Can I Be Excommunicated For Being a Wedding Officiant?

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.

Mike Hayes

Mike co-founded in 2001. Currently, Mike is the director of campus ministry at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. A frequent speaker on ministering to young adults, Mike is the author of "Googling God: The Religious Landscape of People in Their 20s and 30s" and "Loving Work: A Spiritual Guide to Finding the Work We Love and Bringing Love to the Work We Do."