OCM 25: Lay Persons Assisting At Marriages

Once the chain of command is invoked, a lay person may preside at a liturgy:

25. Where there is a shortage of Priests and Deacons, the Diocesan Bishop can delegate laypersons to assist at Marriages, after a prior favorable vote of the Conference of Bishops and after the permission of the Apostolic See has been obtained. A suitable layperson is to be selected, who is capable of giving instruction to those preparing to be married and able to perform the Marriage liturgy properly.(cf. canon law 1111-1112) The layperson asks for the consent of the spouses and receives it in the name of the Church.(cf. canon law 1108)

Your comments?

The text cited in blue is from the English translation of The Order of Celebrating Matrimony © 2013, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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2 Responses to OCM 25: Lay Persons Assisting At Marriages

  1. Philip from UK says:

    It’s not clear what “assist” means here. If there is a priest present to conduct the marriage then I’m not sure what assistance they might need. If it means in circumstances where a priest is unavailable because of an acknowledged shortage and a suitable lay person substitutes for a priest, then I doubt UK law would allow this. There strict limitations on who can conduct a marriage, whether civil or religious. It’s not like the US where you can get ‘ordained’ online. I gather the singer Adele did just this to carry out a marriage of a British comedian and his partner in her Californian home.

    • Todd says:

      It does indeed mean the Church will authorize a lay person to preside at a wedding liturgy. This assumes the local bishop okays it, the national conference has allowed it, and the Vatican has signed off on the particulars of the bishops’ conference request.

      If the UK doesn’t allow for the involvement of a non-ordained minister, then the simple solution would be for the couple to have a civil marriage by an authorized secular official, followed by a Catholic ceremony by the bishop-approved lay person.

      In Roman Catholic theology, priests and deacons don’t “conduct” a marriage. The couple does. The ordained cleric is a witness.

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