ASK FATHER: Can Catholics still get married with the Traditional Latin rite of Matrimony?

From a reader…


Does Traditions custodes in any way change the position of the traditional rite of marriage as related to the requirement to observe canonical form? Can a Catholic still marry validly and licitly in the older rite? Would permission from the local ordinary be required?

Your question opens onto to several fronts.  Let’s take care of the immediate question first.

The Apostolic Letter Traditionis custodes, makes no mention of either the Sacrament of Marriage or the ritual involved in the contracting of marriage for Latin Catholics.

TC states – as if it were a fact – that the current liturgical books are “the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite”. That statement is, like any statement, obviously open to proof to the contrary.  Gratis asseritur, gratis negatur.

In fact, several months later, the very same Francis issued an Apostolic Constitution (which has greater canonical weight than a mere Apostolic Letter), Praedicate Evangelium, in which he acknowledged and legislated for two forms of the Roman Rite.


Being faithful sons of the Holy Church we must more recent and weightier rulings as those in force now.  PE does not mention any liturgical books other than the Roman Missal of 1962.

Several months later, the erstwhile Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments answered several dubia that had been proposed… apparently.  Those who … apparently…  asked those eleven questions, and only they, are bound by the responses given, in which the Prefect mandates that the Rites for the Sacraments using the 1952 Rituale, may only be performed in personal parishes dedicated to the Extraordinary Form.

Thus, unless your diocese submitted those eleven questions – which purportedly gave rise to the responses – there is nothing in the universal law that would prohibit the celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage using the classic ritual.  Such a marriage, presuming everything else is in order, would be valid and licit.  Unless there is particular law in the diocese, no specific permission is needed.

There is without question reasonable doubt in the air in these days about this and other matters concerning the Traditional Latin Mass, the Sacraments, and other items from the ritual.  The constant changing, updating, and tweaking of the Code of Canon Law and the shifting of terminology, competency, and even authority has lent to the Church a constant state of inconstancy.

It is helpful to review Canon 14, one of the canons by which all the canons in the Code and all legislation – are to be interpreted.

“Laws, even invalidating and incapacitating ones, do not oblige when there is a doubt of the law…”

A doubt of the law arises when serious, reasonable men find themselves confused, not merely when some uninformed or uneducated person doesn’t understand the law.

We right now in a situation where much doubt has been sown. Perhaps intentionally?  It might not be a waste of time to review Francis’ Four Postulates from his programmatic encyclical Evangelii gaudium.   Review those “tools”, as it were, of control and change through disruption ad conflict, and then take a look around.

Holy Mother Church doesn’t want us in a state of constant agitation or uncertainty for long periods of time.  Hence, enshrined in her law are principles of interpretation which allow us to navigate the treacherous waters we are in and also – this is important – puts us at ease about the validity of many acts and situations.  We don’t have a visible Church with laws so that we can be constantly worried about what’s going on.  If that is the state of affairs, then something isn’t right.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    In any case, as long as the priest has his delegation, there is not the tiniest whiff of a validity question.

  2. Not says:

    Thank you Father Z for the line… state of constant agitation. This is exactly what happens to me if I try to attend Novus Ordo. Last one was a baptism where the Priest spoke of climate change and the undocumented. The holding up of hands during the Our Father and the literal kiss of peace. God Help us all.

  3. Allison says:

    Sadly, the Latin Mass wedding I was hired to photograph earlier this month was denied by the diocese…just days beforehand. I thought, with the late notice that it would have been merciful to make an exception for this couple rather than upend their plans and wishes just days before their wedding. Wish this article had been written just a few weeks earlier….

  4. Brian64 says:

         It certainly is possible – I am living proof. Now, whether the pope approves or is happy about it is another question.
         My wife and I have been civilly married for 15 years. Two weeks after Easter she finished her preparation, made her First Confession (I made my first in 37+ years), received First Communion, and we were married using the Latin Rite. She then was confirmed in the Latin Rite (see my short comment on Father’s entry of May 19th).
         While our local priest deserves much credit and love for his role, I wouldn’t have been in the position to accept such wonderful gifts (as a lapsed Catholic) without the words of encouragement from Father Z. I will never be able to thank all those who made this possible (including friends who prayed for us for years)!

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