promise to raise children catholic : LUSENET : Catholic : One Thread

I'm a Protestant marrying a Catholic, and was wondering if someone could give me the exact wording of the document my fiance will have to sign in regards to doing the best she can in order to raise our children Catholic. It's a big deal for me, because although I wouldn't necessarily have a problem with the kids being raised Catholic, I do have a problem with the Catholic church having a problem with the kids being raised Protestant. I think it's a shame that we can't confess Christ together and recognize each other both as valid churches through which God spreads the good news of His son throughout the earth.

Anyway, I'm not trying to start a big debate. Just wondering if I could see the exact wording of that document so I know what I have to come to terms with before we move forward.

-- Bob Burke (, May 04, 2004


Response to promise to raise childen catholic

Dear Bob,

If you call the local diocesan office which deals with such matters, they can give you the relevant information. The statement you sign, if it is required that you sign anything, is simple and straightforward. It doesn't go into any great detail. The office you need to contact is listed in the phone book under "Diocese of ...". The office may be called Marital Affairs (not used too often these days for obvious reasons), Family Ministry, Life and Family, or something similar. Or, call the main number for the diocese, describe what you need, and ask to be connected.

I must say though, for one marrying a Catholic you appear to have little concept of what the Catholic Church is - and therefore how your fiancee views her Church, if she is in fact a knowledgeable, practicing Catholic. The Church Christ founded as the channel of salvation for all mankind cannot "recognize" any other church as valid, because no other church IS valid. Christ founded ONE Church for the human race, and clearly stated His divine will that all men are to be members of that one true Church. Never did He suggest that the idea of men later founding churches of their own, teaching doctrine in opposition to the truths of His own Church, was "valid". It is not. It is in direct opposition to the stated will of God Himself, Who warned us it would happen (2 Tim 4:3-4). His Church has a problem with children being raised Protestant because Christ said the truth would set men free - the actual truth, not whatever set of beliefs denomination A or B or C thinks is the truth.

-- Paul M. (, May 04, 2004.

Bob, don't ever pay attention to people who say things like, "your Church is not valid" or "your Church is in direct opposition to the will of God." Those statements will be destructive to your faith if you buy into them. People who say those things can tell you the definition of Christian love out of a book, but really haven't a clue how to live it. Please know what the Roman Catholic Church really teaches.

Forgive me for cutting and pasting this from another of my posts.

JPII has said on many occasions, including one quoted in L'Osservatore Romano on June 10th, 1980, that Protestants share in the Apostolic Mission of the Roman Catholic Church. I don’t know why, if JPII has worked so hard to unify all Christians, that some people work so hard to destroy our relationship with our Protestant brothers and sisters.

Look to the Encyclicals…

UNITATIS REDINTEGRATIO (3) “It follows that the separated Churches and Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church.”

UNITATIS REDINTEGRATIO (4) “Nevertheless, the divisions among Christians prevent the Church from attaining the fullness of catholicity proper to her, in those of her sons who, though attached to her by Baptism, are yet separated from full communion with her. Furthermore, the Church herself finds it more difficult to express in actual life her full catholicity in all her bearings.”

UT UNUM SINT (46) “Conversely, in specific cases and in particular circumstances, Catholics too can request these same sacraments from ministers of Churches in which these sacraments are valid.”

LUMEN GENTIUM (13) and CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (836) “All men are called to this catholic unity of the People of God…And to it, in different ways, belong or are ordered: the Catholic faithful, others who believe in Christ, and finally all mankind, called by God’s grace to salvation.”

God Bless

-- EC (, May 04, 2004.

From STATEMENT ON THE IMPLEMENTATION of the Apostolic Letter on Mixed Marriages:

5. The declaration and promise by the Catholic, necessary for dispensation from the impediment to a mixed marriage (either mixed religion or disparity of worship), shall be made, in the following words or their substantial equivalent:

"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."

6. The declaration and promise are made in the presence of a priest or deacon either orally or in writing as the Catholic prefers.

7. The form of the declaration and promise is not altered in the case of the marriage of a Catholic with another baptized Christian, but the priest should draw the attention of the Catholic to the communion of spiritual benefits in such a Christian marriage. The promise and declaration should be made in the light of the "certain, though imperfect, communion" of the non-Catholic with the Catholic Church because of the belief in Christ and baptism (cf. Decree on Ecumenism, number 3).


The above is still in force because of this complementary norm.

-- Mark (, May 04, 2004.

Thanks, those last two posts were very helpful.

-- Bob Burke (, May 05, 2004.

Paul M. is quite correct when he says, “no other church is valid”. In UNITATIS REDINTEGRATIO which is partly quoted above, in the very second line of the encyclical the Church has clearly stated, “Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only.” We know that Truth is immutable, it’s absolute. Christ didn’t establish different churches. He established one church for all. Paul is correct when he says the Church cannot “recognize” any other church as valid. It recognizes one Church “ONLY”. What our Church can do is recognize that some sacraments, NOT ALL, in other churches are valid, (as she has done in Ut Unum Sint) for example, baptism. In recognizing some sacraments in the other churches, the Church is not “recognizing” the validity of that church in terms of being the church Christ established on earth for all men or that it is one of many conduits to salvation that possesses all of the Truths necessary for salvation. All churches possess some of the Truth, but only the Catholic Church possesses all of the Truth necessary for salvation. Jesus told us as much. This misunderstanding has been part of the problem in discussions involving Ecumenism. If non-Catholics realized the Church cannot waiver from this Truth and accepted the Church’s position on this, more rapid progress in the future could be accomplished in re-uniting all Christians.

In the very paragraph (3) of UNITATIS REDINTEGRATIO quoted above, the Church has indirectly, yet clearly, stated that those who caused the original separation of the other churches were in sin: “The children who are born into these Communities and who grow up believing in Christ cannot be accused of the sin involved in the separation,” If the Church feels these churches were founded on the commission of sin, how “valid” can she consider them to be? Isn’t sin in direct opposition to the will of God? Isn’t this, the founding of these churches, as Paul says, “in direct opposition to the will of God”?

Paragraph 4 is merely confirming the Church has a hole in her heart from the separation of the other churches, that she has an emptiness. However, this should not be misconstrued in any way to mean that she feels she does not possess the fullness of Truth necessary for salvation because of this separation. The Church is merely acknowledging that part of her family has been taken from her. When she says it is difficult to express her “full catholicity” she is referring to this emptiness that has been created. She is in no way making any reference whatsoever of losing part of the fullness of Truth necessary for salvation and to assume such is to be in error.

Lumen Gentium is correct when it says, “all men are called to this catholic unity of the People of God”. This statement must be understood in the context in which it was written. The "People of God" referred to is the Church Christ founded, the Catholic Church. There was no other for 1000 years after Christ’s death until man decided Christ’s Church wasn’t perfect. When the Church mentions "catholicity" (small “c”) she is referring to the universal unity she desires to see under the Church Christ created. Ecumenism as the Catholic Church sees it is not some new planned union or association of all “valid” Christian churches she considiers to be in existence. The Church in talking about Ecumenism is talking about a union, a universal or “catholic” union of all Christians under the Catholic Church, the one church and the ONLY church founded by Christ the Lord.

Bob, just a note of caution for you: please don’t enter into this sacrament with the idea that there may be a loophole in the wording or the terminology of the agreement that allows you wiggle out of your commitment to raise your children Catholic. You seem like an intelligent adult and I am sure you realize the intent of the agreement. If you have any misgivings about raising your children in the Catholic faith, then perhaps you should make them known now and not after you are married. Learn more about our Church and you will find it is not everything you have been led to believe it is. Non- Catholics have many misconceptions about the Church that they are pleasantly surprised to find out are incorrect when they become more well-informed.

-- Ed (, May 05, 2004.


As has been stated, contacting your diocese will yield the answer you are looking for. realize that in short you will be promising that you understand the children will be baptized catholic and that you will not interfere in their being raised catholic by speaking against the church, although you are allowed to take them to your own services (assuming they can attend mass as well). Like ed said, this promise is clear, and made before God, so to violate it, even through some percieved loophole, is a grave matter.


you are very prideful, as shows in many of your posts. there is much you can learn here about catholicism, if that is what you desire. if you desire to instruct us, please try not to tell deacons what church documents say. when you purport to know more than Paul M about the church, you make yourself look silly. perhaps you should take some time asking questions instead of trying to brow beat people, you might find there are many answers here

-- paul h (, May 06, 2004.

paul h,

While I agree with the spirit of your words, technically you have made a misstatement. Bob, as the non-Catholic party, makes no promises of any kind to the Catholic Church. In fact, the marriage could legally proceed under canon law even if Bob belonged to another religion that made him promise to bring up the children in that religion. Only the Catholic party to the marriage need make the promises I cited above.

It is a good idea for Bob to find out the exact wording of the promises from the local diocese, as some dioceses take it upon themselves to modify them. (This is a violation of canon law, but I have heard of cases where such alteration was done anyway.)

-- Mark (, May 06, 2004.

What does the marriage vow : Will you accept children willingly from God and bring them up under the laws of the Holy Mother the Church mean?

Is this not the other party commiting?

-- Hugh (, May 09, 2004.

The couple may not even have a Catholic wedding if they obtain a dispensation from form.

-- Mark (, May 09, 2004.

in my diocese the protestant party is required to at least acknowledge the promise of the catholic, so it is clear that they know what their spouse will attempt.

that might be the source of confusion, variance by diocese, which is very likely. thus, the best answer can be determined by contacting the local priest and or bishops office.

-- paul h (, May 09, 2004.

I have a question, what if there is an agreement made before the engagement that the children will not be raised Catholic. She still does promise to be a Catholic and re-affirms her faith. Does the Catholic party still have to go through with the promise that she will do her best to bring her children up Catholic when she knows that this is not true? Wouldn't the Catholic church be making her commit a sin by making her lie? Will the couple still be allowed to marry if she doesn't want to lie and not answer the question? What should she do in that situation?


-- Greg (, May 15, 2004.

I didn't see any ''prideful'' comment by Ed, as he filled us in on the Church documents. He is never prideful.

If something he states is incorrect, he can be challenged on that. But Ed's posts are mainly sound doctrine. They're presented with no pretense of personal authority.

-- eugene c. chavez (, May 15, 2004.

what if there is an agreement made before the engagement that the children will not be raised Catholic.

it is not the mothers place to pledge that she would deny the truth of the catholic church to her children. how could any true catholic agree to jeopardize their childrens souls by raising them outside the one true church?

She still does promise to be a Catholic and re-affirms her faith.

she can reaffirm all she wants, but as long as she is going to deny that faith to her children, her own is highly dubious.

Does the Catholic party still have to go through with the promise that she will do her best to bring her children up Catholic when she knows that this is not true?

if she wants to get married as a catholic then yes, she would have to make this promise.

Wouldn't the Catholic church be making her commit a sin by making her lie?

the catholic church wouldnt be making her do anything. she would be choosing to lie in an oath made before God. if she wants to lie, so she can pretend to be married as a catholic then thats her deal, and it bears no fault on the part of the church.

Will the couple still be allowed to marry if she doesn't want to lie and not answer the question? What should she do in that situation?

im going to answer this as one question. no. she cannot be married as a catholic and not want her children to have that same advantage towards salvation. what should she do? she should take a deep look at why she is catholic and why she would agree that anyone should not be exposed to universal truth. maybe she doesnt want to be catholic, but lying to God, who knows all things, isnt going to get her married as a catholic.

-- paul h (, May 15, 2004.

I'm a Protestant currently dating a Catholic. He and I have discussed the topic Bob is asking about and I have learned the following:

Only the Catholic partner needs to sign the document which states that s/he promises to do everything in his/her power to raise the children as a Catholic.

However, the decision to become Catholic is ultimately left up to the child him/herself. This would be done at Confirmation.

The document the Catholic partner signs is a promise to baptize the children in the Catholic church.

This is what I have come to understand from my conversations with my boyfriend.

However, I agree with Bob. Both Catholics and Protestants believe in the same God: Jesus Christ.

As it says in John 14:6 "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" and in John 3:36 "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."

The bottom line is belief in the one and only God.

Divisions within the church are nonsense and we should find a way to bridge the differences we have instead of making the division between believers even bigger.

-- Rae (, June 04, 2004.

Hey Bob, I stumbled upon this website while searching for advice on making interfaith marriages work. Pretty discouraging results I must say. However, I'm on the other side of the same problem you're on and I can greatly empathize with you. I'm a Roman Catholic. I'll always be a Roman Catholic. I love the Catholic Church with all my heart and even seriously discerned a vocation to be a Priest. If I hadn't met the woman of my dreams, a devout Protestant, maybe I would still be discerning that vocation. I've asked her to marry me. I have some fears, but I also know that Christ told us "Love conquers all fear." I hope I can offer some encouragement in the face of a difficult and delicate issue and just let you know that God is watching out for you no matter how hard things seem. The fact that you're even worried about this issue shows that you're a true follower of Christ. If you weren't, you wouldn't even care. And for those who say that you should just convert to make things easier.... forget them. Conversion comes from a true desire in your heart, not from a desire to make your life easier. Christ has no need for you to convert to anything simply to follow man made rules. Follow His message because the truth lies within. Anyways, I know how difficult this is from first hand experience. Something tells me some of the others responding to you don't. Below are some of my own reflections... you don't have to read them and they won't provide you any solutions.... just things that go through my mind as I think about it.

God clearly works in mysterious ways. I wish I could figure it out, but I can't. He knows my heart. He knows my head. I don't claim to know HIM, but, from what I have found in my research, nobody truly does. Our laws, our Church, though guided by the Holy Spirit, is a body of human beings and thus subject to flaws. The message of Christ is perfect and flawless. I don't want to jump on the "Passion" bandwagon, but... look at the visual representation of that movie. That movie united Christians of all denominations from around the world to the ONE TRUE MESSAGE OF CHRIST, namely that He endured a terrible sacrifice willingly for the salvation of our miserable, broken souls.

Show me a line in the Bible where Christ was exclusive of someone? Where did he ever shun a particular group or a particular person? I seem to remember him reaching out to tax collectors, adulterers, lepers, and.... even members of different faiths(Samaritans). HIS message is for the Gentiles and the Jews alike. HIS message is timeless. HIS message is simple.

It never ceases to amaze me that Christ came to Earth to give us a simple faith. His message is so so simple. Yet, in the course of 2004 years, we've taken a simple message and made it about as complicated as can be. We've fought wars over it, we've had tremendous divides over it. Why? Because humans are by and large not capable of getting along. It happens with Jews. It happens among muslims, and Buddhists. Every major religion is based on a very simple theme and every major religion has division. Who puts the division in place? Certainly not God. Certainly not Christ. These divisions are based on our own Human flaws.

My fiancee is a wonderful person. She's the most self-less, caring person I've ever met in my life. Her family is deeply involved in their Protestant church. I've met their minister and he is also a wonderful person. I don't know much, but I know that the light of Christ shines brightly through those people. She was clearly brought up to understand Christ's message and its tough for me to say that my way is definitely better. To be honest, I think the Catholic faith may be more complete, but Protestants live the faith better in many ways. There's a lot that we Catholics can learn from Protestants.

Anyway... the bottom line. As a Catholic I agree with you. I don't think there is one valid Church. There's one valid Christ, and I think we're all on the same page. God can work out any conflict... for us to believe he can't is the greatest sin of all. Focus on the message of Christ and discern what he would do if he were in the same situation. If you need help... pray... He's always there for you and will never leave you hanging out to dry. I won't tell you the decision my fiancee and I have made because I don't want to sway yours, and to be honest... our religious differences will always be an issue. But with an open heart and God's help, I know we can over come them. And I'll reject anyone who says we can't. I wish you and your fiancee the best of luck. I'll pray for you... say a few for me if you think of it.

-- steve nation (, June 13, 2004.

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