Coronavirus: Catholic Church says it is unable to solemnise marriages via video link

The chancery said the Church aims to help its couples celebrate the milestone in person. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Couples who want to have their marriages solemnised by the Catholic Church will need to wait to do it in person, despite a new law allowing them to do it virtually.

The Chancery of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore said in a notice on Wednesday (May 6) that it will be unable to carry out virtual solemnisation after reviewing its understanding of the issue.

"While cognisant of the current health pandemic that is gripping the world, we also wish to affirm the importance of the physical interaction of the persons celebrating our sacraments," it said.

"As such, while the Church appreciates the efforts by the authorities in making marriage more accessible to couples in this difficult time, the Catholic Church in Singapore will not be able to solemnise marriages via video link."

The chancery said the Church aims to help its couples celebrate the milestone in person, while observing all health directives and social distancing measures implemented by the authorities.

This may mean that only essential people - the couple, two witnesses and the priest - might be present for the ceremony.

"The Internet becomes a useful means of reaching out to extended families and friends who wish to join in this celebration in real time," the chancery added.

It also said this arrangement would give spiritual meaning to the couple on their wedding day while also letting friends and families witness the occasion without going against safety and health requirements.

Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said in Parliament on Tuesday that 2,723 couples were scheduled to have their marriages solemnised between April 7 and June 1, but had to postpone their plans owing to circuit breaker measures.

He said the Government wanted to support couples who wanted to go ahead with the solemnisation and hence, the new law.

Couples can have their marriages virtually solemnised after completing the verification of documents procedure online and making statutory declarations virtually as well.

Such online proceedings will, at the start, be for couples where at least one party is a Singapore citizen or permanent resident, and who can present Singapore-issued documents.

Unless they belong to the same household, however, the bride, groom and other parties involved in the ceremony should not gather for the solemnisation, in line with safe distancing measures.

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