CDW, Dispensation from the Canonical Form of Marriage for Two Roman Catholics, with Letters and Decree, 24 March 1994. Private.


The following is a letter of March 2, 1994, from parties to Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments:




James P. Jones, a Roman Catholic, born March 20, 1969, in Iconium, and Lydia D. Lystra, a catechumen, born August 8, 1972, at Athens, plan to marry on May 28, 1994.

James and Lydia are students at St. Joseph’s College; both are in the Army Reserve Officers Training Program. They have been engaged for a year, and at the time of their engagement made plans to marry before a Protestant minister who is a family friend, the ceremony to take place at the Congregational Church in Derbe, where Lydia’s family has a longtime association. The family home is adjacent to the church. None of Lydia’s family is Catholic.

Since transferring to St. Joseph’s College last Fall, Lydia has taken a religious studies course, and has participated in the Order of Christian Initiation for Adults. It is Lydia’s desire to be baptized; the celebration of the sacraments of initiation is scheduled for April 17, 1994, after the students have returned from Easter break. She and James desire that their family be of one faith.

Aware that the diocesan bishop may not grant the dispensation from canonical form for two Catholics, and aware also that this is a very exceptional petition, nonetheless James and Lydia respectfully request that a dispensation from canonical form be granted, so that after the wedding, which is to take place only five weeks after her baptism, may take place as planned, with the minister officiating, and the Catholic priest present.

The reasons for this request are:

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pg. 562
1. The plans for the wedding were already made, and were in place prior to Lydia’s transfer into Saint Joseph’s College, and prior to her decision to receive baptism;

2. Her family has a long and close association with the Congregational Church, and with the minister, who was already invited to officiate at the ceremony;

3. None of Lydia’s family is Catholic;

4. That Lydia’s conversion not have to be delayed;

5. There is no danger of scandal or indifferentism present.




The following is the letter of the Ordinary of the Diocese recommending the petition to Congregation:




Enclosed you will find the petition of James P. Jones, a Roman Catholic, and Lydia D. Lystra, a catechumen, for a dispensation from canonical form that their impending marriage might be celebrated on May 28, 1994, in the presence of a non-Catholic minister. Rev. Joseph Koury, chaplain at St. Joseph’s College assisted them in the preparation of the petition and witnessed it. I have also enclosed a copy of James’ baptismal certificate. The dispensation is being requested from your office because Lydia hopes to be baptized on April 17, 1994. I do not have the authority to dispense from canonical form in the case of two Roman Catholics.

I have met the young couple on two occasions: once after a Mass I celebrated on the campus of St. Joseph’s College, where they are both students; and again at the Rite of Election at the Cathedral. I find them to be sincere in their commitment to the Church. Lydia is anxious to be baptized. I can attest that there is no danger of scandal or indifferentism.

I know that this is a dispensation which is to be rarely requested and granted. I have never requested it before and do so now in light of the extraordinary circumstances. As indicated in their petition, all is prepared for the celebration. The plans for their wedding were made before it was known that she would be ready for baptism in April. The minister is a close friend of the family and agreed to witness the marriage a year ago. None of her family is Catholic and we desire not to trouble her family who wish to have the minister perform the ceremony and have accepted her baptism in the Catholic Church. I am most concerned, as is Lydia herself, not to delay her baptism, but to allow her to be initiated with those who have followed the Order of Christian Initiation with her at the college.

If it is convenient to send me a response by facsimile transmission, our number is (702) 337-2810.

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I humbly request that Your Eminence grant this petition which I earnestly endorse.




The following is the rescript which was sent to the bishop from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments:




The Bishop of ______, prostrated at the feet of Your Holiness, humbly requests the faculty to dispense from the canonical form of the celebration of the marriage which James P. Jones and Lydia D. Lystra wish to contract in the Congregational Church in _____ with the assistance of anon-Catholic minister for reasons set forth in the petition. …

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, having given attention to what has been set forth and to the particular circumstances concurring with the case and other pastoral reasons, remits to the Most Excellent Petitioner the concession of the requested dispensation, scandal and the wonderment of the faithful having been removed, with the caveat that it is not to be transformed into a precedent.

The present rescript with the attestation of the completed execution is to be diligently kept in the Episcopal Curia as a means by which one can have moral certainty of the validity of the marriage at any time and in any event, an annotation having been added in the baptismal and matrimonial registers according to the norm of law (c. 1121, §3).

Anything to the contrary in no way withstanding.




The local Ordinary, by the above rescript, was given the faculty to grant this dispensation. The decree of execution follows:




On this date, I hereby execute the rescript of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, prot. 576/94, and do grant the dispensation from canonical form in favor of James P. Jones, and Lydia D. Lystra that they might contract marriage at the Congregational Church, in the presence of a non-Catholic minister for the reasons given in my votum on this matter addressed to the Holy See, dated March 4, 1994.




CDW, March 1994, Dispensation from the Canonical Form of Marriage for Two Roman Catholics (unofficial translation), RRAO (1994): 12-16.