Marrying a non-Catholic

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han

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I know it is okay to date non-catholics, but when the subject of marriage comes up, how do you address the issue of the children being catholic?
 
When you marry in the Catholic church, even if your spouse is not Catholic, you promise to raise your children Catholic. I would suggest some pre-marital counseling with a priest even before making a final decision on marrying.
 
The catholic is required to promise to do all in his or her power to raise the children catholc, except if it would destroy the peace in the marriage (sorry I can’t remember the exact wording), and the non-catholic has to be made aware of the seriousness of this promise.

God bless.
 
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han:
I know it is okay to date non-catholics, but when the subject of marriage comes up, how do you address the issue of the children being catholic?
This issue came up before I asked my fiancee to marry me. She was ELCA Lutheran (Catholic now). I guess I just told her that when I have kids, they HAVE to be raised Catholic…this was just an issue I would NOT budge on when considering a marriage. She was very open to ALL Christian faiths, so she took it well.

My reasoning is that I believe in an absolute truth and I believe this truth lies within the Catholic Church. Most protestants don’t necessarily see their own churches in exactly this way. They tend to see things in terms of primary and secondary doctrines…the primary ones being ones that you HAVE to believe and the secondary ones being ones that its ok to disagree on. They also tend to believe that private interpretations of Scripture are ok…that if you pray to the Holy Spirit, you will be infallably guided to all truths of the Bible, even though different people will come to different conclusions.

SO, this being the case, why is every protestant interpretation of Scripture ok, but the Catholic interpretation not ok? Since my fiancee, being protestant, believed that any Christian interpretation of Scripture is true, why isn’t the Catholic interpretation equally true and acceptable?

So it was rather by default that we came to the conclusion that we would raise our children Catholic. She believed that truth could lie anywhere in the multiples of Christian churches. I believe that the fullness of truth only lies within the Catholic Chruch. Since both of our beliefs included the Catholic Church, that is the one we chose.
 
The priest will bring it up in pre-Cana…along with scads of other topics that will make you queasy, but you’ll be thankful in the end. I (the Catholic) had to sign a paper promising I’d do whatever possible to raise any kids Catholic. My non-religious husband thankfully had no problem with it. Good luck!
 
I told mine it was either my way, or the highway.

Thankfully he loved me enough to eventually decide my way was just fine if that’s what was going to make me happy. It took a lot of courage and conviction to stand up for what I believed in for him to realize this was how it was going to be.

I’ll be honest with you. It wasn’t easy at first. It took lots of praying on my part for him to soften up and realize our future kids would need a spiritual upbringing instead of just letting them decide on their own :banghead:

Like Fairy, mine now has no problem with it.
 
I would urge you to read “the Role of the Chirstian Family in the Modern World” (Familliaris Consortio) and “Christian Marriage” (Casti Connubii) , encylicals by the Holy Father. (Pius XI and John Paul II). You will find that the parents are the prime educators of the children, NOT THE CHURCH. Note that the word is “parents”, plural, meaning both. So in this context, you cannot raise your children as Catholics unless both parents are Catholic. When you read Casti Conubii, you will find that the Church forbids “mixed marriages”. But don’t take my word for it, read the encylicals and remember that they are infallible and part of the teaching of the Church. An interesting statistic on marriage is that those who follow the teachings of the Church, never get divorced and the marriages mature and grow in love. While those that pick and choose which teachings they accept have a 1 in 7 failure rate and the marriages are less than what God intends for us to enjoy. My wife and I have been married happily for 47 years, my sister-in-law and husband will celebrate their 50th, and my brother-in law-and his wife are approaching 48 years. We are all practicing and active Catholics.
 
My wife is Roman Catholic and I am Lutheran. We were married in a Catholic ceremony. When we went through pre cana (sp?), the monsignor encouraged her to actively learn about my church so that she could understand the similarities and points of divergence. He didn’t tell her or me to convert, but he did recognize that our marriage would be stronger if we understood both churches.

Regarding our children, neither I nor wife had to promise to raise them Catholic. Rather, my wife was required to promise to do her best to raise them Catholic, but not at the risk of our marriage. We baptized them in a Catholic church, and I had no problem with that. (Hey, even Martin Luther was baptized in a Catholic Church, and so long as the Word and the water are present, it’s A-OK.)

We currently send them to a Lutheran pre-school, and we attend an ELCA church more often than a Catholic church. Nevertheless, they are being exposed to both churches and in the end I believe that it can lead to a better understanding of both. The churches are not as different as a lot of people think.

MartyL
 
My wife is Catholic and I am Lutheran. In pre-cana (sp?), the monsignor told my wife to learn about the tenets of my faith, and she did not have to promise to raise them catholic at all costs.

I encourage anybody in your circumstances to take our monsignor’s advice. Learn about the non-catholic faith. What are the similarities and differences? What differences matter to the issues at hand? For example, I saw some heated posts regarding the style of crosses used by Catholics and Protestants. We have both in our house, and a nun-friend gave us a “protestant” style. That type of symbolic difference doesn’t matter. On the other hand, some differences might matter more to one church than the other. A Catholic church would not recognize a Lutheran baptism, but unlike some protestant churches (including some Lutheran), mine has no problem with a Catholic baptism. (Remember, even Martin Luther was baptized in a Catholic church!) Where we were married also was not an issue. Marriage is not a sacrament to most Protestants, but it is to Catholics. Therefore, I had no issue about being married using a Catholic rite.

So by understanding our faith(s), my wife and I can navigate some issues very effectively. But you won’t know unless you put suppress Catholic chauvinism and learn about the other’s faith.

The tolerance might even spread to the families. I am the first “Reformed Catholic” in her family. They have learned more about my church, and the process, their own. Her parents will always remain Catholic, but they understand the “issues” better and are more tolerant. Don’t tell anybody, but they’ve even attended a Lutheran service or two.

You never know: uniting God’s people may happen one marriage at a time.

MartyL
 
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BruceH:
You will find that the parents are the prime educators of the children, NOT THE CHURCH. Note that the word is “parents”, plural, meaning both. So in this context, you cannot raise your children as Catholics unless both parents are Catholic.
Thanks Bruce, now that that’s settled I can relax as a parent and let my son do whatever he pleases since there really is no hope for him to be raised as a Catholic. :ehh:

In all seriousness though, as a Catholic who is married to a woman with no religious affiliation, it is definitely not something to be taken lightly. We were married at a time when I felt “enlightened” and my faith was not nearly as important to me as it is today. We have a great, happy marriage, don’t use birth-control, and my wife even tells my son “God bless you” and helps him to make the sign of the cross.

But it is indeed sad that we can’t share our faith as a family as much as I would like us to. In many ways I feel like a single parent when it comes to the education of my son (and hopefully future siblings), and participation in Church functions. Whether our marriage preparation classes glossed over this or I chose to gloss over it, I do not remember for certain, but I wish I had considered it more carefully. It’s a strange situation. I think we have a good marriage and a good family, but I sometimes wonder what it would’ve been like if I had gone through the pain of breaking off our relationship and seeking a Catholic woman for a wife.

I’m doing the best I can under the circumstances I put myself in. My son is just over a year old and has already been baptized, attends Sunday Mass, and occasionally daily Mass as well. I realize we will probably have more difficult challenges in raising our son as a Catholic than we would if my wife was also Catholic, but I’m at least going to go ahead and give a try. Hopefully, with your prayers, I’ll prove you wrong. Otherwise, the only other options seem to be divorce or the coerced conversion of my wife. I think I’ll stick with plan A.
 
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han:
I know it is okay to date non-catholics, but when the subject of marriage comes up, how do you address the issue of the children being catholic?
It may be “ok” to date non-Catholics in some people’s opinions, but I think it is seriously imprudent. I know people who have made it work, however I believe that you should not be unequally yoked. Marriage is hard enough without religious differences. The man should be the spiritual head of the household, and a house divided is a bad idea.

I choose not to date outside the Catholic faith because I do not want to be confronted with that issue. I have friends whose non-Catholic spouses promised that the Catholic could raise the children in the Church only to renig after they had children.
 
I was a (poorly catechized) convert of 2 years when I married my believing, however unbaptized, non-religious husband. I was in love and under the haze of “it’ll be okay, we love each other!” It was not until I was married for 2 years that my faith bloomed and I learned the truth and the catechism. We now have two children and a third on the way. I love my husband dearly and we get along, he is a good father. However there is just something MISSING: he does not share my FAITH!!! He is in no way capable of passing on the beloved true faith to our precious children!! This is something you just can’t really think about thoroughly until your children are born and are growing up. I receive no mutual encouragement from him for praying or teaching the faith. He does attend Mass with us, but only half-heartedly, I am not complaining for his example will at least impact the children. I would encourage anyone who is Catholic with faith the size of a mustard seed, DO NOT MARRY anyone who isn’t Catholic! At least come to an understanding with the fiance’ of how important it will be for you to actively pray together and attend Mass together!!
 
In my humble opinion, I think that when you are dating someone religion is a very important aspect of dating. Afterall, dating is the precursor to marriage. You should be dating to ultimately find your spouse. So… that being said. I think non-Catholics are fine as long as the person has a strong Christian belief. In my own personal experience… my mother was Catholic, my father Lutheran until I was 11 years old and we were both confirmed together. My husband was raised Lutheran and converted to Catholicism 3 years ago after 3 kids and 13 years of marriage. The key to both of these men in my life was that they were already practicing Christians. My father was very devout and after several years of learning and going to church with my mother EVERY Sunday, he finally converted. My brother, sisters and I were all raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools, that was a must with my mother.

My husband was a devout Christian as well, but he made a promise to me he would go to church with me and that our children would be raised Catholic. I promised not to push him into the faith but if he chose to convert at a later time, I would be overjoyed. He received the Sacraments with my middle son who made his First Communion at the same time. My husband now has become an EME and helps me teach 5th grade RE. He thanks me almost every day for helping him to come to Catholicism and helping him to gain eternal salvation.
So, it can work out even when you don’t marry a Catholic. In fact in my family out of the 4 of us only one married a Catholic and he NEVER goes to Mass much less participate in properly raising his children Catholic. My other 2 siblings and I married non-Catholics who have all converted and attend Mass regularly and are involved in their parishes and the proper faith formation for their children.
 
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SarahR:
The catholic is required to promise to do all in his or her power to raise the children catholc, except if it would destroy the peace in the marriage (sorry I can’t remember the exact wording), and the non-catholic has to be made aware of the seriousness of this promise.
What about in the case of a Royal Marriage? I ask because this has happened before. Prince Michael of Kent (an Anglican obviously) married RC Marie-Christine von Reibnitz, and their two children, being so close to the throne, were raised as Anglicans.

More recently, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands married a Catholic woman named Máxima Zorreguieta. They just recently celebrated the baptism of their daughter (a future Queen) Catharina-Amalia. I seriously doubt that little Catharina-Amalia is being raised as an RC.

Then there are Anglican Royals standing as a sponsor for RC royals, etc., etc., etc.

TIA

Becky 👋
 
25 years ago, I was a liberal Methodist and married a liberal Methodist. By God’s grace and mercy, I joined the Catholic Church 8 years ago. So now I have a mixed marriage. It’s been HARD, and I wouldn’t wish a mixed marriage on my worst enemy.
So if you are thinking of marrying someone outside the Faith, my advice is to avoid that, especially for the sake of your children (which is a major part of what marriage is all about anyway).
Having said that, I’d still convert to the Catholic Faith if I had it to do over again, because it’s worth infinitely more than all the trials.
 
Mom is super Catholic, and married my dad who was a non practicing Methodist, they were married for like 21 years before dad converted and they’ve been together ever since and thru my whole life and I turned out ok. I don’t believe difference in religion should be a decisive factor in dating/marriage less we become bigoted.
 
I’m glad you turned out OK. It sounds as if your parents did a good job. My husband told me on the day AFTER I joined the Church, “I hate the Catholic Church.” That was hard to hear.
But our children were then ages 9 and 12. Now I hear the same thing from my sons. So I often cry for all three of them at Mass. But just today I read the most encouraging thing in a book called Heart of Compassion, by Gerald Vann: “God hearkened to the tears of Monika.” I have confidence He will hearken to mine. Praised be Jesus’ holy name!
 
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Cathy:
I’m glad you turned out OK. It sounds as if your parents did a good job. My husband told me on the day AFTER I joined the Church, “I hate the Catholic Church.” That was hard to hear.
But our children were then ages 9 and 12. Now I hear the same thing from my sons. So I often cry for all three of them at Mass. But just today I read the most encouraging thing in a book called Heart of Compassion, by Gerald Vann: “God hearkened to the tears of Monika.” I have confidence He will hearken to mine. Praised be Jesus’ holy name!
Yeah I actually think I turned out great so to speak, me ma’s got great devotion to God, the Church and Mary and stuff so I still grew up with it from the RCC perspective. I wouldn’t have it any other way actually, I’ve been to many P.stant churches due to family being P.stant and all but their faith is so dry and empty, RCC for me always had such mystery due to it being so old and stuff, I think it’s possible that even w/o RCC parents I would have wound up RC anyways. The RCC is just too… tightly bound together rather than the rampant splintering and spin offs of P.stant churches.

But I still won’t let my feelings for Christ and the RCC to stop me from devoting myself to any girl who loves me back like that, wether she be atheist, Mormon, Islamic, Bhuddist, or a Scientologist I don’t care (I’d try to convert her for sure) but Christ did teach understanding and compassion and a complete lack of judgment from us on our fellow (wo)man so to me limiting myself like that seems too bigoted (should there be two G’s in bigoted?).
 
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milimac:
. In many ways I feel like a single parent when it comes to the education of my son (and hopefully future siblings), and participation in Church functions.

I’m doing the best I can under the circumstances I put myself in. My son is just over a year old and has already been baptized, attends Sunday Mass, and occasionally daily Mass as well. I realize we will probably have more difficult challenges in raising our son as a Catholic than we would if my wife was also Catholic, but I’m at least going to go ahead and give a try.
Mili–For our Father’s Day homily last weekend the priest gave some statistics saying that if just the mother practices religion, the child has a 1 in 20 chance of carrying on the faith. If just the father practices, the chances reach 1 in 3. I’ll mention you and your family in my prayers, but statistically, you’re doing ok I think!
 
MartyL thought that the Catholic Church would not recognize a Lutheran baptism. However, as long as the Lutheran baptism uses water and the words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” my understanding is that this is recognized as valid by the Catholic Church. It may be that someone who is baptized in another church and then converts to the Catholic faith may be given a provisional baptism, but this is not to say their original baptism was necessarily invalid. My baptismal certificate from the Methodist Church was accepted when I joined the Catholic Church, and I was not even given a provisional baptism.

In these days of questionable baptismal rites in some churches (for example using the words, “In the name of the Creator, the Christ and the Holy Spirit”) the validity of the rite may be legitimately called into question, so a provisional baptism isn’t a bad idea.
 
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