2

My question is essentially identical to the one in the Reddit post "Simony and wedding fees", which has yielded no satisfactory answer.

Essentially, how are wedding fees charged by a church not an example of simony? I am of course excluding fees for unnecessary parts of the sacrament like a choir, photographers, etc.

It seems that in researching this question, the most common answer I come across is along the lines of "the fee isn't for the sacrament itself, but rather for the space, time, etc." However, these fees are still inexorably linked to the sacrament, and ultimately must be paid to receive the sacrament. If a church were to offer a standard free Sacrament of Reconciliation, but confessors were required to pay a "confessional upkeep fee" in order to have their confession heard, I think people would consider this a clear case of simony.

Another answer I hear goes "If a couple were truly unable to pay the fee, they could talk to the priest and have it waived. So the fee is really like an optional donation, similar to the collection basket being passed around at mass." Again, however, I believe that this is a different scenario. There is no concept of needing to donate to the collection at mass to receive communion. A person not able to make a contribution to the collection does not have to take their case up with the priest to receive communion. The act of receiving communion, and the act of making a contribution to the collection, are completely distinct events.

The OP of the Reddit link has expressed these and other arguments much more fleshed out, so I recommend his question for reference.

An example of the fees I am referring to can be found on page 11 of the St. Patrick Cathedral General Wedding Instructions/Guidelines in NY.

Roman Catholic answers please.

1
  • Simony is the buying and selling of church offices (priesthood, episcopate) and dignities, not the accepting of a donation to officiate a wedding.
    – Geremia
    Apr 22, 2023 at 22:28

1 Answer 1

4

No there is no simony ordinarily in marriage. No fees are absolutely required for marriage; that is, in case of true financial need, the sacrament would not and could not be denied due to inability to pay.

Again, however, I believe that this is a different scenario. There is no concept of needing to donate to the collection at mass to receive communion.

Yes, because why would there be? You seem to be assuming the lack of payment being assumed elsewhere implies that it is simony for marriage, when the reality is the opposite. There would be a much stronger argument for simony if you had to give to the collection to receive communion.

The reality of why there is no payment expected there is a mix of custom and practicality. It's not practical to inspect in most cases who gives and doesn't on a regular basis to determine who would be eligible (including those whose need prevents). More specifically, communion is ordinarily received in the context of liturgies the priest prepares for and celebrates as a course of his duty. He is thus paid to do so. Marriages are extra liturgies, which require extra work, namely preparing the couple, writing special sermons, familiarizing oneself with special texts, etc and for these he is entitled to some honorarium, but he may not require one as a condition to receive it. Note well that in absence of ability to pay, he must still perform a marriage (Assuming requirements are met) but he is under no obligation to provide a choir, flowers, etc.

1
  • I did some more research and uncovered CCC 2122, which is in total agreement with your answer. It is only simony if the minister is "asking beyond the offerings defined by the competent authority." These offerings include that which is needed to support the minister. Thank you for the answer.
    – Tau307
    Apr 17, 2023 at 17:25

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .