The Church normally requires that every marriage between Catholics, or between a Catholic and a non-Catholic, be celebrated, before a bishop, priest or deacon duly authorized, and two witnesses, otherwise the parties will not, in the sight of God, be really husband and wife, even though there may be a binding legal contract under civil law. (A marriage between two non-Catholics is not subject to this rule).
A Catholic should choose a partner who is free to marry and not bound by a previous marriage.
A “Catholic” means anyone baptized in the Catholic Church; and it also means a baptized person who has become a Catholic.
The parties should give six months notice to their parish priest before the date proposed for the marriage not only so that the necessary documents, dispensation and other formalities can be dealt with, but also to ensure attendance at an engaged couples course.
The Church permits mixed marriages (i.e. between a Catholic and another Christian) to take place, but only within certain safeguards:
The Catholic party is asked to give this undertaking:
“I declare that I am ready to uphold my Catholic Faith and to avoid all dangers of falling away from it. Moreover, I sincerely undertake that I will do all that I can within the unity of our partnership to have all the children of our marriage baptized and brought up in the Catholic Church”.
The wedding normally takes place in a Catholic Church. For serious reasons, however, the Church is willing to grant a dispensation enabling the parties of a mixed marriage to have the ceremony in a non-Catholic church.
A dispensation is needed for a Catholic validly to marry a non-baptized person.
For an initial meeting, contact Fr James 020 8449 1961.