Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, General Decree Concerning the Procedure to be Observed in Preparing a Couple for Marriage, January 1998.


In accordance with the prescriptions of c. 1067, the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference hereby decrees that the following procedure shall be observed in preparing a couple for marriage:

7. Before marriage is celebrated, there must be proper preparation in accordance with the prescriptions of c. 1063 and diocesan guidelines for the pastoral care of marriage. It is the responsibility of the proper Ordinary or the proper parish priest of one of the parties to make certain that the required preparations are duly made and the pre-nuptial enquiry is carried out. If someone other than the parish priest is to assist at the marriage, the responsibility for the pre-nuptial enquiry may be entrusted to that person who is, however, by an authentic document, to inform that parish priest of the outcome of this enquiry as soon as possible.

8. The parties are to be interviewed separately, particularly concerning their civil and canonical freedom to marry, their understanding and acceptance if the ends and essential properties of marriage, and any possible impediments.

9. The prenuptial enquiry form authorised for use within the territory of the Conference is to be used in the enquiry.

10. The pre-nuptial enquiry file shall contain the pre-nuptial enquiry form, the baptismal certificate of each of the parties, the consent of parents or guardians where necessary, certification of publication of banns if they were publishes (cf. decree no. 23 [c. 1067]), as well as any other pertinent documentation.

pg. 1057

pg. 1058
11. If either or both parties intending to enter into marriage have been previously married, the pre-nuptial enquiry is not to proceed until there is a well founded certainty that the former union has been dissolved or declared null by ecclesiastical authority. No date is to be set for the wedding until the required proof of freedom to marry has been received.

12. In the case of a second marriage for either or both parties, when the previous union has been declared null, or has been dissolved for a reason other than death particular care is to be taken if a vetitum or a monitum has been placed against either or both parties by the Apostolic See or a matrimonial Tribunal. In such instances, before a date is set for the wedding, the Ordinary of the place where the marriage is to be celebrated is to be consulted according to the norms established in each diocese. Other situations which require the permission of the local Ordinary are listed in c. 1071.

13. If the pre-nuptial enquiry reveals that either of the prospective spouses was previously in a manifestly invalid union, e.g., through the lack of canonical form or the presence of a diriment impediment such as the bond of a former marriage, no wedding date should be set until a proper investigation has been made regarding the causes of the failure of the former union.




Code of Canon Law Annotated (Montréal: Wilson & Lafleur Limitée, 2004): 1782-1783.