ASK FATHER: Pastor won’t allow TLM wedding in “his church”

From a reader…


We were in a situation where
(a) my fiancee and I had already booked a time slot in a Church for the Rite of Marriage and Nuptial Mass
(b) After this, we requested from the parish priest to have Rite of Marriage and Nuptial Mass done in the extraordinary form. We informed the parish priest that we had a priest (qualified) who was able and willing to officiate.
(c) Parish priest refused, saying it was ‘his church’ and that he wouldn’t have that happening in ‘his church’.

Is this contrary to Summorum Pontificum and/or Universae ecclesiae?

With a Mass, it seems more straightforward: stable group + qualified priest + no schismatic allegiances = request must be granted

But with the other sacraments such as marriage is it that straightforward?

First, you might have checked about this before you “booked”.

The legislative document for the whole Church, including your parish, called Summorum Pontificum says:

Art. 5 – § 3 For faithful and priests who request it, the pastor should also allow celebrations in this extraordinary form for special circumstances such as marriages, funerals or occasional celebrations, e.g. pilgrimages.

Of course pastors have power and you don’t.  You can go to the bishop about this, as is your right.  The same document says:

Art. 7 – If a group of lay faithful, as mentioned in art. 5 § 1, has not obtained satisfaction to their requests from the pastor, they should inform the diocesan bishop. The bishop is strongly requested to satisfy their wishes. If he cannot arrange for such celebration to take place, the matter should be referred to the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”.

Of course, if the bishop is not inclined to be helpful, there’s not much you can do because they have power and you don’t.  Rather than be pastors, shepherds, fathers to you, they lord it over you, giving you stones instead of bread.

So, assess your situation and the people involved.

Your best approach may be to persuade, diplomatically.

And pray.

And get ready to be disappointed.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. JEF5570 says:

    A good old fashioned bribe goes along ways with certain difficult clerics too ;).

  2. The Egyptian says:

    Now if on the other hand if they had requested clowns and liturgical dancers, maybe a rollerskating priest or a rock band????

  3. Eoin OBolguidhir says:

    I think it was Father once shared a memory of his going on behalf of a group of indult Catholics at loggerheads with a bishop with an untoward disposition to the Extraördinary form of the Mass. He appealed His Excellency with words to the effect of, “Can’t you in your fatherly solicitude please help these people who love God and his Church so much?” And that did it. Meet with him and let him know that your love of the Vetus Ordo is part of your love of God and beauty, and not about being reactionary or exclusionary, which are probably those things with which he fears he will be associated. Try to persuade him with you Love and Humility before trying to escalate. Perhaps the Spirit will help him see your good motives move his heart of stone.

    Failing that, have the Novus Ordo in Latin and ad orientam or in the Benedictine fashion. This cannot ever be forbidden, and still allows for the use of all the Ordinaria and Properia, and most won’t notice much a of a difference between that usage and the Divine Liturgy of Paul V.

    And just a suggestion from another Sinner, and one more in need of Grace than any other: if you don’t get what you want, take it as an exercise in the Virtues of Obedience and Humility, and offer your sadness up for the Suffering Souls in Purgatory.

  4. APX says:

    Nothing quite like the abuse of power some pastors. I would follow up with an email specifically asking why the pastor objects and then go to the bishop once you have his reason in writing.

    One could also attempt to change the church location, a particular pain if invitations have gone out, and ask a more sympathetic priest if you could use their church.

    We used to have Solemn Nuptial Masses with the help of two Diocesan priests, but the pastor of the parish the Fssp shares with asked the bishop to prohibit them from coming to the parish and celebrating solemn Masses with us.

  5. Pius Admirabilis says:


    That’s a sweet story you have there, but it unfortunately does not reflect the Church’s reality today. I am from a parish where the pastor is so much opposed to the Ancient Roman Rite that he said: If my bishop ever forces me to have a TLM celebrated in one of my churches, I will resign. Right now, there is some discussion going on. The bishop has formally issued a document that legally forces the pastor to install a regular TLM in one of his churches, but he still refuses to comply.
    That’s why I doubt that telling the pastor it’s about beauty and love for the Church, whill change anything. The faithful in my parish who want the TLM also spoke to my pastor on several occasions, and he was not willing to listen to them.

    The Ancient Roman Rite is also more than just the “Novus Ordo in Latin”. We absolutely mustn’t perpetuate this misunderstanding. It is not the same. The theological, liturgical, and moral issues of the NO are present whether it’s celebrated in Latin, English, or Swahili. A NO Mass in Latin will never make up for a TLM, since it is not the TLM. I guess the couple also doesn’t want the TLM because it’s in Latin, but because it’s the TLM.

    I would also add that finding a priest who would be willing to actually celebrate a NO Mass in Latin, versus ad Orientem, and with the complete proprium and ordinarium in Latin (probably also chanted by a skilled schola) is *much* harder to find than a priest willing to celebrate the TLM. And if the pastor does not want any TLM in his church, he probably also doesn’t want a “quasi-TLM” (Latin NO).

    My suggestion to the couple would be: Look for another church, maybe an FSSP parish, or somewhere where the TLM is celebrated on a regular basis. Maybe you can cancel the “booking”. And if not, or if you are unsuccessful on your search for a TLM location, you will have to accept a normal NO Mass as your wedding Mass. Going to the bishop about it, or confronting the pastor, only makes bad blood and it wouldn’t help making your wedding the unforgettable happy moment it’s supposed to be. Either way, I wish you God’s abundant grace.

  6. Akita says:

    This is stark evidence of a functional schism. There is really no sense in trying to negotiate with these people who seemingly practice another religion. The suggestion to bribe the priest is abhorrent.

    We Catholics have the FSSP, SSPX and other Traditional options. Seek them out. Have an out of town wedding if need be. Or move.

    Quit acting effeminate and helpless.

  7. Gab says:

    “Parish priest refused, saying it was ‘his church’ and that he wouldn’t have that happening in ‘his church’.”

    What? Like the Extraordinary Form is something to be detested?

    Dear, oh dear.

  8. Jack007 says:

    “The suggestion to bribe the priest is abhorrent. ”
    I think the word “bribe” might be a little harsh.
    Many times over the years I found it helpful to have cash in hand suggesting a generous DONATION.
    That said, as has been formerly stated, I’m surprised no one checked with the pastor first. At any rate, in my case, I’d say bye and move the wedding to a different venue. It is a one time major event, after all. Perhaps if the pastor knew this, and you APOLOGIZED for not giving him the courtesy of asking first, he might be moved to make an exception?

  9. Ultrarunner says:

    Just book a flight for the honeymoon and buy an extra round trip ticket for the Latin Rite priest. Then, and this is key, just spontaneously ask him to perform the ceremony when the plane levels out. I’ve seen this work before.

  10. mattg says:

    Demand a refund. Find another suitable place. I doubt that the one you have booked retains much of the splendor commensurate with the EF which your desire. Explicitly remind the pastor who buys his bread–for his type are too stupid to understand subtle messages.

  11. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:


  12. I won’t be taking any chances when it comes time for my funeral. I live in the FL Keys and intend to have my funeral Mass at an FSSP parish 300 miles away (Sarasota).

  13. DavidR says:


    I stopped putting anything in the plate years ago, when I realized the pastor is an informal heretic.

  14. JustaSinner says:

    My former parish priest would not let a priest friend attend(?) at the baptism of my daughter. Not in ‘his church’! Funny, I thought it was Christ’s Church. We had her baptised at a Bascilica instead. Now THAT is the stone rejected by the builder becoming a cornerstone.

  15. chantgirl says:

    When I was married, I had no idea there even was an Extraordinary Form nuptial Mass. If I could go back in time, I would not have had a NO wedding.

    If appeals of pastoral concerns to the priest are rebuffed, consider moving the venue if possible. This is a once in a lifetime event!

  16. AutoLos says:

    I’m having the same problem only I want an extraordinary form baptism. I have a priest who’s willing to do it by apparently the Mass is the ONLY Extraordinary Form liturgy “allowed” in the diocese…

    [Then the person who says that has got it wrong. Of course Baptism can be conferred with the traditional rite. SP says: Art. 9 § 1 The pastor, having attentively examined all aspects, may also grant permission to use the earlier ritual for the administration of the Sacraments of Baptism, Marriage, Penance, and the Anointing of the Sick, if the good of souls would seem to require it.]

  17. AutoLos says:

    I agree with you, Father. Unfortunately it was the bishop himself who made this declaration and the pastor isn’t willing to go against the directive. Prepare to be disappointed is right.

  18. AutoLos: My heart goes out to you. I wish that there were something that I could do. I’d do the Mass myself if I could… if I were permitted to.

    Remember not to argue or to be bitter with the pastor or the bishop. But it might not hurt to tell them how unspeakably sad their actions have made you when what you requested is such a small thing.

  19. Lurker 59 says:

    It is very telling that we live in an age where the only recourse to such actions is an emotional appeal as an appeal based on reason (whether towards law or towards theology) has zero chance of any sort of traction.

    This question has been bugging me all day, and finally, two points bubbled to the surface.

    First, I wonder if this is the home parish of either the bride or the groom. The language of the question seems to suggest not. If not, then a non-parishioner, even gently, trying to tell a priest what to do in “his” parish, isn’t that great of an idea.

    Secondly, and that said, find a different venue. There are a half a million stressful things involving a wedding that you don’t need to deal with this argument. You have a priest who will say EF, how about his parish? This isn’t the time to have this fight. You are right, but will not win and will only end up mad.

  20. Lurker 59 says: It is very telling that we live in an age where the only recourse to such actions is an emotional appeal as an appeal based on reason (whether towards law or towards theology) has zero chance of any sort of traction.

    It’s very simple. It’s because charity has grown cold even in the Church. Many of us have hirelings instead of shepherds.

  21. KateD says:

    What about….

    A destination wedding to a Latin friendly parish or diocese? It could be as simple as a drive and perhaps an overnight stay. Maybe to an Abby or convent set up to host retreats or accomodate guests. I’ve known people who did the whole thing in a foreign country. There are these churches in small towns that remain empty and abandoned except on every other Sunday. You could rent out one of these near by villas that does the whole agri-tourism/cooking class type deal and then they could cater the reception. It make take a little extra attention for special guests if flights are required. But a destination wedding needn’t be a huge hassle nor break the bank. It just may require a little flexibility regarding the size and scope.

    Take those lemons tossed your way and make them into limoncello wedding favors ;)

  22. hwriggles4 says:

    First I would think a pastor would be delighted that two practicing Catholics were getting married. If I was a priest, I think I would be disappointed with the number of couples coming to marriage with issues such as : why do we have to wait 8 months? Why do we need to attend prep? Why do I need to file for an annulment? Our mother is making us do this, etc. (Yes, these comments are real).

    Most good priests know that Catholic marriages have decreased substantially in the last 20 years.

    Second, this priest may have been told by his bishop that if he does a TLM, he will end up either without an assignment, or in an undesirable outpost of the diocese. I would think the best he could do was do the Novus Ordo reverently. Many priests can.

    Third, it may be possible to change the venue to the FSSP parish (or a neighboring diocese within a three hour drive), and still use the reception hall that was booked and nonrefundable deposits put down. It will take some planning, but it might work.

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