Hindu boy marrying a Catholic girl


I am a Hindu boy originally from India, and have been dating an American Catholic girl, who is very spiritual, devout and law abiding. I am not very religious, so I don’t feel very strongly about my religion, but I don’t want to convert. However, I am open to go to the Church and masses with her. I have a few questions if someone can kindly answer:

  1. What is the Church’s stand on such a relationship? I am planning to marry by Catholic Christian rituals, and also Hindu rituals, one followed by the other. Does the Church allow this?

  2. She insists on raising the kids Catholic. I know how much her faith means to her, and that is probably the most important thing to her, but raising the kids Catholic will be something that my parents cannot accept, and I cannot go against them. I myself will probably will not be very happy about this. Is there a way out in this situation?

  3. Hypothetically, if my kids are Catholic, will they be allowed to participate in Indian Hindu ceremonies? Also, if they are Catholic, can someone please suggest situations, where it will be very conflicting for the kid(s) to be a part of both of the religions?

Thank you.

If you believe that she is the one for you, then follow your heart… put you love and life in her hands and let her guide you…

Welcome to the forums! And I’m sure you will be thanked for caring enough to pose these questions for the benefit of your future relationship.

I can’t answer all your questions, but here’s the ones I think I know the answer to.

  1. A Catholic can marry a non-Catholic in a Catholic Church. This will probably require a dispensation from the local Bishop, and some joint participation in some “marriage” classes. I"m not sure if participation in a Hindu ceremony is allowed. A Catholic ceremony is strongly desired because it “includes God” and we believe it confers grace on the marriage, which helps it through tough times.

  2. To be married in a Catholic Church, the non-Catholic needs to agree to raise the children as Catholics. This is not negotiable. What objections do your parents have to this? Perhaps this isn’t as bad as they think.

  3. I am a Catholic who married a non-practicing Buddhist. She eventually converted to Catholicism. There were instances where our children went to Buddhist funerals, and participated in some of the rituals. The children would not be allowed to attend ceremonies where they would be required to offer worship to a Hindu god, but some rituals involving e.g. reverence to deceased ancestors, and the like, would probably be OK. I’m not sure what Hindus do, so I can’t offer any more suggestions.

To get the best answers, you should contact your local Catholic priest, and he can fill you in on the details.

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Item number two represents the biggest reason why most faiths do not encourage such marriages. From the Catholic perspective, there really is no compromise here. If you agree to marry her, then you must agree to raise your children as Catholics, to the best of your ability.

I suspect if you are a Brahmin, then you face the same problem on your end, even though you do not believe.

But, as you say, you seem rather agnostic about it, so your primary obstacle is familial. That’s a huge problem you must deal with if you marry this woman. If you do this, then perhaps you should consider whether her faith is to be placed on the same bargaining table as your parents’ expectations of you. If you do not believe those expectations have any merit, then you ought not to place those expectations upon her, for they truly are not to be compared.

Yet if you do still adhere to Hinduism, even if only lightly, then that’s going to be a very difficult choice for you to make. Obviously people here will say you should convert to Catholicism. Hopefully you do, but don’t do it for the sake of marriage. Do it for the sake of truth. Seek truth in this spiritual battle happening behind your personal life first and foremost.

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The Church does not generally encourage active participation in non-Catholic religious rituals. She would have to speak to her priest to receive specific guidance in this instance.

  1. She insists on raising the kids Catholic. I know how much her faith means to her, and that is probably the most important thing to her, but raising the kids Catholic will be something that my parents cannot accept, and I cannot go against them. I myself will probably will not be very happy about this. Is there a way out in this situation?

No. Part of being a Catholic parent is to raise Catholic children.

  1. Hypothetically, if my kids are Catholic, will they be allowed to participate in Indian Hindu ceremonies? Also, if they are Catholic, can someone please suggest situations, where it will be very conflicting for the kid(s) to be a part of both of the religions?

They need to be one or the other. It is not possible to be both Catholic and Hindu, since there are too many conflicting beliefs - the Catholic belief that there is only one God, versus the Hindu belief in many gods, just to start with.

Catholics are allowed to marry outside of the faith, but it is not encouraged for several reasons.

First of all, every Catholic goes through periods in their life where their faith is challenged and weakened (most commonly when going through hard times). In an ideal situation, the person’s spouse will be able to hold them up and help the family get through the tough times without losing the faith. For example, when mom is bone-tired and she doesn’t feel like getting up and getting the kids ready for Mass, would it be better to have a husband who helps get things ready and encourages his wife to meet their obligation, or a husband who rolls over and says, “Works for me!”? This is what St. Paul meant when he sad that spouses should be equally yoked. It takes a husband and a wife to guide a Catholic family.

Secondly, a Catholic is absolutely obligated to raise their children in the Catholic faith. This must be understood by the spouse and it is a large committment and will preclude the children from participating in alot of Hindu rituals. (Spectating at funerals, weddings, and the like would probably be acceptable.)

In addition, a Catholic woman is supposed to submit to her husband which her husband is supposed to submit to God. Being married to a non-Christian puts a Catholic wife in a very difficult position.

Lastly, there are probably any number of religious difference that could be obstacles for you. For example, are you aware of the Church’s expectation that Catholics be open to life, and what that entails? Would you be willing to accept this teaching?

If you are interested in marrying this woman, then you should probably look into taking RCIA classes at your fiancee’s parish. These classes explain the teachings of the Church, so you would know what is required of your fiance. If you do decide to get married, you would be required to meet with the priest at take some sort of pre-cana classes, which would prepare you for marriage. There are lots of people who have managed to make this sort of relationship work, but it isn’t without its difficulties.

Ah. I would love to have a Hindu girl. I love Hinduism and Sri Krishna. And the Christ. Love like Krishna and the gopis!

This is so true, and something I really didn’t discover until I got married. My wife and I are able to support each other and encourage each other in difficult times. When those doubts arise, or the weakness and temptation to, say, not go to Mass, just a little bit of willingness in the other person brings the whole structure down. What a person needs is unshakeable resolve to do the right thing at all times.

Actually, I don’t believe this is true. The Catholic in a mixed faith couple is the one who makes this commitment. The non-Catholic is informed of it but does not have to commit as well.

I am validly and sacramentally married in the Church to a baptized non-Catholic Christian, and my agreement was the only one required in this regard. Is the requirement different if the non-Catholic person is also not a Christian?

Whatever the case may be, even if the OP’s agreement is not required the practical difficulties still remain: his Catholic girlfriend will need to make the commitment to raise any children resulting from the marriage as Catholics, to the best of her ability. If he has problems with this but really wants to marry this young lady anyway, now is the time to discuss the issue!

There’s two really good ways to handle this:

  • Raising your kids as Hindu with an awareness of the Catholic faith.
  • Raising your kids as Catholic with an awareness of the Hindu faith.

It shouldn’t be black or white.

Here is the information from the CCC which relates to this subject:

Mixed marriages and disparity of cult

1633 In many countries the situation of a mixed marriage (marriage between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic) often arises. It requires particular attention on the part of couples and their pastors. A case of marriage with disparity of cult (between a Catholic and a non-baptized person) requires even greater circumspection.

1634 Difference of confession between the spouses does not constitute an insurmountable obstacle for marriage, when they succeed in placing in common what they have received from their respective communities, and learn from each other the way in which each lives in fidelity to Christ. But the difficulties of mixed marriages must not be underestimated. They arise from the fact that the separation of Christians has not yet been overcome. The spouses risk experiencing the tragedy of Christian disunity even in the heart of their own home. Disparity of cult can further aggravate these difficulties. Differences about faith and the very notion of marriage, but also different religious mentalities, can become sources of tension in marriage, especially as regards the education of children. The temptation to religious indifference can then arise.

1635 According to the law in force in the Latin Church, a mixed marriage needs for liceity the express permission of ecclesiastical authority.137 In case of disparity of cult an express dispensation from this impediment is required for the validity of the marriage.138 This permission or dispensation presupposes that both parties know and do not exclude the essential ends and properties of marriage; and furthermore that the Catholic party confirms the obligations, which have been made known to the non-Catholic party, of preserving his or her own faith and ensuring the baptism and education of the children in the Catholic Church.139

1636 Through ecumenical dialogue Christian communities in many regions have been able to put into effect a common pastoral practice for mixed marriages. Its task is to help such couples live out their particular situation in the light of faith, overcome the tensions between the couple’s obligations to each other and towards their ecclesial communities, and encourage the flowering of what is common to them in faith and respect for what separates them.

1637 In marriages with disparity of cult the Catholic spouse has a particular task: "For the unbelieving husband is consecrated through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is consecrated through her husband."140 It is a great joy for the Christian spouse and for the Church if this “consecration” should lead to the free conversion of the other spouse to the Christian faith.141 Sincere married love, the humble and patient practice of the family virtues, and perseverance in prayer can prepare the non-believing spouse to accept the grace of conversion.

:thumbsup: Gold Star to you.

Don’t try to sabotage the OP and his girlfriend by giving them wrong information.


I said “awareness”. They can acknowledge and respect it and be taught basic aspects like the basic idea of it, but not necessarily do some highly incompatible syncretic thing and be raised in both. It would probably, in the best interests of the marriage, be best to raise them Catholic, though. I don’t know.

Agreed. The couple cannot deny the two religious heritages. It is probably the best bet for them to be raised Catholic because the girlfriend is more devout than the poster. However, the children should be aware of and respect their grandparents’ faith. God grief… Gandhi was a Hindu. It isn’t like there cannot be respect there.

Also, in India, weddings are very important, so to appease the parents there should be a ceremony. The couple should do both. They can have a Church wedding as well as having all the necessary Indian ceremonies.

Your girlfriend must follow the guidance of the Catholic Church in order to remain a faithful Catholic. She would need to obtain a dispensation (permission) from her bishop to marry a non-Catholic, which would not given until the parish pastor discerns with the two of you that her faith would not be harmed.

You do not seem to have the same understanding of marriage that a Catholic would have, if your allegiance to your parents is more important than your allegiance to your wife. It is a huge “red flag” (a danger warning signal) about your relationship that you would defer to the desires of your parents, over the desires of your wife. You claim that your Hindu faith means little to you at this time but it actually seems to mean a whole lot to you, because you seem to be expecting your children, even if Catholic, to participate in the Hindu religion. Raising children with two faiths is raising them in neither faith.

During the process of marriage preparation, both of you would need to demonstrate an understanding about fidelity and permanence, and being open to children, without using contraception. The priest would help the two of you address the differences in expectations because of your religious and cultural differences; if you are not willing to adjust your attitude about giving allegiance to your wife (over that toward your parents), and if you expect your girlfriend to conform her values to yours, then you would not be respecting her religious beliefs.

Religious faith is not merely participating in rituals, it is a commitment. It’s not “sometimes I’ll be Catholic, and sometimes I’ll not be one.” To be an active Catholic Christian is to maintain a relationship with God and with the Church, and it is a daily lifestyle based on beliefs and morals. It is not a realistic expectation on your part to expect Catholic children to abandon their faith for even a minute, to accomodate you or your family. Religion isn’t like that.

Most Catholic dioceses post the Marriage Norms on their website. In another post I will paste a few sections from one diocesan website, which seem pertinent to your situation.

The following conditions must be met to permit a mixed marriage or dispense from disparity of cult (canon 1125):

  • The Catholic party must promise to remove dangers of defecting from the Catholic faith.
  • The Catholic party must promise to do all in his or her power to baptize and raise all offspring in the Catholic Church.
  • The non-Catholic party must be informed of the promises that the Catholic party must make; however, no formal written or oral promise is required of the non-Catholic party.
  • Both parties must be instructed on the purposes and properties of marriage, which neither of the parties is to exclude. “[This instruction] is in addition to the customary marriage preparation program and should be done on a direct and individual basis” (NCCB, Faithful to Each Other Forever, p. 81)./

The Catholic party is to be made aware of the following obligations regarding children:

  • That they are to be baptized within the first weeks after birth (canon 867, §1)
  • That they are to be prepared for and receive the sacrament of penance before first Holy Communion (canon 914)
  • That they are to be prepared for and receive the sacraments of confirmation and first Holy Communion at the appropriate times (canons 890 and 914)
  • That they are to receive catechesis in the Catholic faith throughout their youth

It is not permissible to agree in advance to raise some children as Catholics and others as members of another Church or ecclesial community, or to raise the children in both communities (or neither community), or to allow them to choose for themselves when they are of age. Canon 1366 threatens penal sanctions for Catholic parents who willingly allow their children to be baptized or raised in a non-Catholic religion (see also Ecumenical Directory 151).

The following are the words that the Catholic is to promise in the presence of a priest or deacon either orally or in writing: “I reaffirm my faith in Jesus Christ and, with God’s help, intend to continue living that faith in the Catholic Church. I promise to do all in my power to share the faith I have received with our children by having them baptized and reared as Catholics” (NCCB, Statement on Mixed Marriages 5).

The priest or deacon is to certify that the Catholic has made the declaration and promise and that the non-Catholic has been informed of this requirement. This is done in the following words: “The required promise and declaration have been made by the Catholic in my presence. The non-Catholic has been informed of this requirement so that it is certain that he /she is aware of the promise and obligation on the part of the Catholic” (NCCB, Statement on Mixed Marriages 9).

An anti-Catholic attitude on the part of the non-Catholic or his or her family, lack of respect for the Catholic’s religious convictions or practice, and differences of attitude about the frequency of religious practice or church support are issues that should be resolved prior to the marriage.

Since in disparity of cult marriages the spouses do not share a common Christian faith, their religious differences and the tensions arising from them are likely to be more acute. This must be acknowledged and fully treated early in the marriage preparation process.

If the non-Catholic is indifferent to religious matters, the Catholic should be aware of how difficult it will be to maintain religious observance and see to the religious formation of children without the support of his or her spouse.

I am planning to marry by Catholic Christian rituals, and also Hindu rituals, one followed by the other. Does the Church allow this?

Absolutely not.

Canon 1127.3 It is forbidden to have, either before or after the canonical celebration in accordance with 1127.1, another religious celebration of the same marriage for the purpose of giving or renewing matrimonial consent. Likewise, there is not to be a religious celebration in which the catholic assistant and a non-catholic minister, each performing his own rite, ask for the consent of the parties.

A couple cannot be married twice.
Having a second religious ceremony would be proclaiming that the couple didn’t truly mean it when they made their vows during the first religious ceremony didn’t matter.

A wedding ceremony is not just a ritual to appease family and friends.

There can only be one celebration and the children must be raised Catholic. The children will not be properly allowed to participate in non-Christian worship because of the scandal (bad example) of religious indifferentism. Catholics teaching is that it is the duty of man to worship God by believing and practicing the one true religion. The Catholic believes that the one true religion is that of the Catholic Church.