Requirements/Options for marriage of Catholic and unbaptized agnostic : LUSENET : Catholic : One Thread

I am an agnostic (raised vaguely Jewish and Presbyterian) who is planning to marry a Catholic. Since I am not religious, I don't need anything more than a civil ceremony for myself, but for my fiance I want to have a marriage that will be recognized and approved by the Church. I have attended mass with him several times and found the services educational and enjoyable. Though it may be a possibility in the future, I do not plan to convert now. As an agnostic, I do not fully believe in God or the rest of the Church's teachings, and I think it would be disrespectful to pretend to do so. I am open to a wedding in a Church, with a priest, especially since I have no religion of my own I would wish to hold the service in. I am also willing to raise our children Catholic and to learn about the religion with the possibility of someday converting. I am wondering what kind of ceremony is held in these circumstances and if the marriage would be considered fully valid by the Church. Although I want the wedding to be recognized by the Catholic Church, I also want to avoid offending guests and family members who are non-Catholic, non-Christian, or non-religious. Is it possible to choose Scripture readings that are more along a general moral line than a specifically religious one, and likewise for the sermon? Is it required or allowed to include a Mass in this kind of wedding? I also would like to know if it is possible to include some traditions (but not neccessarily the religious aspects) from my family's Jewish background. Although my family is not very religous, I think they would be upset if I seemed to abandon all aspects of my background. Also, what kind of pre-wedding classes/counseling do I/we need to undergo, and what do I need to agree to (in regards to children, contraception, etc)? Thank you very much for your advice

-- Emily Cohen (, July 10, 2003


-- (_@_._), July 11, 2003.

Hello, Emily.

You seem like such a nice person. It was a pleasure to read your message. I will pray for you to follow the path that God has prepared for you, both in your marriage and in your spiritual life. (He really does exist!)

To be honest with you, Emily, every single item you asked about is the kind of thing that your fiance's Catholic pastor would have expertise at answering during your first meeting with him. I can give you some tentative and incomplete answers, but you should get more firm and complete answers from the priest.

Your marriage, which (depending on circumstances) could take place in a rite within, or outside of, a Mass, would be presumed to be valid by the Church. I don't know if you were ever baptized in a Presbyterian ceremony, so I can't say whether or not yours would be a sacramental rite and marriage.

Please don't worry too much about offending guests. If they are non-Catholic and come to a Catholic church, they will be expecting to hear something with which they may disagree. I think that they can tolerate it. The priest will show the two of you a series of authorized scriptural readings from which you can make choices. The chances are that you will be able to find, among them, readings that are meaningful to you and pleasing to the congregation.

The priest is likely to preach a homily -- speaking about the readings and how they relate to the marital state on which you are embarking. You can present your concerns to him. I don't know how he will react.

It may not be possible to incorporate "traditions ... from [your] family's Jewish background", though these may be very good to observer at a gathering outside the church (reception or other). A well-trained priest will make the right decision about this. Idea ... If you have a relative or close friend who is a Jewish rabbi, ask the priest if he may be permitted to offer a "reflection" at some point in the ceremony.

Pre-marriage preparation (meetings or classes) vary from place to place, so the priest will have to let you know what the local Catholic bishop requires.

You will be informed about what must be true for a valid marriage to begin on your wedding day -- e.g., permanence, faithfulness, fruitfulness, etc. -- but I do not believe that you must make an promises other than your vows/consent during the ceremony. During the time of your preparation, though, your fiance will have to promise (1) not to abandon his Catholicism and (2) to do all in his power to raise your children as Catholics.

God bless you.

-- J. F. Gecik (, July 11, 2003.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ