Destination Weddings?

Q. Our granddaughter is engaged to be married. She is a cradle Catholic and her fiancé is a Protestant who is planning on coming into the Church next year. However, they are planning a destination wedding before he comes into the Church. The wedding will be taking place in the Dominican Republic with a Catholic priest performing the ceremony on the beach. I wondered if this is something the Church approves of.

Carol, via e-mail

A. Here is a reply from Father Francis Hoffman, J.C.D.:

If a Catholic priest performs the wedding ceremony on the beach, I would assume that the priest has valid permission to do so from the local bishop. If you have any doubt, ask to see a copy of the written permission. Ordinarily, such permission is not granted to priests by their bishops in the United States.

It is far better for a couple to exchange their vows in a Catholic Church in front of the altar of sacrifice and the crucifix — both vivid reminders of what it takes to remain faithful in marriage: sacrifice.