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The matrimonial covenant, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring.

The Church has a rich tradition in its teaching on sacramental marriage and covenantal union. The Old Testament authors write of God making a covenant with the chosen people and promising them that they will never be forsaken. The New Testament authors write of Jesus as the new covenant and compare the relationship of Jesus with the Church to the relationship of a husband and wife. The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership for the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring.


Frequently Asked Questions about the Sacrament of Marriage

Are there any requirements regarding who may act as witnesses to a marriage?

According to Church law, there must be two witnesses who have the capability to witness and actually be present for the ceremony. They do not have to be Catholic. Wisconsin state law requires that witnesses be 18 years or older.

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Does reception into the Catholic Church by baptism or profession of faith eliminate previous marriages from the background of the non-Catholic?

No, the marriage is presumed valid by the Catholic Church.

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Is a baptized non-Catholic who was previously married before a civil official considered validly married?

A specific form of marriage is not required for non-Catholics. As long as the marriage in question did not involve a Catholic party, a non-Catholic is considered validly married. Such a person is not free to marry in the Catholic Church until a Tribunal investigation has been completed.

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Is a priest or deacon permitted to officiate at the wedding of someone other than a parishioner?

The general law of the Church states that Catholics are to be married in their own parish church. However, they may marry elsewhere with the permission of their own pastor or parish director.

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Is it permissible to celebrate the marriage of two Catholics without celebrating the Eucharist?

The Rite of Christian Marriage without Eucharist may be appropriate in some instances. The pastoral decision is entered into mutually by the couple and the celebrant of the wedding.

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Is it required that Catholics be confirmed before they marry in the Church?

If they can do so without serious inconvenience, Catholics who have not yet received the sacrament of confirmation are to receive it prior to being married. If a person has not been confirmed and requests marriage, the confirmation should be celebrated if the person can be adequately prepared. If it is impossible to prepare someone adequately before marriage, then the priest should proceed with the wedding, but use every means possible to see that the person is confirmed on the first occasion after the marriage has taken place.

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May a non-parishioner be permitted to use a parish church for a wedding?

Yes, as long as a Catholic person has received permission from his pastor or parish director to be married in a different parish church.

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What are civil law requirements for couples who are preparing for marriage?

Wisconsin state law requires that a marriage license be issued by a county clerk from the county in which one of the persons has resided for at least 30 days immediately prior to making application. If both persons are nonresidents, the license is issued by the clerk of the county where the marriage is to be performed. Marriage may be performed in any county of the state within 30 days of issuance of the license.
There is a five-day waiting period prior to marriage.

When applying for a license, each person must present documentary proof of identity and residence, a certified copy of a birth certificate, copies of any previous divorces and copies of death certificates for any deceased spouse.

A person between the ages of 16 and 18 years old must have the written and notarized consent of a parent.

No one who is divorced may marry again until six (6) months after the judgement of divorce is granted.

Persons who are nearer of kin than second cousins may not marry. First cousins may marry if the woman is 55 years or older or one of the parties presents a certified affidavit from a physical stating that the party is permanently sterile.

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What forms must be completed prior to a wedding?

The following forms need to be completed:

  • Prenuptial questionnaires by both parties;
  • Affidavits attesting to the freedom to marry of the parties;
  • Petition requesting a dispensation or permission, in cases requiring these actions.
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Where can marriage forms be obtained?

The prenuptial questionnaires and affidavits are available at religious goods stores. The petition request forms are available from the Chancery office (414-769-3340).

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Who may receive Communion at a wedding Mass? Communion

Because Catholics believe that the celebration of the Eucharist is a sign of the reality of the oneness of faith, life and worship, members of those churches with whom we are not yet fully united are ordinarily not admitted to Holy Communion. Eucharist sharing in exceptional circumstance by other Christians requires permission from the archbishop. For further information, go to the following link: Non-Catholics and Holy Communion.

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Why is permission required after a declaration of nullity or invalidity before a person may marry again in the Catholic Church?

The presumption is that there are certain natural obligations that arise from a union and the Church wishes to ensure that a person is not attempting to use a subsequent marriage to avoid these obligations toward a former partner or children.

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How do I locate my baptismal records?

You can find information about baptismal records here.

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There is not one office that can answer all "faith" related questions but the following are typically the best source for many that you might have.

For answers to Canon Law (Church law) questions:
Chancery Office

For answers to general liturgical or sacramental questions:
Office for Worship

You can also review the Contact Us page for additional information.

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The Archdiocese of Milwaukee

3501 South Lake Drive
St. Francis, WI 53235

Phone:  (414) 769-3300
Toll-Free: (800) 769-9373
Fax:  (414)  769-3408