“Ask a Priest: Can I Become an Online Minister to Preside at a Wedding?”

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Q: I am a practicing Catholic, and my son and fiancée would like me to perform the wedding ceremony for them, by becoming a minister over one of these online deals. It says I can legally do this. What does the Church think? – J.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: The Church requires every baptized Catholic who wants to wed to be married with Church approval. This usually means a Church wedding (Learn more with “Three Hearts: A Retreat Guide on the Sacrament of Marriage”).

If your son is Catholic, his marriage would be recognized only if it is approved by the Church.

A civil ceremony would not be recognized as valid by the Church. And for you to “officiate” at his wedding could give scandal, since you would be participating directly in encouraging an invalid marriage. That means you would be helping to lead your son into an irregular union that is not blessed by God. Objectively it would be gravely sinful for him and his friend to live as husband and wife in this case.

Moreover, your being “ordained” for the purpose of the ceremony could be construed by observers as a formal break with the Catholic Church.

So the short answer is, if you want to do the right thing, you should consider avoiding this whole plan.

You might, instead, encourage your son to speak with a priest. It seems that your son might not have a proper understanding of marriage and its place within God’s plans.

Marriage is a sacrament which, properly received, can help a couple grow in holiness. And that is what marriage is really about: helping the spouses give glory to God, grow in holiness, and get to heaven.

Perhaps you can take all this to prayer and see how the Holy Spirit wants you to show a truly fatherly concern for your son’s spiritual well-being.

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