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Govt. To Bar Untrained Catholic Priests From Solemnising Weddings
MANILA, The Philippines(SAR NEWS) --The Filipino Catholic bishops’ hierarchy has said a new government policy will bar priests from solemnising weddings if they fail to undergo government training on marriage laws.

President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, December 13 said the topics to be taken up in the required seminar had long been part of the seminary curriculum.

The prelate assured that priests were always updated with the marital laws of the land through their diocesan chancellors and with the help of Canon Law experts.

The Philippines is Asia’s largest Catholic country. Government data show Catholics comprised 81 percent of 76 million Filipinos in the year 2000. About eight million Filipinos are working abroad.

The Philippines was a formerly Spanish colony for about 400 years followed by American occupation for 50 years.

The one-month preparation period required by the Catholic parishes before the celebration of marriages, he said, were intended to give ample time to fulfill both the Church and civil requirements.

“In view of this, the permanent council appeals for the cancellation of this required orientation seminar,” said Lagdameo.

According to CBCP regulations, to bless a Catholic wedding in the country, a priest has to obtain a Church licence from respective diocesan chancery after paying at least 500 pesos (US $ 12.19). The licence is issued for a stipulated period of time and subjected to renewal by the chancery as and when needed for each priest. This is done as per the legal requirement of the land in relation to marriage.

CBCP secretary general Father Juanito Figura said a number of prelates had brought to the attention of the CBCP permanent council their concern on the recent government policy.

He said that bishops received copies of the said ruling through a memorandum issued by the National Statistics Office (NSO) dated November 6.

The NSO said the policy was in line with the Administrative Order No. 1 Series of 2007, which embodies the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) governing the registration of authority to solemnise marriage with the civil registrar general.

One of the provisions in the IRR before granting a certificate of registration and authority to solemnise marriage to a solemnising officer (SO) is the requirement for proof of training conducted by the NSO.

In other words, unless priests undergo such seminars, they will not be allowed to solemnise the sacrament of marriage.

Courses offered in the seminar include: Marriage Laws and other related laws, Marriage Registration Procedures, and Registration Procedures of the Authority to Solemnise Marriage of SOs.

The memorandum basically imposes stern directive that all priests must undergo a two-day course to know the marriage laws of the country. It mandates that priests must be present not only one such “orientation seminar but also a regular refresher seminar.”

To attend the seminar, every priest must also pay a registration ranging from 1,500 to 3,500 pesos. (US$ 36.58 to 85.36).


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