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Mike Hayes
Our readers asked:

Can I Be Excommunicated For Being a Wedding Officiant?

Mike Hayes Answers:

Question: A Catholic born in the Church grows up, and during their lifetime, they want to start a Marriage Officiant business. Not interested in giving the sacraments, they decide to join a well known ministry that ordains non-denominational ministers. Our Catholic then creates a wedding business that does not incorporate the Eucharist since this is an Ordained Priest’s duties. Years later, someone from the Church finds out, and now our Catholic is probably facing Excommunication for starting the business. Can this Catholic be excommunicated for becoming an ordained minister in this business?

The answer is, as most answers are, “it depends!”

The first thing to point out is that excommunication simply means that one has chosen to live “outside of communion” in the Catholic Church. More plainly, the person would have stated by their actions or verbally that they no longer believe what the Catholic Church believes. They would excommunicate by that reason. Rarely, does the Church take it upon themselves to say person X is living outside of communion. What the Church does do is point to a specific action and then ask the person if it is their wish to live outside of the bounds of the Church’s teaching. If so, then they excommunicate by their own choice, not the Church’s. If not, then they are told that the action they are participating in is outside of the bounds of the Church’s teaching and a process of RECONCILIATION begins to reacquaint the person with the teaching of the Church.

If you become an ordained minister of another denomination you would by definition be saying that you believe what that Church believes and in many ways would be stating to hold leadership in that Church. Therefore, you would be living outside of the Church’s teaching.

However, if you now wish to reconcile with the Catholic Church there is no reason that you could not do so. Talk to your local pastor about all the particulars and he’ll let you know what you have to do to reconcile. Also, check out Landings or Remembering Church, which are two great programs for people looking to come back to the Church.

The Author : Mike Hayes
Mike Hayes is the senior editor for the Googling God section at BustedHalo.com.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Mike

    I am a Catholic and go to Mass and I am very involved in my Parish. I have a friend that has asked me to marry them they are not a member of any church. This would be a civil wedding ceremony and not in any church. Would I be asked to leave the Catholic Church if I become an Ordained Minister and perform this wedding? This would not be an ongoing function they are just good friends.

  • Mike Hardy

    “If you become an ordained minister of another denomination you would by definition be saying that you believe what that Church believes and in many ways would be stating to hold leadership in that Church. Therefore, you would be living outside of the Church’s teaching.”

    What if that Church doesn’t require you to believe anything to become ordained? What if by rejection of interference from any church authority, they have implicitly claimed you really have no authority at all and hence couldn’t would not genuinely be a leader? From the Universal Life Church web site:

    “The Universal Life Church wants you to pursue your spiritual beliefs without interference from any outside agency, including government or church authority.

    You may become a legally ordained minister for life, without cost, and without question of faith.”

    Would it give scandal for a Catholic to have and publicize an ordination in the Universal Life Church? I can see that. But I wonder if such a person is really living outside church teaching and has really excommunicated themselves.

    • Gregory Dye

      If you were ordained in a church which seeks to allow something like what Life Church does, then would you not be saying that you choose to reject the authority of the Church as a guiding system for the faith of man? In some denominations, there is not an explicit contradiction between the action of becoming ordained in a parachurch organization, but I believe that that is not the case with the Catholic Church.

      • Mike Hardy

        I’m just thinking that in a church which requires virtually nothing for ordination that “ordination” means something different than it does in a more traditional Christian church (and quite possibly, it means nothing at all).

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