Kerala Catholic Church OKs marriage registration before church ceremony | Thiruvananthapuram News

The Syro-Malabar Church, a numerically strong Catholic Church based in Kerala, has decided to allow marriages to be registered before they are solemnised in church. The decision, which marks a departure from previous practices, was aimed at addressing growing demand from Church members who need marriage certificates to apply for family visas to join spouses abroad.

However, the decision came with a rider — the couple should not cohabit before their marriage is “sacramentally solemnised”, and this should be done at the earliest possible opportunity, the Church said.

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Kerala Catholic Church OKs marriage registration before church ceremony | Thiruvananthapuram News

The order was issued last month by Cardinal George Alencherry, the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church. The order said that for reasons such as the need for obtaining family visas to foreign countries, members of the Church could approach their local Church leadership for permission to get civil registration of marriage done. “The party who approaches the local hierarch for permission shall present a written request to that effect, which shall carry the undertaking that they will not live together, being aware of the sinfulness of cohabitation before sacramental marriage, and that they will get marriage sacramentally solemnised at earliest possibility,” order said.

In 2007, the Supreme Court had made civil registration of marriage mandatory irrespective of religion. The Church had mandated that members first get marriage solemnised in a church before it is registered under civil law.

Syro-Malabar Church’s Archiepiscopal Chancellor, Fr Abraham Kavilpurayidathil, said, “This change is meant to help those employed abroad, but want to apply for family visas. Many come on short leave, and won’t have time for civil registration if done after marriage at a church.”

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