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Faith/Spirituality Forum: dispensation from the Bishop

by Catherine Frakas 09 Mar 2001

dispensation from the Bishop QUESTION from Alena on January 23, 2003 Hi,
my name is Alena, I am from the Czech Republic. I'm not a christian (neither any other religion, I have my own faith in God though). I love a catholic man (and he loves me) and we plan to get married. How long does it take to get an answer from the Bishop to get a dispensation for the marriage? How common is that the answer is no? What is important for the decision? We plan to raise our children in catholic faith. He was already once married and has an annulment (but quite new).
Thank you for your answer.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on January 29, 2003 Dear Alena:
Thanks for your question.
The requirements for a bishop to grant a dispensation are listed in Canon 1125 and 1126

Can. 1125 The local Ordinary can grant this permission if there is a just and reasonable cause. He is not to grant it unless the following conditions are fulfilled: 1 ° the catholic party is to declare that he or she is prepared to remove dangers of defecting from the faith, and is to make a sincere promise to do all in his or her power in order that all the children be baptised and brought up in the catholic Church;
2 ° the other party is to be informed in good time of these promises to be made by the catholic party, so that it is certain that he or she is truly aware of the promise and of the obligation of the catholic party
3 ° both parties are to be instructed about the purposes and essential properties of marriage, which are not to be excluded by either contractant.
Can. 1126 It is for the Episcopal Conference to prescribe the manner in which these declarations and promises, which are always required, are to be made, and to determine how they are to be established in the external forum, and how the non-catholic party is to be informed of them.

What this means is that there must be a just and reasonable cause for the Bishop to grant dispensation, and the Catholic party needs to :
1) ensure that things will be such in the relationship that there is no danger of the Catholic part losing faith and leaving the Church;
2) promise that the children will be baptized and raised Catholic;
3) that the non-Catholic party is informed of the these promises made by the Catholic party;
4) the couple must be instructed in the nature of marriage
The Conference of Bishops for the Czech Republic determine exactly how this procedure is to be done. I have no way of knowing what those requirements are.
In any event, I wouldn't think that the decision of the bishop for these sorts of cases should not take a long time.
On the question on whether the decision of the bishop is to deny petitions for a dispensation, the answer is yes. The policies of when bishops accept or deny such petition will vary from country to country.
You may talk with your local parish priest or with the Diocese offices to find out details.
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