Can a catholic marry a Jehovah witness and remain catholic ?

I have been trying to find resources on interfaith marriages especially between a catholic and JW. I contacted my priest and actually had a sit down conversation with him, but he didn’t seem knowledgeable enough.

Here is the dilemna; my girlfriend, a JW has not agreed to marry in the church, saying her only condition will be if it is a neccessity to allow me to keep receiving communion and participate in other sacraments.

I currently live in houston, TX and so will appreciate if there is a number or person or online resource that deals on this particualr subject : Interfaith marriage between a catholic and JW.



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I’m not sure what you need to know that your priest could not tell you.

A Catholic needs a dispensation to marry a non-Christian. JWs are not a Christian religion, so unless your wife has been validly baptized in a Protestant denomination you need to get a dispensation for disparity of cult.

If your fiance refuses to marry in the Catholic form, then you will need an additional dispensation to marry outside Catholic form.

Regardless of any dispensations you receive, you and your spouse must attend Catholic premarriage preparation and counseling. You must also promise to baptize and raise your children Catholic, and she must be informed of this promise.

Honestly, what you seek to undertake is a very bad idea.

Personally, I suggest you make an appointment with someone of the caliber of Msr. Frank Rossi at St. Michaels. And, be open to his counsel regarding mixed marriage.

I would say that it is a pretty bad idea too… and I would suggest that you

  1. pray for your fiancée for her conversion
  2. take your time, pray to Holy Spirit, attend a retreat and try to discern about this marriage.

I have heard lots of stories of inter-faith marriages that have worked or have not worked, of course, there will always be exceptions. Lots of people say that inter-faith marriages are tough, and some regret their decisions - for me, sharing my faith with my husband, being able to pray together is something wonderful. You will not have it.
JW are very anti-Catholic, they disagree with almost everything that Catholic Church teaches. And the thing is that JW are pretty much a sect, and you must be made aware that if your marriage is in trouble, she will choose her religion over you. If your child needs blood transfusion, she will rather allow her child to die than agree for that. Celebrating Christmas or birthdays is wrong for them - so forget about it. And you do not know how much time she will spend outside her home studying Watchtower or Awaken (they claim they study the Bible but I would have some doubts). She might be marrying you having this in her mind that you too will soon become a JW… so one more thing that you could do is read a lot about JW, about their beliefs, and visit some of the ex-JW websites (like to see how the group is run. And pray that you take the right decision.

Anything that causes friction before marriage will likely get worse after marriage. The JW faith is quite hostile toward Christianity, Christendom as they call it, so there is potential for problems. It all depends on how strongly a person accepts that faith.

I have a close relative who has been married to a JW for longer than I have been alive, so it can work. It has caused problems in the family with issues over Christmas celebrations.

If you contemplate marriage, be sure to understand your own faith fully so that you are not led astray by the ever-changing JW theology and pray for your fiance.

Well certainly you wouldn’t be able to receive the sacraments if your marriage hasn’t been blessed by a Catholic priest or deacon - that’s assuming you don’t get a dispensation.

I’ve heard of dispensations from having to physically marry inside a Catholic Church, but I’ve never heard of a dispensation from at least having a Catholic priest concelebrate the marriage. Maybe a joint ceremony is an option?

In any event it’s not a foregone conclusion that you’d actually be granted either type of dispensation, depends on the local Catholic bishop.

I forgot to list a good resource earlier. Try:

If a Catholic receives a dispensation from form, it is not necessary for a priest/deacon to be present at the ceremony. They may have a deacon or priest as a witness if they choose, but he does not perform the marriage. There is no such thing as “concelebrating” the ceremony with a non-Catholic minister.

I just got a PM with a link to this thread.

I am a Catholic married to a JW. I am so sorry you are in this situation. Being married to a JW is not easy. The difference of beliefs is HUGE. They aren’t Christian, and all they try to do is to convert you.

I married my husband civilly and he was adamant that we would never ever marry in the Church. I thought to myself that I could convince him. To this day (almost 3 yrs into our marriage), he still doesn’t come near a Catholic Church. He did it once for counseling, but he says he will never do it again.

I didn’t get a dispensation. I had no idea such thing existed. spoke to a priest before I married my husband and he never said anything to me about that, and i was the first person in my family to marry a non-Catholic, so noone in my family knew I needed a dispensation.

Anyway, after many threads and posts here on CAF, a canon lawyer contacted me and told me about a way I could make my marriage valid in the eyes of the Church (which I did), and it turns out my marriage is Sacramental because my husband was originally Catholic and he never formally gave up his link to the Catholic Church… but that’s another story… (and this was only possible w/my Bishop’s approval)

I guess where I’m getting at is that it’s not going to be easy for you to get that kind of dispensation. JWs are not Christians. They are false prophets. They lie about who God is, they brainwash people, they make them close minded and stubborn. They feed them so many lies in their meetings, it’s incredible that I actually married one. I attended their meetings for 1 yr, and I was actually treated as a JW. They thought I’d convert, they thought I believed it all… little did they know :rolleyes:

If you choose to marry this girl, you’re going to have to set things straight before getting married. For example, that your children HAVE to be raised Catholic and that they cannot learn about their religion, that you will NEVER switch over to that religion (otherwise the Church won’t marry you), that she will respect the fact that you will have a crucifix, statues of Mary, rosaries, etc in the house, that you will celebrate bdasy and holy days and holidays… if you don’t fromt he beginning, you’re in for disaster… I tell you this from experience.

The one thing though is that if you do not marry in the Church, you will not be able to receive the Lord in communion and you won’t be able to even confess your sins. So, if your girlfriend says that she’d marry you in the Church so you can receive the Sacraments, then do it. But it’s going to be hard. She’s going to be expelled for marrying a Catholic and going against her religion (my husbad was excommunicated/shunned/esxpelled for over 14 months)… and they are going to try to convince her not to marry you and of course, to not marry you in the Church if they cannot convince her to not marry you.

Are you ready to accept her going to preach false teachings? To have bible studies at your house? Her going to meetings 3 times a wk for a total of 5 hrs a wk plus the door to door knocking/preaching and the individual studies? Are you ready to accept that she won’t celebrate anything with you? Are you ready to accept that she is going to try and convert you?

I am lucky enough that my husband fell out of that religion, but from time to time he gets back to it. He’s not active but when he goes back to them, his stubborness comes back. His close mindedness comes back… are you ready to live a life like that forever?

Anyway… feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

I hope you think about this before jumping in to marry her.


Just wanted to say something about this since it looks like the OP doesn’t know much about the JWs…

A priest cannot cocelebrate a marriage of a JW with a Catholic because that is against the JW religion (and I hesitate calling this a religion because in reality it is a cult, not a religion)… A JW cannot have a joint ceremony because baptized JWs are only allowed to marry other baptized JWs. To be married by a JW elder, both people have to be baptized and active and in good standing JWs (also both need to be virgins). Since the OP is not a baptized JW, he cannot marry her in her religion. Then, the Catholic Church doesn’t allow joint ceremonies. It allows another pastor or leader from another religon to be in the Catholic ceremony, but not make it a joint one. A joint one would mean marrying in the JW and Catholic religions at the same time. Neither institiution allows that. And usually for another pastor or elder in this case, to be allowed to cocelebrate, the OP would need a dispensation for this, aside from the disparity of cult, which I believe, but I could be wrong, can only be granted by a Bishop.

ETA: In a way I wish BibleSteve of Jeff Schwehm would join this thread…

JW’s are very anti-Catholic. JW’s are not even Christian. How would you raise your children?

I will pray for you.


You would have a very hard time.

My sister is a devout JW, so I may know more than most.

If your fiancee believes like my sister, she will object strenuously to anything she believes is an idol - which basically includes *all *of Catholic art, Rosaries, “Southwestern” art such as Kokopelli, and a lot of other things the rest of us take for granted.

No books or entertainment that contains even a *hint *of the supernatural - no ghost stories, no Narnia books, no X-men, not even the Wizard of Oz.

No to anything that might *possibly *represent the devil. She even turned down a beautiful silk bedspread my DH brought home from Korea because it had dragons on it. Why? because of the dragon in Revelation.

If she agrees to raise the children Catholic, she is probably counting on not having to, because she’s sure you will convert.

If you are in an accident, she might refuse to authorize a blood transfusion for you. She may not have the legal right to do that to you, but she will have the right to do so for your children. She will be deeply, viscerally opposed to it. Not “consuming” blood is an article of faith for them as strong as the Trinity is for us.

If neither of you converts, prepare for a major battle when your children are born. When you see that tiny life that you and God created, your faith becomes a whole lot more important. Each of you wants to raise your child the bast way possible, and that means in **your **faith, not the spouse’s.

Most important of all: NEVER marry someone because you are sure they will change. That’s the basis for most of the divorces I’ve seen, including my parents. And each one thinking the other person will convert is the only reason I can think of for a Catholic and a JW to be willing to marry.

Sorry to be so tough, but I want you to see the reality.

God bless you,



Hi, you don’t know me and I only joined this site to talk to you after doing a google search on “inter religion marriage, jw and catholic”. Let me start off by saying that I’m not a psycho or lunatic, just a concerned and slightly confused individual. Here is a little about me first before I jump into why I’m messaging you in the first place. I am 29 and was baptized catholic when i was a baby. I was brought up 100% catholic. I went to catholic school from kindergarten through my senior year in HS. I used to be a certified CCD instructor. I was part of a youth group in my parish. The whole shebang. In HS I started questioning things like any adolesent does. I have been hot and cold with the church since then. I still goto church almost every sunday or sat night (but mostly to appease my Mom in recent years), I do the holy days, and the holidays with my family. I just don’t like the church that much. I never claim to be a good catholic and I’m not what I refer to certain people as die hards. I have my faith and I try as hard as I can to be a good person, which is what I interpert what Jesus want’s from us in the first place.

I started dating a girl and we actually celebrated our 1 year anniversary this past Oct 30th. I am madly in love with her and I already bought a ring. I’m going to ask her to marry be this month. She was baptized catholic as a baby, but her father converted to jw after she was baptized and she was raised in that religion. She was on her way to being baptized jw but always kept putting it off. As she got older she didn’t really keep up the faith. She has one sister who is hardcore and another who isn’t. The one who isn’t was baptized jw but just stopped caring about it and now she is marrying a catholic from Ecuador, which is where she lives now. The hardcore sister refuses to goto the wedding even though the rest of her family is going. Her parents still goto meetings but their love of their kids apparently trumps the jw faith.

We have been talking about religion and marriage and have come to a compromise about it and our future kids. She may or may not go back to the jw’s and I’m still going to goto church. When kids come along we are going to teach them the bible and they can decide what is right for themselves later on when they ask about religion.

My mother found this out the other day and was very upset. My father was slightly disappointed but he heard what I had to say and understands my feelings. He put my feelings into words best when he said, “he hasn’t left the church, he feels that the church has left him.” He hates how the church is now and sees a lot of change for the worse. My mother said that she feels like she has failed as a parent and both her and my dad said that she hasn’t. But my mom has confused me now. I know in my head and more importantly in my heart that this is what I want and what feels right for me. Anything I would do now that would cause friction between me and my girlfriend would just be to appease my mother and not to appease God which is not right either. I’m going to have a talk with her and my dad soon again when she has had a chance to calm down.

I really don’t know why I’m writing you. You have no idea who I am and I don’t know you either, but when I read your post I felt that since you have a similar situation maybe you would understand where I’m coming from. You seem to be a much more devout catholic then me, so we may deviate on certain things, but I’m just hoping religious views aside did you go through similar feelings as me or am I just rambling on here to the ear of a stranger. I’m sorry to have bugged you randomly but I just needed to write someone who isn’t close to me or this situation. Thank you so much.

So no one on here gave me any advice whatsoever. Which in a way is probably the best thing that could have happened. After I wrote this and re-read it over and over numerous times I realied the only opinion that matters is my own. I guess what this was was a pre-engagement flutter. I’m happy to say that on the morning of 11/14/09 I asked my girlfriend to be my wife. When the time comes for kids and religion later on we’ll discuss and just go from there. We’re not goin to baptize them in either JW or Catholic…teach them the bible…and let them decide whats best for them when they get older. It seems like the best and fairest compromise that we could come up with thusfar.

You know, I have seen a mixed marriage with a JW work. However, it would be a very good idea to talk very specifically about things like holidays, children, church attendance, and religious expectations of each other before the wedding. People often have a lot of expectations about such things that they don’t even realize themselves, because they are just so implicit to them. They cause stress even in non-mixed marriages, and are always best addressed before they are real concrete decisions that must be made NOW.

That is not an option for a Catholic.

A Catholic is **obligated **to baptize and raise their children in the Catholic faith.

Wouldn’t be the first time the girl won over God… but it never works out when that happens… not since the first guy tried it.

God first… the marriage works… God second… :eek:

No. Noone told you to go for it. Because we can’t. Because it’s not right. Yessi told you what to expect. You should know that the marriage is going to be a struggle if in fact you DO hold The Church dear to your heart.

You wanted us to give you a false hope. You didn’t get it.

Hi, I know my answer is late but I only joined up yesterday.

Jehovah’s Witnesses only baptize children who are able to make their own choices anyway (eg, teens) so you’ve already decided (perhaps unintentionally) to raise your children in the JW tradition.

You came to this conclusion after discussing this with a your Catholic priest? While you research this topic, something you might consider looking into, that the suicide rate gets very high among JW’s in mixed marriages. I have encountered 2 couples one JW, the other Catholic have both ended in suicide deaths. The second one was related to a best friend of mine. He mentioned that the family learned that JW’s suicide rate is very high among mixed marriages. It may do you some good to look into this?

I would recommend speaking to someone who knows and has lived this marriage between a Catholic and a JW. Try to find a couple like this in your parish or her kingdom hall. Learning how each one practices ones faith might be in order. But it will be difficult for your fiance to attend an R.C.I.A program to learn about the Catholic faith, because she will be immediately excommunicated from her JW community for doing so.

Never neglect seeking advice from a priest who understands the JW belief. Who can direct you on the right path.

Peace be with you both.

An important point may be how integrated into her own community she really is. In the one case I know where it worked well, the JW was not all that into it, and though his family was more serious, they were still the “bad” JWs in town. (Though really among the kindest and most moral of people.)