Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Where Fr. H gets upset, I get angry!

Well, now is my time to vent about the general lack of knowledge most people possess concerning the Catholic Faith and its practices. Yesterday, I received a phone call from a parishioner who wanted us information concerning her daughter's upcoming wedding put in the bulletin. In the midst of phone call, the parishioner mentioned how the wedding was going to be outside and how difficult it had been to get things arranged, et cetera. Immediately, my Spidey Sense started tingling but I held off, thinking, maybe the daughter was a Protestant. In other words, I was hoping for a good reason.

Well, that failed to materialize. Today, I received in the mail the announcement for the wedding shower. First, the parent noted on the card that the daughter was a parishioner. That is not the case as I have NEVER seen this girl in my 18 months here in Alva and its missions. Also, since membership in a parish is designated by where one lives, unless she is living in that town or near to, she is not my parishioner any more. Second, as of yesterday, this is the first I have heard of this marriage. If the girl is a Catholic and has not formally defected from the Faith, then this marriage will be invalid. Permit me a few choice quotes from the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

Can. 1059 Even if only one party is Catholic, the marriage of Catholics is governed not only by divine law but also by canon law, without prejudice to the competence of civil authority concerning the merely civil effects of the same marriage.

Can. 1066 Before a marriage is celebrated, it must be evident that nothing stands in the way of its valid and licit celebration.

Can. 1096 §1. For matrimonial consent to exist, the contracting parties must be at least not ignorant that marriage is a permanent partnership between a man and a woman ordered to the procreation of offspring by means of some sexual cooperation.
§2. This ignorance is not presumed after puberty.

Can. 1108 §1. Only those marriages are valid which are contracted before the local ordinary, pastor, or a priest or deacon delegated by either of them, who assist, and before two witnesses according to the rules expressed in the following canons and without prejudice to the exceptions mentioned in cann. 144, 1112, §1, 1116, and 1127, §§1-2.
§2. The person who assists at a marriage is understood to be only that person who is present, asks for the manifestation of the consent of the contracting parties, and receives it in the name of the Church.

So you can imagine there are some problems with this situation. Furthermore, because of the timeline, the marriage is scheduled for the beginning of May, there is no way I can perform the ceremony without permission of the bishop. They have received no preparation from me as their pastor, so even if I wanted to preside at the nuptials, I couldn't. I would not be certain this is a valid bond. I would lack the moral certainty that the parties in question could assent to the consent being proposed. Third, there is no way on God's little green acre that I will receive permission to do the marriage out of doors which is the plan. Marriages are sacramental celebrations and as such they are to be performed in the parish church unless a serious cause, e.g. they are dying in a hospital, intervenes.

So, I tried to call the parents today so that this issue could be brought to their attention. No big surprise, no answer. But I tell you, right now, I am not advertising the wedding shower in our bulletin. If I had the wherewithal, I would announce AT SUNDAY MASS that none of the parishioners were to go to this sham, but I have some sense. It isn't the eleventh century anymore. =sigh=

This is really aggravating. I can't figure out how this gets past people. I don't accept the idea that "they weren't taught this so how can you blame them?" What? Are people so irrational that they think "Marriage isn't that big a deal, they just have sacramental celebration of them in the church?" I can't accept that. I might not have known the specifics of the law of the Church when it came to marriage when I became a Catholic, but I know I would have asked someone. That this never even crossed their mind is what astounds me.

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