Directives for Priests, Deacons and Pastoral Assistants: The Preparation of the Couple for Matrimony

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  1. wedding date should be booked only after the one preparing the couple for marriage meets with them in person and determines that both parties are canonically free to marry.
  2. Wedding dates should be booked by the one responsible for preparing the couple for marriage.  Parish Secretaries or other Office/Rectory personnel should not be authorized to book wedding dates.
  3. Wedding dates should not be booked by telephone or e-mail.
  4. Couple should be carefully questioned about any previous marriage.  It must be spelled out clearly that any type of previous marriage (i.e. by a civil official, minister, rabbi, “Elvis impersonator,” or in the Church) must be examined, prior to the setting of a wedding date, to determine what type of action must be taken by the Tribunal.
  5. No Wedding date may be set for any couple when at least one of the parties has a previous marriage question that must be answered by the Tribunal.  Only when the question has been resolved (i.e., a declaration of nullity is granted) can a date be set for the Church.  Dates should not be “penciled in” by the person preparing the couple, even if it is anticipated that a positive result will come from the Tribunal.
  6. Appropriate sacramental certificates, testimonies of free status, and dispensations or permissions should be obtained.  Baptismal certificates should be issued six months or less from the date of the scheduled wedding.  (In extreme cases, like obtaining sacramental certificates from overseas, baptismal certificates may be accepted one year or less from the date of the scheduled wedding.)
  7. Any priest, deacon or pastoral assistant who is responsible for preparing couples for marriage should conduct separate interviews with each party concerning their free status and attitude towards the essential rights and duties of matrimony (the questioned posed on the PMI).  Any practice of interviewing the parties together concerning these questions should be discontinued.
  8. Pastors and parochial administrators are reminded of the obligation to send a notice of marriage to the Church where each Catholic party was baptized.  Care should likewise be taken that such notices received by pastors and parochial administrators be entered into the baptismal record of the Catholic party.
  9. Pastors have the ultimate responsibility of ensuring that couples are properly prepared and are free to marry.  All pastors and their collaborators must follow these directives for the pastoral good of the couples involved.