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Precedence of civil marriage

Under Art. 21 of the Constitution, in effect since 1831: “The State has no right to intervene in the appointment or establishment of ministers of any religion, or to defend them from corresponding with their superiors and making their actions public, except, in the latter case, as regards ordinary responsibility for the press and publication. Civil marriage must always precede the nuptial blessing, aside from exceptions to be established by law, where applicable”. The Criminal Code of 1868 reiterated this prohibition, in Article 267, amended in 1908 to include a single exception: “A fine of fifty francs to five hundred francs will be imposed on any minister of a religion who gives a nuptial blessing before the celebration of civil marriage. This provision shall not apply when one of the persons who received the nuptial blessing was in danger of death, and any delay in this ceremony would have had the effect of making it impossible. In the event of a further offence of the same kind, he may also be sentenced to eight days to three months’ imprisonment”.

D 3 November 2015    AStéphanie Wattier

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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