Bishop says don't sign marriage docs on altar

Bishop Kevin Manning of Parramatta has pointed out that the General Instruction of the Roman Missal forbids the signing of marriage documentation on the altar.

The exchanging of vows and promise before God, the giving and receiving of rings and the joining of hands, are the symbols of marriage, Bishop Manning said in the December/January "Questions Bishops are asked" section of the diocesan website.

But the Altar is the "Table of Sacrifice" and only items required to celebrate mass are permitted to be place on it

"At the Altar, the Memorial of the Lord is celebrated and His Body and Blood given to the people. Therefore, the Church's writers have seen in the Altar a sign of Christ Himself," Bishop Manning said.

"The only provision for signing a document on the Altar is within the Rite of Religious Profession. This applies because the candidate is joining himself/herself to Christ in a unique and special way.

"In the case of the Rite of Marriage, no provision is made for signing at any point in the liturgy. This is because the signing of papers is a requirement under the Marriage Act of the Commonwealth of Australia and has no relationship to the liturgy of marriage," he said.

Bishop Manning says as it is inappropriate to sign legal marriage documents papers on the Altar, side table should be provided and best done at the conclusion of the wedding liturgy, after the blessing and before the couple leaves the church.

Questions bishops are asked (Catholic Outlook, December 2007/January 2008)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Diocese of Parramatta
Respecting the altar (Liturgy Lines 18/11/07)

7 Dec 2007