When no priests were available, the bishop of the Que-bec Diocese of Rouyn-Noranda sought and received Vatican permission for a local nun to officiate at a recent wedding.
While the story has been portrayed around the world as a sign that Pope Francis is changing the role of women in the church, Bishop Dorylas Moreau said the wedding was carried out according to a long-established provision of canon law.
It allows an exception for a layperson to be permitted to officiate at a wedding when a bishop, priest or deacon is unavailable. That layperson can be a man or a woman.
“It was also an experiment for the Catholic Church.”
“It is an exceptional situation, not something habitual,” Bishop Moreau said in French.
The bishop said he has only 16 priests for 35 parishes in a diocese that covers nearly 9,300 square miles of rugged territory. The diocese has more than 75 nuns, but no deacons, although three are currently in formation.