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Has Columbus banned weddings? – Catholic Times – Catholic Times

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Dear Father,

I just started marriage preparation and my priest said something about a marriage ban. I’m confused because I thought the Catholic Church wanted marriages. I was too nervous to ask the priest and I didn’t want to look stupid. So, I’m writing anonymously to you to ask why Columbus is banning weddings.

-Bachelor Guy

Dear Bachelor Guy,

Having the first meeting with a priest about getting married can feel daunting, especially if you have never sat down and talked with a priest before. It may seem more intimidating when you’re talking about marriage. What’s worse is to hear from the priest that you may not be able to have a wedding because he’s banning it!

What he actually meant was not “ban” but “bann.” That 2nd “n” makes all the difference. Ban with one “n” means to forbid, to prohibit, as in “there is a swimming ban until the sharks go away.” 

When ban is used as a verb, its past tense is “banned.” So, a person might think that the Diocese of Columbus has banned weddings, as if the bishop declared that there are to be no more weddings in this diocese.

I heartily assure you that nothing could be further from the truth! We want Catholic weddings. The more, the merrier.

“Bann” is a noun. It means proclamation (although there is a River Bann in Ireland). This proclamation, or announcement, is tied specifically to future Catholic weddings.

The origin of the marriage bann was to forestall the possibility of invalid marriages due to matrimonial impediments, such as previous marriages that were never decreed null. Another impediment to marriage is a man who is a priest but has not been officially “laicized.” (How a priest can be considered a layman could be a topic for another day.) Yet another potential impediment involves an extremely close blood relationship between the man and woman seeking marriage.

It used to be the case that wedding banns were announced from the pulpit at Sunday Masses and were printed in the parish bulletin. The bann supplied the names of the intended bride and groom and the date of the wedding. The announcement included words to the effect that if anyone knew of a reason these two should not be married, let that person come forward to the priest and explain the reason. The banns were typically announced for three weeks prior to the wedding. 

Until recently, people didn’t relocate very often from their hometown, so a person’s reputation and family connections would have been more easily known. Even in our day, Google and Facebook don’t always reveal some well-kept life secrets.

Today, couples preparing for marriage attest to their freedom from impediments and their parents sign affidavits stating that their son or daughter possesses the freedom to marry, especially concerning the possibility of previous marriages.

Contemporary Church law does not stipulate the use of marriage banns but leaves the matter to the conferences of bishops in each country. In the United States, there is no universal mandate for or against the publication of matrimonial banns.

In Columbus, it has been the practice since 2010 to publish marriage banns in the parish bulletin of both the bride and groom at least once three weeks before the wedding. If one or the other lives outside the diocese, we simply request that the other parish print the bann in its bulletin.

If the banns are not required by law, then why use them?

First and foremost, the public nature of the bann emphasizes the magnitude of matrimony. While parents are often the ones to supply testimony about freedom to marry, it is important that other people who know the couple be informed so that they, too, have a role in protecting the sacrament of matrimony.

Another great thing about the publication of the marriage bann is that it advertises, if you will, Catholic marriage. In our day, unfortunately cohabitation is so common that many young people don’t even consider marriage as essential to a loving union of complete self-giving. 

Even if it’s only the parish bulletin (many of which, by the way, are also available online and therefore have a wider audience), the bann proclaims that this man and this woman are giving themselves to each other for life and want to raise a family.

Additionally, with the high rate of relocation, friends in one’s current city may not know about a bride’s or groom’s freedom to marry. Sometimes social media can help in this regard. It is vital that family, old friends and new friends have the opportunity to speak up when necessary.

Wouldn’t it be better to let a person’s personal history remain secret? Not when it comes to holy matrimony. Marriage is a public act. Both the bride and groom have the right to know the major events in the personal history of a spouse, especially when it is a matter of determining the validity of the marital union.

I wish you well on your future wedding! 

This post was originally published on this site

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