National Conference of Catholic Bishops, General Decree Concerning the Investigation of the Freedom to Marry, 20 October 2000.


On November 18, 1998, the Latin Rite de iure members of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops approved complementary legislation for canon 1067 of the Code of Canon Law for the Latin Rite dioceses of the United States.

The action was granted recognitio by the Congregation for Bishops in accord with article 82 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus and issued by decree of the Congregation for Bishops signed by His Excellency Most Reverend Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect, and His Excellency Most Reverend Franciscus Monterisi, Secretary, and dated September 30, 2000.

Complementary Norm: The National Conference of Catholic Bishops, in accord with the prescriptions of canon 1067 and with due regard for

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canon 1068, hereby decrees that the following norms shall be observed in preparation of a couple for marriage:

1. The couple should receive appropriate education and pastoral preparation through participation in a marriage preparation program approved by the diocesan bishop;

2. Parties should be questioned as to their freedom to marry;

3. Baptized Catholics should present a recently issued annotated baptismal certificate;

4. Where necessary, additional documentation (such as affidavits of parents) attesting to a Catholic party’s freedom to marry should be presented;

5. Baptized nonCatholics should present satisfactory proof of baptism and freedom to marry;

6. Unbaptized persons should present satisfactory proof of freedom to marry;

8. Preparation for marriage should be in conformity with the prescriptions of canon 1063 (regarding what must precede marriage) and canons 1064, 1071, 1072, 1086§2 and 1125, which entrust certain situations to the special care of local ordinaries;

9. Preparation for marriage should be in compliance with appropriate civil laws.

As President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, I hereby decree that the effective date of this decree for all the Latin Rite dioceses in the United States will be December 1, 2000.

Given at the offices of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, DC, on October 20, 2000.

Most Reverend Joseph A. Fiorenza

Bishop of Galveston-Houston

President, NCCB

Reverend Monsignor Dennis M. Schnurr

General Secretary




Code of Canon Law Annotated (Montréal: Wilson & Lafleur Limitée, 2004): 1797-1798. www.usccb.org/norms