Marriage between a Greek Christian Orthodox and an Italian Christian Catholic : LUSENET : Catholic : One Thread

I am Greek and my religion is Christian Orthodox. My significant half is Italian Christian Catholic. If we are to be married should one of us convert religion? How does this proceedure work and what rules do we have to follow? Thank you!

-- Lily Frangou (, February 20, 2003


Hello, Lily. Thank you for your good questions. I will reply to you from the Catholic point-of-view.

Neither of you is required to convert to the other's faith. (I think that your Orthodox pastor will say the same.)

You and your fiance should visit both of your pastors and discuss everything. The Catholic Church has Canon Law and ecumenical directives for her priests to follow in cases like yours.

Provided neither bishop opposes it, the wedding could be in either church building, with both the Catholic and Orthodox priests participating in significant ways. (Intercommunion is also a possibility, if the Orthodox bishop allows it.)

God bless you.

-- J. F. Gecik (, March 02, 2003.

Dear Lily and Father Gecik,

I'm very glad to have found this forum! I'm also a Greek Orthodox Christian, although my attendance at church these days isn't up to par - I'd be a bad Catholic - and my girlfriend is Catholic. We are very serious - I thank God that we've found each other - and we are discussing marriage. I've spoken with my priest several times and there are many options available to you. It is my understanding that the Catholic Church is a little more flexible on the issue of marriage. What I mean to say is that the Catholic church will allow their Priests to visit an orthodox church so that both parties can have their respective spiritual leader/guide present. And, the Orthodox Church is okay with sharing the alter. However, I don't believe the Orthodox Church shares these practices of allowing their priests to perform in a Catholic church, or any other church for that matter. I think it's a bureaucracy thing. Anyway - I have a family friend who had a Greek Catholic priest and Orthodox priest perform their wedding ceremony - and it was beautiful!

Anyway - what I really wanted to bring to your attention are what I feel are the pressing issues that my girlfriend and I are discussing - that of family. The big one: In what church will you raise children? I believe the sacrament of baptism is recognized by both churches. But if you two are planning on going to both churches to learn and practice your Christian faith, the "practicing" can become rather cumbersome for both the children and the parents. What I mean to say is that it's probably much easier to raise your children in one church. We are talking about things like having our children attend both churches and how I would like them to receive Holy Communion in the Orthodox Church. However, Catholic practice focuses on teaching children, Catechism, what it means to be Catholic before they can receive Holy Communion - their First Communion. Raising children as Catholic has demands that Orthodoxs aren't accustom to - such as catechism, first communion, confession. I think these practices, although enriching, might cause confusion for children who attend both churches. I'm sure as you know, being raised in a Greek Orthodox church is more than church - it's a social club - it's as much a learning experience in Greek heritage and the social fabric as it is in faith - in short the two have become so intertwined that it's hard to tell which is which.

I hoping that my girlfriend and I can find comprise and solutions to these issues, and if you have already dealt with all this and have some insight - please enlighten me! Father Gecik - please feel free to correct any misnomers and such - I'm no expert. Lily, I think that in the end the roots of "the Church" are the same. If you look to the teachings of Christ, and not necessarily the dogma and symantic arguments of the two churches, you'll find the message is the same. What I keep reminding myself of is that if it weren't for human nature -i.e. our fallible ways, the churches would be one church.

Good luck to you two! Xaristismos!

-- Konstantine (, March 25, 2003.

Hello, Konstantine.

I'm have to start by telling you that I am not a Catholic priest and that I don't have any experience with situations like yours. As a result, I don't really have any specific advice for you.

The only thing I can suggest is that you and your girlfriend have a long, careful conversation about all these matters with her Catholic pastor. If she is a Latin/Western-church Catholic, then you probably should have another (3-way) conversation with a local Byzantine Catholic priest (especially one with Greek heritage). I'm sure that such a priest would have many insights and probably some experience with cases like yours.

The only other piece of information I can give you is that your girlfriend will have to comply with Catholic Canon Law by promising to do all that she can to raise your children as Catholics.

God bless you.
John Gecik

-- J. F. Gecik (, March 27, 2003.

The Catholic Church recognizes Greek Orthodox baptisms as valid, but the converse may or may not be true, depending on the particular Greek Orthodox Church involved. The problem is that some Orthodox follow the requirements of proper baptismal form very closely, and don't believe that pouring (as opposed to triple immersion) is an acceptable alternative.

-- Mark (, May 05, 2003.

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