There is an extra to-do on my wedding planning checklist that perhaps a mere handful of brides-to-be are concerned about. This comes from my decision to wed my religiously unaffiliated fiance in a Catholic ceremony. According to Catholic doctrine, such a union is not prohibited but it does require a special "dispensation" from the Church.
This is called the Dispensation from the Disparity of Cult. Basically, it is a written petition that is addressed to the Bishop. Below is the template that was given to me by the Chancellor of the Diocese of Baguio:
I, Ms. ______ , a Catholic humbly petition your Excellency to grant a dispensation from the impediment of disparity of cult to enable me to marry Mr._____, a non-Christian belonging to ______ .
PROMISE OF THE CATHOLIC PARTY
I, the undersigned Catholic party, do hereby sincerely promise:
1. That I will take care to remain faithful to my catholic faith; and
2. That I will do all in my power to have all the children of this marriage baptized and brought up in the catholic faith
DECLARATION OF THE NON-CATHOLIC PARTY
I, Mr. _____, a non-Christian, intending to contract a marriage with Ms. _____, a Catholic, do hereby testify that I am aware of the promise made by my Catholic partner regarding our forthcoming marriage, and that I am cognizant of the obligation in the conscience imposed upon him/her by those promises.
Fr. Manuel, the Chancellor, was very clear about the procedure :
1. Write a petition for dispensation from the impediment of disparity of worship,addressed to the Bishop of Baguio.
2. Send the petition to the chancery office.
3. Wait for Bishop Carlito's dispensation.
So great! Pretty straightforward, right?
I express mailed the signed petition to the Baguio Diocese one month ago. I have received no acknowledgment from them.
And here's where it gets tricky.
When I told the parish officer at the Baguio church about the steps that I have taken, she presented different instructions for me. She told me the dispensation should be obtained from the groom's diocese. Yes,the non-Catholic groom's diocese. Go figure. Why, one may ask? Because apparently it is he who needs the "dispensation." Say what?
This just did not make sense to me. To my understanding, it is the Catholic party, i.e. me, who would have to request for the dispensation. So against Ms. Baguio Parish Officer's instructions, I took a trip to my parish.
But alas, the officer at my parish affirmed what Ms. Baguio Parish officer said. The dispensation needs to come from my fiance's parish.
I got in touch with the fiance's parish earlier today.
And as expected, the kind young lady who answered my query informed me that the dispensation must indeed be obtained from the Bishop of Baguio, because the marriage will take place under his diocese.
Oh boy. Here we go.
So now the next step is to relay this information to Ms. Baguio Parish Officer. I wonder what answer she will have for me. But when I go see her, I will bring a printed copy of my e-mail correspondence with the Chancellor of the Baguio diocese.
To be completely honest, I am feeling a little disheartened and discouraged by all this red tape. I just want to get married in the Catholic church. Is that too much to ask?
I'm beginning to have second thoughts about having my ceremony in this parish as it seems that they have no clear guidelines and directions on this matter. If they make things more difficult for me, I am inclined to find a different church. I hope that if it comes to that, I am not too late.
There is still time. I choose to believe in the goodness and generosity of spirit of this particular parish. I will not mope and dwell on these stumbling blocks, but will overcome them with prayer, faith and grace.