Marriage Documentation:


A Statement of the Policy Concerning Marriage In the Diocese of Honolulu.

"Married Christians, in virtue of the sacrament of matrimony, signify and share in the mystery of that unity and fruitful love which exists between Christ and His Church; they help each other to obtain holiness s in their married life and in the rearing and education of their children; and they have their own special gift among the people of God." (Rite of Marriage, Instruction, nn.1,7)

Marriage Preparation

The sacred nature of a Church wedding demands that the couple have an understanding and acceptance of the spiritual aspects of their mutual commitment. In addition, a marriage in a Catholic Church presumes that at least one of the parties to the marriage intends to practice the Catholic faith. Primary responsibility for helping the couple to such understanding belongs to the officiating priest.

"Since the marriages of two baptized persons are sacraments, they are not merely private or familial celebrations but ecciesial events. The spouses declare their consent 'before God and the Church' and live out that commitment in and with the support of the ecciesial community. It is, therefore, fitting that this celebration should take place in a church. It is here that the community is 'gathered together by the preaching of the Gospel of Christ, and the mystery of the Lord's supper is celebrated, 'so that the whole fellowship is joined together by the flesh and blood of the Lord's body." (Beal,. John P., Coriden, James a., Green, Thomas J., ed., New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, New york, Pauiist Press, 2000.)

Procedures Regarding Marriage:

1. Place of Marriage

  • Marriages ordinarily are celebrated in a parish church (c.1115).
    • a. Marriage of Two Catholics
      • i. In the Diocese, under no circumstances is the marriage of two Catholics permitted out-of-doors, in catering establishments, country clubs, restaurants, hotels, or marine vessels of any kind.
      • ii. Permission may be sought for marriage in the home only when one of the members of the wedding party or a close relative is an invalid or otherwise confined to the home.
      • iii. Permission may be sought for marriage in an approved Catholic chapel if one of the parties has a close affiliation with the institution where the chapel is located.
    • b. Marriage of a Catholic to a Baptized Non-Catholic
      • Permission may be granted by the Chancellor for the marriage to take place in a non-Catholic church if sufficient reason exists. All other situations are covered by the same rules as for marriage of two Catholics.
    • c. Non-Christian-Catholic Marriages
      • i. Marriages ordinarily should take place in: the parish church of the Catholic or in another sacred place.
      • ii. If difficulties arise because the persons are reluctant to have the ceremony in a Catholic Church, the priest or deacon may seek - permission from the -Chancellor of the -Diocese to celebrate the marriage in another appropriate place after reviewing the reasons offered by the couple and investigating the place suggested for the wedding. If possible, the ceremony should be celebrated in a chapel-like arrangement or in a room apart from the place where the meal or reception will take place.

2. Other Considerations for a Mixed Marriage

  • a. Marriages Witnessed by a Priest or Deacon
    • i. Permission should be sought from the vicar of the appropriate vicariate or the Chancellor.
    • ii. The parish responsible for preparing documentation that the marriage is properly recorded is that in which the marriage would ordinarily take place, e.g., the parish of the Catholic.
    • iii. The usual pre-matrimonial investigation must be completed to ensure the adequate preparation, instruction and freedom of the couple.
    • iv. The priest or deacon must be the sole witness to the marriage.
    • v. In the case where the marriage would take place in the Catholic Church, a non-Catholic minister may be present and may offer prayers and ask a blessing on the couple.
    • vi. In view of this restriction of participation by the non-Catholic minister, this must be discussed with him/her and be agreeable to him/her and his/her ecclesiastical superiors, if necessary.
    • vii. The priest or deacon witnessing the marriage requires canonical delegation from the territorial parish in which the celebration of the marriage takes place, if the place is outside his own parish.
    • viii. Notation of the marriage must be made in the register of the territorial parish within which the marriage actually takes place and the usual documentation is to retained in the files of that parish.
    • ix. It is the obligation of the priest/deacon witness to ensure that the usual notation is made in the proper baptismal register.
  • b. Marriages witnessed by a non-Catholic Minister with Dispensation from Canonical Form.
    • i. The parish priest or deacon of the Catholic party is to prepare the couple and to procure the proper documentation.
    • ii. Direct request to the Chancellor of the Catholic party. Reasons for the request should be stated in a letter to the Chancellor.
    • iii. There can be only one ceremony. The priest or deacon may be present to offer a prayer and blessing.
    • iv. All records of the marriage are to be placed in the parish files of the territorial parish in which the marriage took place. The priest arranging the marriage is responsible for making sure this is done and for notifying the Church where the Catholic was baptized.
    • v. Ordinarily, a non-Catholic minister may not witness a marriage in a Catholic Church. Should a special case arise, please consult the Vicar General.
    • vi. Similarly, outside of special cases, a Catholic priest may not witness a marriage in a non-Catholic church, a non-sacred place.

3. Marriage of Catechumens

  • When a Catholic marries a catechumen, a dispensation for disparity of worship is necessary for validity. The marriages of catechumens whether with other catechumens or with baptized Christians or even non-Christians, should be celebrated at a Liturgy of the Word and never at a Liturgy of the Eucharist.

4. Nuptial Masses

  • a. A Nuptial Mass is subject to the usual liturgical regulations. Holy Communion may not be distributed to a non-Catholic participant with the exception of Orthodox Christians, and then only with the permission of their own pastor.
  • b. In a marriage between a Catholic and a non-Baptized person, a Nuptial Mass may not be celebrated.
  • c. A Nuptial Mass on Saturday would satisfy the Sunday obligation provided that the celebration begins after 4 p.m. and the readings for that Sunday are used.
  • d. A Nuptial Mass is not permitted on Sundays of Advent, Lent, and after the Easter season, on solemnities, on All Souls Day, on Ash Wednesday, and during Holy Week.

5. Dispensations and Permissions

  • a. In requesting marriage dispensations and permissions, it is useful to keep in mind that the Catholic party must reside in the Diocese, otherwise the dispensations or permissions are granted by the Ordinary in whose diocese the Catholic party resides.
  • b. Requests for marriage dispensations or permissions can be sought from the priest or deacon preparing the couple.
    • i. There must always be sufficient reason for granting a dispensation or permission and must include the spiritual welfare of the parties.
    • ii. Dispensation from canonical form should be requested only for a serious pastoral concern when there are grave difficulties in observing the Catholic form and the spiritual welfare of the parties is involved.

6. Ecumenical Considerations

  • a. Members of other churches, as well as non-Christians. may be witnesses in the celebration of marriage in the Catholic Church.
  • b. A Catholic may be best man or maid of honor or attendant at a marriage properly celebrated among non-Catholics.

7. Inter-Ritual Marriages

  • a. Eastern Rite and Latin Rite Catholics

The marriage may take place in either the rite of the man or woman, provided that; at least one party-to the marriage is a member of the Latin Rite (c.1109). The presider must be a priest or bishop.

  • b. Latin Rite Catholic and Orthodox

Ordinarily marriage takes place in the Latin Rite by a priest or bishop. The Vicar General may grant a dispensation from canonical form so that the marriage may take place in an Orthodox Church by an Orthodox Priest.

  • c. Eastern Rite Catholics and Non-Catholics

The Eastern Rite priest must witness the marriage.

8. Civil Law Requirements

  • a. A priest is not permitted to witness a marriage of two-Catholics, nor may he presume to witness any marriage in a merely civil capacity or for civil effects alone.
  • b. In all marriages, whoever receives the vows must sign the license. Priests or ministers of other religions who are present should not sign the license, nor should they "co-officiate" by sharing the nuptial ceremony.

Faculties and Delegation for Marriage

  • Pastors, by virtue of their office, have ordinary jurisdiction to officiate at marriages in their own parishes. Only a priest canonically assigned to a parish by the Ordinary as a pastor, or parochial vicar or a deacon who is assigned to that parish is delegated to witness marriages in that parisn. Such a priest or deacon cannot validly witness a marriage outside his parish unless he has the specific delegation of the pastor of the parish in which the wedding takes place, or of the Ordinary himself.
  • Visiting priests from other dioceses and religious priests, who are not appointed by the Ordinary as parochial vicars, need specific and individual delegation from the proper authority for each marriage they witness.