “beating the bounds” to reemphasize the point. Personal parishes just need clear norms defining membership, perhaps posted in the weekly bulletin.

  3. jfk03 says:

    The reality is that Catholic Church-goers vote with their feet and attend wherever they wish.

  4. St. Louis IX says:

    I am grateful for this question, and answer. It confirms what we are trying in our parish.
    We have a newly formed Una Voce Chapter that meets at our parish,that has the Traditional Latin Mass.
    We have between 100 – 150 souls every Sunday. Many that attend do not belong to the parish.
    We are trying to get people to join the parish, even if they already belong to another{they already support the parish in prayer, and finance{collections}
    This will give an acurate head count for those keeping records for mass count according to Church envelopes.
    We hope also in this day of shrinking diocese churches this might help us, amongst other benefits.
    Thank you Father Z for the public answer to the question

  5. Chiara says:

    Father – Please allow me to tell you of my experience. I attend Mass at the parish in which I was baptized almost 54 years ago, and to which my husband has belonged since he came to my hometown 36 years ago. We love our parish and consider our fellow parishioners family, and we have served in various capacities over the years, from my husband being an adult altar server and me being on parish council. Over the last couple of years, our pastor, whom we had greatly admired and supported, started acting in an antagonistic way toward us personally, including repeatedly telling us we do not live in the boundaries, although we only live 3 miles away. This came to a head last year on Mother’s Day. Father had given a great deal of bulletin space over to what he labeled a “prayer group” over Lent, allowing them to write of their take on the Church, which included quotes from Sr. Joan Chittester. Perhaps you see where this is leading. The Saturday after Easter, one of the ringleaders of the “prayer group” sent out a blanket e-mail to parishioners, inviting them to join them in picketing the Diocesan ordination in order to promote women’s clergy and married clergy. This e-mail included photos from picketing from previous years and Father was copied on the e-mail.

    Horrified, I privately sent an e-mail to Father asking him for an explanation of Church teaching and his views on the subject. He refused to reply. So I replied to the blanket e-mail, urging the members to reconsider using the holiest day of the new priests’ lives to promote their agenda. As I expected, this generated a lot of abuse. My husband asked Father if we could address parish council on the subject since the parish had promoted the group in the bulletin. Father gave us a number of hoops to jump through, including facing members of the group in person. When we did so, we approached him to let him know we had done what he asked.

    He reacted with verbal abuse and pretty much went into meltdown, screaming at us and accusing us of doing this to draw attention to ourselves. Then he told us to look for another parish.

    Because my husband commutes nearly two hours per day on the expressway and I put over 100 miles per week commuting as well, I explained our situation to a priest at a neighboring parish, naming no names. Father had been the secretary to the Bishop some years previously. He informed me that during his tenure as secretary, parish boundaries had been abolished in our Diocese and that we were welcome to register at any parish as long as we supported the parish and attended Mass on a regular basis. He told us he would come to us if we should ever need him, and that we were welcome at his parish, but that there was no need for us to give Offertory support if we were supporting our home parish.

    In gratitude to this priest, we do support his parish, although we remain at our beloved parish. We do not wish any vengeance on our pastor, and pray daily for his spiritual, physical and mental health and protection. We know everything goes in cycles and things will get better someday. But it is a great consolation to know the priest at parish B will support us if we need him.

    For my own information, what is your take on this situation?

  6. Supertradmum says:

    Father Z., may I add that most parishes ask for registration for all the sacraments for the laity-baptism, first confession and Communion, marriage and even anointing of the sick. Also, I know for sure that some parishes will not allow funeral Masses for non-parishioners, as some friends of mine have discovered when trying to arrange such.

    I usually join a parish and then go to the local Latin Mass if I can (where I am now, there are none) if that Mass is not parish based.

    I wish dioceses in America would do what Dublin did and make ONE church the official Latin Mass parish so that people can join, plan sacraments and know that the parish is stable and part of their daily life.

    Why this does not happen in every diocese here, I do not know….

  7. Gerard Plourde says:

    To further complicate matters, if the questioner belongs not just to a specific ethnic group, but to a different Rite (Ukranian, Melkite, etc.), he may indeed be subject to a different Bishop. These Rites have Archbishoprics (in some rites the are called Eparchies) with territorial boundaries that, in some cases encompass multiple Latin Rite ecclesiastical provinces. The Ukranian Archeparchy of Philadelphia, for example, is also the Metropolitan Archeparchy of the United States and encompasses the entire United States having in its care the Eparchies of Stamford (CT) , Chicago, and Parma (OH) in addition to its direct administration of the Territorial Archeparchy of Philadelphia. Thus a Ukranian Rite parish in New York City would be subject to the Ukranian Rite Archbishop of Philadelphia rather than Cardinal Dolan.

  8. Gerard Plourde says:

    Quick correction – the hypothetical New York City Ukranian Rite Parish would be directly subject to the Eparchy of Stamford, rather than The Archeparchy of Philadelphia. Stamford, in turn, is part of the Metropolitan Archeparchy of Philadelphia.

  9. St. Louis IX says:

    Yes; The good people I know, are truly concerned about death, and the Sacraments.
    A Home, A Parish to live and die…Cradle to the Grave
    I am thinking the way the Motu Proprio is set up that…MAYBE in the short term, we Catholics attached to the Rites of 1962 may suffer, But in the long term there may spring up Many small {and not so small}communities.
    As the Church shrinks; Which it will, and is, the Bishops as they close their churches, will have to supply for the needs for communities accross their lands.
    May our Children bear the fruit of our patient suffering, and the generosity of Pope Benedict XVI of Happy Memory.
    One day…A Catholic generation will have the comfort of a cradle to grave parish, without the risk of schism in the sspx.
    please God

  10. pelerin says:

    Having been brought up as an Anglican where it was perfectly acceptable to choose your church according to whether you liked the vicar or not, I find it sad that this now appears to be the case in the Catholic Church. Fifty years ago whether you attended your own Catholic parish or another one whilst travelling, the Mass was always the same. You knew what to expect and you always felt at home. You continued attending your own territorial parish not having to wonder if there was another where perhaps you would feel more ‘at home.’ If you moved house then you changed parishes accordingly and there was no difference.

    Fast forward fifty years and parish shopping (or is it hopping?) seems now to be the norm as there is so much diversity in the celebration of Mass. I myself changed parishes some years ago for various reasons and when I told a visiting Priest that I still felt guilty not supporting my territorial parish, he told me that I was not wrong to seek the ‘feel good’ factor which I had found in my new parish. Being a Priest in London he told me that it was quite normal in the capital for people to parish shop due to parking difficulties for those with cars and the Priests quite understood.

    In a way I feel blessed to belong to two parishes – one my territorial parish and the other where I attend Mass. And both now celebrate the EF!

  11. steve51b31 says:

    I have the reverse problem. As a deacon who works in multiple prison ministries, we have one unit that is within the approximate center between 4 parishes. We seemingly do not have strict or defined parish boundaries in the area, (especially because of the parish mobility reality). With the priest/pastors spread thin and some of them with multiple parish assignments, I can not find a priest to make even an occasional visit. My own pastor has told me that if I can’t find anyone, that he would try to squeeze in a visit, but I feel guilty asking.

  12. ChrisRawlings says:

    Ask away, Steve. That’s why he became a priest and not, say, an accountant or a podiatrist. He needs to make the time.

  13. Gregorius says:

    So let me see if I understand this correctly; we Latins can be canonically recognized as members of only one territorial parish at a time, BUT we can also be canonically considered members of up to multiple special communities within the same Roman Rite diocese PROVIDED we fit the criteria of why each special community was established?

    This is good stuff to know, because though my town is not really large, it still has a proportionately large number of territorial parishes within close proximity of each other.

  14. andia says:

    So if I want to be a member of a parish, I have to move within some unpublished boundaries, or belong to a specific enthic group? What happens if there are 4 or 5 different ones for the ethinic group to which I belong – am I forced to “belong” to one I refuse to walk into under any circumstances. Or in terms of geographic parishes….I have to “belong” to the church where the pastor screams at us in confession ( folks have moved to the extreme opposite end of the church to avoid over hearing) and where I have left confession with literal bruises?


    So disheartenting to read this

  15. JBS says:

    I think some here are over-thinking this. The law pertaining to parish membership is neither complicated nor oppressive.

  16. APX says:

    This only gets complicated if you want a funeral or wedding in a parish, and they insist the person be registered and attending mass regularly there ( which is determined by collection envelopes).

  17. Cody says:

    Why is it that dioceses don’t make it easily known on the websites where the parish boundaries are? If I go to the website diocese of X, I may see a map of parishes, or if I search by my address, I may be shown “nearby parishes” which may or may not be my territorial parish. If I try to find the boundaries, I may have to search for a while (if they’re online at all). At best, I’d have to look parish by parish.

    Contrast this to any public school district. You’ll easily find what elementary, middle, and high school your child will attend by checking the school district’s website. This is typically shown via a map, list of streets going to a school, or a search by exact address. Furthermore, schools are rigid on this due to various state laws, all going back to funding and overcrowding.

  18. When I first moved to my current city of residence, I called the chancery office to find out which was the parish in whose bounds I was living. My call was transferred to several people, none of whom even knew there was such a thing as geographical parish bounds, let alone where those bounds were. How can I be held responsible for knowing which parish I live in if not even the people at the diocese can tell me?

  19. Elizabeth D says:

    Andia… a parish is like a family in some ways; if you get screamed at and get bruises in your family, it is still your family. In cases of serious abuse sometimes you should remove yourself from their presence but it is still your family. You can attend a parish that isn’t the one you formally belong to. But if you want to get married at your preferred parish, there is supposed to be a permission from your canonical pastor and I believe it gets recorded in the register of the canonical parish.

  20. andia says:

    Elizabeth_D. Under no circumstances would I ever ask permission to get married from anyone but my intended.

    What this posting is telling me – is that I have no rights under canon law, and that the church is not for me…but for those with the power to make the rules. OK. understood.

  21. Elizabeth D says:

    You misunderstand, Catholic teaching is that you have a RIGHT to marry. The permission I mention has to do with getting married at a parish other than one you canonically belong to. It happens all the time!

  22. Supertradmum says:

    Elizabeth D, what you say is true ONLY is the couple gets permission from both priests-the one who is doing the ceremony and their parish priest. I have helped several couples with this.

    One cannot shop for a lovely church in which to get married without that permission. And, it is just polite to inform your pastor that you are taking pre-Cana in another church. These things are recorded as well.

  23. Elizabeth D says:

    I suggest talking to a local priest or wise Catholic in person who can explain in a more complete way because having a more complete understanding would allay your anxiety. In regards to marriage, I did not even know that might be your actual concern; when you wish to get married you approach your parish, or even whatever parish you are currently attending. They work with you about that, I think they are usually the ones who connect with another parish if there is another parish involved. I am not married myself, that is not my vocation.

  24. acardnal says:

    I have registered at two parishes within my diocese: the canonical one within whose geographical boundaries I live in, and the one I attend on Sundays because they celebrate the TLM/EF Mass.

  25. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    “Alas and alack, registering in a parish has no canonical effect. It’s simply a convenient way for pastors to gain some understanding of who is actually coming to the parish.”

    I think that is putting it too strongly, but I have not time to purse the matter now. Let’s just say, the law is trying to keep up with reasonable, changing realities.

    Et forma canonica delenda est. [Delenda.]

  26. gramma10 says:

    I have been in the diocese of Arlington since 1967.
    Over that time I have been a member of 7 different parishes.
    Once I joined two. I know several other people who have been members of two or three at once.
    I now go to daily mass one place about 20-25 min away, and am a member. Then I live 2 miles down the road from where I go on the weekend.
    We are blessed here…I have 12+ parishes witthin about 30 min of my home.
    Most are orthodox but hmmm about 4 are not. The older pastors are not very into the new evangelization.
    But we have those up and coming seminarians! Yes!
    I have two friends who each have two son priests! Plus a couple other with one son priest!
    Not bad, huh???

  27. TKS says:

    And then there are those of us who are ‘snowbirds.’ One parish in the north and one down south. I’ve often wondered what I’m supposed to do other than supporting which ever parish I’m near at the time.

  28. Stephen Matthew says:

    Hypothetically, it would seem that a bishop could make all of his parishes personal rather than territorial and perhaps that is the direction things will go with ever greater mobility and “church shopping.””

    Can a parish have both territorial and personal identity? Could a parish be both the parish of a particular neighborhood and the personal parish for all the Poles in a diocese? Or is it strictly an either/or?

  29. Martin_B says:

    Totally different in Germany.

    Finding one’s parish in Germany is one easiest things to do.

    If, for example, you were to be the new (catholic) US Ambassador in Germany and thus your residence would be “14195 Berlin, Finkenstraße 21” and you would like to know to which regional parish you belong.
    so you simply look up “Pfarreiensuche” (parisch search) on the internet.
    You would be directed over to a site run by the diocese of mainz, that works for all german dioceses.
    You enter your address and would promptly be directed to your parish:
    Kath. Pfarramt Maria Rosenkranzkönigin
    Deitmerstr. 3-4 – 12163 Berlin
    complete with adress, phone, email and homepage.

  30. JBS says:

    A parish is a community of the faithful under the pastoral care of a priest. The Parish Priest (parochus) is responsible for teaching, sanctifying and leading the members of the parish, and for evangelizing the unbaptized and seeking unification with separated Christians. In order for the Parish Priest to do his job, he needs to know who the members of his parish are, and in what neighborhoods he needs to pursue evangelization and ecumenism. It’s as simple as that.

  31. Skeinster says:

    Our EF parish has two sets of files, I think- attendees living in the diocese and attendees outside the diocese. I suppose my question is -would an EF parish, with only the EF and all sacraments in the same, be considered a personal parish?

  32. bourgja says:

    When I moved into my current archdiocese, I contacted their office to request information about parish boundaries. They told me that they do not give that information out to anyone except parish priests. It was quite odd to say the least!

  33. JBS says:


    Most chanceries run on tight budgets, and cannot afford to have someone research the archives to locate the decrees erecting each parish with their boundaries every time someone moves into the diocese.

  34. JBS says:


    A bishop alone can erect, suppress or alter a parish, and the territory of a territorial parish–or category of persons included in a personal parish–will be spelled out in the decree erecting, suppressing or altering the parish.

  35. Seamus says:

    I understand that Eastern Rite Catholics are subjects, not of the territorial Latin Rite bishop, but of their Eastern Rite bishop or eparch, and then of whatever parish of their particular rite that may have been established for them. I’d be interested to know what the situation is for members of Latin Rite personal ordinariates, such as the Military Archdiocese and the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Are they subjects of two ordinaries: their territorial bishop as well as their personal bishop/ordinary (and then of two parishes: their territorial parish as well as their personal parish)?

  36. JBS says:


    Visit the “Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA” website, then click “Who Are We”, then “The Christian Faithful”, which describes the precise canonical status of the archdiocese.

  37. JesusFreak84 says:

    I like to make things complicated: Canonically Latin Rite, but I’m registered at and attend a Ukrainian Catholic parish. The latter will NOT bury you if you’re not registered, but I’ve always wondered if they’d be permitted to bury me anyway. I think Cardinal George would’ve said, “Sure, go for it,” but I’m not so sure about Archbishop Cupich =-\

  38. JBS says:

    Jesus Freak,

    This sounds more like trying to make things complicated for other people. How does deliberately creating complications for others to unravel contribute to the salvation of souls?

  39. Paul M. says:

    In some dioceses, there is particular law that handles parochial registration, noting that a person is a member of a parish based on both the criterion in the universal law (domicile and quasi-domicile) as well as by registration. I’m thinking specifically of the Diocese of Austin, when a few years ago Bishop Aymond enacted a law specifically to allow for membership by registration but emphasizing that registration is not required for those with a domicile or quasi-domicile in the parish.

  40. APX says:


    Someone could take the time to label a map and its parish boundaries and hang it on a wall in the chancery somewhere. This isn’t rocket science. Go to any RCMP detachment in Canada, there will be a map of the surrounding area carefully labelled with each detachment’s call boundary for which detachment responds to which calls in what grid/range area.

  41. JaneC says:

    I’m not sure why some dioceses seem to have such trouble giving out information about the territories of their parishes. My husband is employed by a cathedral parish, and in their office they have a large map of the city with all the parish boundaries outlined and labeled posted on the wall.

  42. frival says:

    My pastor takes great joy in pointing out that, due to the oddities of parish boundaries, those who reside in the Bishop’s Residence are technically members not of the Cathedral parish but his parish. It seems his parish’s boundaries end just after the Bishop’s Residence and there the Cathedral parish’s boundary begins – only a few streets down from the Cathedral itself. It makes me wonder if the same folks who gerrymander voting districts didn’t once help to set up parish boundary maps.

  43. Uxixu says:

    I am registered at my home parish and I’m registered with FSSP.LA. I suspect the latter is a ‘non-territorial’ parish but I might have to ask Fr. Fryar about the precise canonical status (which is even more muddled because we don’t have our permanent location yet, prayers for God’s providence to that end still ongoing) and are guests at a couple different territorial parishes.

  44. Matt Robare says:

    Sadly, in America, where even those who don’t worship their own egos still frequently worship cars, one’s territorial parish isn’t always the one it’s possible to get to if one doesn’t own a vehicle.

  45. JBS says:


    Parish Priests today, at least in the USA, do not use parish boundaries in the same way that police agencies use policing wards. Perhaps this should change, but the reality now is that the exact boundaries are of little pastoral importance. What is important is for the Parish Priest to commit himself to the community living around his parish church, and for the faithful there to live as a true community, and not just as individuals associated with a particular church or preferred priest.

  46. bookworm says:

    I was once told, by a very orthodox priest with considerable training in canon law, that there is nothing in Church law that prevents people from registering in or “belonging to” more than one parish at the same time. A person can register in one parish because of family/sacramental connections (they were baptized, married, etc. there) and also register in another parish because that’s where their children attend school. They might even register in a third parish if, for example, they wanted to attend the TLM.

  47. ies0716 says:

    Based on the comments it appears that there are still some misunderstandings. I know Fr. Z has posted on this point in the past, but I want to reiterate it here: you are NOT bound to attend your canonical parish for Mass or to receive the sacraments there. It is completely licit canonically to be a canonical member of St. Bagodonuts but be registered at, attend mass at, receive all sacraments at, and donate to St. Bagomuffins instead. No permission from the pastor at St. Bagodonuts is required.

  48. andia says:

    I contacted my diocese and they refused to tell me anything about parish boundaries. They are trying to tell me that the 1983 revisions “does not require that a Catholic attend the parish within whose boundaries he resides. A Catholic is free to attend any Catholic parish, regardless of his residency.’

  49. Paul M. says:

    ies0716 said: It is completely licit canonically to be a canonical member of St. Bagodonuts but . . . receive all sacraments at . . . St. Bagomuffins instead. No permission from the pastor at St. Bagodonuts is required.

    For marriages, not exactly. The permission of the “the proper ordinary or proper pastor” is required for the licit celebration of a marriage when it is to take place at a location outside of any parish where the parties have a domicile, quasi-domicile, or month-long residence. See Canon 1115. Granted, this is a requirement for liceity/lawfulness only; the marriage contracted without this permission would still be valid.

  50. Latin Mass Type says:

    My parish boundaries are fairly obvious due to the terrain. And it’s fairly rural.

    Our priest, who delights in traditional practices (as well at the Extraordinary Form), was talking about “beating the bounds” this spring and praying at all four corners.

    I’ll have to remind him!

  51. Allan S. says:

    I have been told that, in fact, a Parish Priest (Pastor) has responsibility for all baptized souls residing within his territory, and his Diocesan Bishop is the Shepherd likewise responsible for all baptized Christians within the Diocese. So…even Protestants and other members of “ecclesiastical communities” in imperfect communion are, technically, bound by Canon Law (i.e. are entitled to certain, applicable rights and responsibilities).

    This would be a good reason for Father to accept ‘ecumenical’ invitations to speak at other (non-Catholic) churches: “Ahem…as your Pastor, I am pleased to address you today to advise you on the steps you are required to take to come into full communion with the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Now, if you will please complete the following forms….”

  52. bourgja says:

    JBS, they had the information on the parish boundaries at hand, but simply wouldn’t release it to a lay person. They told me to ask a priest to request the information. In some dioceses, there is even a map online that anyone can consult, so I don’t understand why this one is so secretive.

  53. ChesterFrank says:

    I am still confused. If I go to my diocese website and look up all of the parishes from that diocese that are in the county that I reside in, and it lists 10 parishes for my county; can any or all of those 10 be considered my parish; or am I assigned to one specific parish?

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  55. ies0716 says:

    Paul M. – you are correct, and I was mistaken.

    For Fr. Z. – how does this play out in reality, since most people have no idea this is a rule? Would someone need to go to confession if they realized that they got married at a non-geographic parish without their geographic pastor’s consent? Do most parishes/diocese give blanket dispensations for this rule since most people probably aren’t aware of it?

  56. pelerin says:

    ies0716 – I am not sure how a Catholic could get married in a ‘non geographic ‘ parish without the consent of their geographic parish.

    When I first started attending Mass regularly I always went to the church where I had first nervously knocked on the door of the presbytery to enquire about the Catholic faith. I had no idea about parish boundaries and did not know that I actually resided in another parish. However later after meeting my future husband and preparing for marriage, the Priest told me he had to write to the Parish Priest (pastor) of my territorial parish to ascertain that I had not been married before in his church – even though we had never even met!

    Providence works in strange ways as I now attend Mass in the church which was once my parish church although I did not know it at the time!

  57. Elizabeth D says:

    Allen S said: “So…even Protestants and other members of “ecclesiastical communities” in imperfect communion are, technically, bound by Canon Law”

    Yes the bishop is shepherd in some way of all the Christian souls in his diocese, but it doesn’t follow from that that non Catholics are bound by Canon Law. Only Catholics are under Catholic Canon Law. Eastern Rite Catholics under the Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches.

  58. ies0716 says:

    pelerin – maybe I’m the only ignorant one but I would assume it happens all the time. My wife and I (due to chance more than anything else) did end up getting married at what was then our geographic parish, but we have a lot of friends who were married in churches that neither of them lived anywhere near at the time. Maybe I’ll ask around and see if they had to get some kind of permission. I would assume that priests know about this even if couples don’t so they ensure that the necessary procedures are followed before they marry anyone.

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