Can I be ordained online to officiate a wedding?


Full Question

The Universal Life church offers quick, free ordinations online that allow someone to officiate at a civil wedding. Can a Catholic obtain such an ordination?

Answer

There are two principles to keep in mind here: First, a Catholic cannot accept "ordination" in a non-Catholic church because such "ordination" is invalid and because it gives the appearance that one has joined and ministers in a non-Catholic church. Second, assuming that there are no obvious impediments to marriage, a lay Catholic who is qualified by the state to preside at civil marriages may do so for non-Catholics who are not bound by Catholic marital law.

In short, although a Catholic may not try to become "ordained" in a non-Catholic church in order to officiate at a civil wedding, if he is qualified by the state by some other licit means to preside at civil weddings (e.g., judge, justice of the peace), he can preside at a civil wedding under the conditions mentioned above.