Vatican Changes Policy on Wedding Rites

Lay catholics will be allowed to perform them, but they'll need special permission
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 20, 2020 8:24 AM CDT
Vatican Lets Lay Catholics Perform Weddings
Pope Francis speaks during the Angelus prayer from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, July 5, 2020.   (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

The Vatican said on Monday that in exceptional circumstances, lay Catholics can be allowed to perform marriage rites, per the AP. In a document issued by the Holy See office for clergy, the Vatican said that could only happen if there are no priests or deacons available, the nation’s bishops sign off on the exception, and the Holy See OKs it, too. The same document stresses that lay faithful can preach at liturgy services, but not give homilies. The Vatican document said that the local bishop, using his “prudent judgment,” may entrust to lay faithful in “exceptional circumstances” such duties including celebrating funeral rites, administering baptism, assisting at marriages, and preaching in a church.

It noted that “where there is a lack of priests and deacons, the diocesan bishop can delegate lay persons to assist at marriages" after the nation's bishops conference signs off on the decision and the Vatican gives its permission, too. “Under no circumstances, however, may lay people give the homily during the celebration of the Eucharist,” said the Congregation for the Clergy.

(Read more Catholic Church stories.)

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