non-Catholic wants to marry a Catholic but without converting : LUSENET : Catholic : One Thread

Hi there,

I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask this but I'll go ahead. Any advice will be gladly received.

I am a non Catholic (Protestant, church of Scotland) and next summer I will be getting married to a Catholic girl. She wants to get married in a Catholic Church which I was originally against however I have now agreed to on the grounds that we can't have it both ways and it is very important to her. I should say, although I am Church of Scotland this wedding will take place in the USA.

However while I have utmost respect for the Catholic faith, understandably I am very committed to my own faith and do not plan on converting to Catholicism.

I am also reluctant to agree to raise my future children in the Catholic faith.

Is it likely that a priest would be happy to marry us without me converting or agreeing to raise my children as Catholics?

I have also heard that if a non Catholic male wishes to get married in a Catholic church the priest my insist that the best man is a Catholic in order to keep the groom on 'the straight and narrow' is this true or just a rumour?

Any other advice on what I can expect in this situation will also be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.


-- Kieron (, September 16, 2004


Response to non catholic wants to marry a catholic but without converting

Hello Kieron,

A non-Catholic does not have to convert or promise to raise the children Catholic in order to marry a Catholic in the Catholic church. The usual requirements are that both parties participate in a short series of pre-marital instruction; that the Catholic party give assurance that the marriage is not a danger to her faith; that the Catholic party promise to do do all in her power to raise the children Catholic; and that the non-Catholic party be informed of the Catholic party's responsibilities.

-- Paul M. (, September 16, 2004.

Response to non catholic wants to marry a catholic but without converting

to add to Paul M's response,

you don't HAVE to convert... even though I hope that maybe this will allow you to reflect on the catholic faith and maybe learn some of the reasons for the beliefs it has taught for nearly 2000 years.

also, you dont HAVE to have a catholic best man, to the best of my understanding.

-- paul h (, September 16, 2004.

You might want to read what a few popes have said on the subject of
Mixed Marriages
The priest shouldn't be happy to marry you both since you're unwilling
to raise your future children in the Catholic Faith. Your future wife
and children are in danger of loosing their Faith. Not a good thing.
That's why the Church has always frowned upon mixed marriages.
May The Holy Family guide you.

-- Faith (, September 18, 2004.

Yes but faith, the one thing I could never understand, is that if the mother and her children are in danger of losing their souls, why doesn't the Church just forbid interfaith marriages altogether? Aren't we bound to avoid occasions of sin? And being married to a non-Catholic is an occasion that could lead to sin since the couple are to become "ONE" and much influence and beliefs can be given to one spouse from another. I know this can also apply to the non- Catholic also but he/she would not be the one stepping outside of the Church by his/her own will.

Can anyone help me to understand this please?

-- D Joseph (, September 18, 2004.

Yes but faith, the one thing I could never understand, is that if the mother and her children are in danger of losing their souls, why doesn't the Church just forbid interfaith marriages altogether? Aren't we bound to avoid occasions of sin? And being married to a non-Catholic is an occasion that could lead to sin since the couple are to become "ONE" and much influence and beliefs can be given to one spouse from another. I know this can also apply to the non- Catholic also but he/she would not be the one stepping outside of the Church by his/her own will.

Can anyone help me to understand this please?

Good questions. It used to be that the Church was more strict on this matter...making sure that the non-Catholic party agreed to raise the children Catholic (they would have to sign an agreement). The Church always frowned upon mixed marriages. Some of the encyclicals I linked to might help you a bit in understanding. I used to have a link to the code of canon law (1917) that had the regulations re: mixed marriages - can't find my link! When and if I do..I'll post it. Also, this article is a good read.

God bless, Faith

-- Faith (, September 19, 2004.

Here's some more info. Today the rules have changed though... sad, but true. Probably changed within the last 40yrs? (I need to look that up)

The Question Box - Replies to Questions Received on Missions to Non-Catholics
1903 Rev. Bertrand L. Conway

Why is the Catholic Church so bitterly opposed to the marriage of Catholics with Protestants?

The Catholic Church has always disapproved of mixed marriages, because: 1st The Catholic party is in great danger of losing the faith. How frequently a strong-minded unbeliever, who daily ridicules all that a Christian woman holds dear, or a bigoted Protestant, who only manifests his hatred of the Catholic religion after marriage, is the cause of the apostasy of a weak-minded, indevout, and ill-instructed woman. In a non-Catholic environment, as in the Southern States, amny such souls have drifted away from the Church. 2d. The possibility of the children being reared non-Catholics. How often the Catholic party dies, and the non-Catholic marries again, bringing up the children in an alien faith. Moreover, the example of an unbelieving, indifferentist, or Catholic-hating parent will have a pernicious influence upon the children, unless counteracted in strong measure by the other parent, the Church and the school. Add to this the fact that many men refuse to allow their children to be baptized in the Catholic faith, despite their written promise to that effect. 3d. The unhappiness that often follows in the train of such marriages. The non-Catholic, too, may at any time secure a divorce and remarry, while the Catholic cannot do so without grievous sin. 4th. The essenctially distinct moral principles regarding the marriage relations held by Protestants generally and Catholics, with regard to divorce, abortion, the limiting of the family.

The Catholic Church grants a dispensation from the ecclesiastical law forbidding mixed marriages, because she hopes in certain particular cases that these evils may be obviated. She lays down three conditions: 1st. Both parties must promise that all the children be reared in the Catholic faith. 2d. The non-Catholic must promise not to interfere in any way with the religious life of the Catholic. 3d. The Catholic must promise to do everything possible - by prayer, good example, and persuasion - to bring the non-Catholic to the true faith.

My Catholic Faith - A Manual of Religion
1954 Most Reverend Louis LaRavoire Morrow, D.D.

Does the Church forbid Catholics to contract marriage with non-Catholics?

Yes; the Church does forbid Catholics to contract marriage with non-Catholics.

1. Such a marriage is called a "mixed marriage." The Church forbids mixed marriages because they often bring about family discord, loss of faith on the part of the Catholic, and neglect ot the religious training of the children.

The Church strongly disapproves of mixed marriages. From its long experience, the Church knows that mixed marriages are rarely happy; they are opposed to the union and harmony that should exist between spouses. The Catholic is in danger of losing his or her faith. The non-Catholic is liable to a divorce and contract another marriage, whereas the Catholic is bound not to take a second partner until the first on dies. The proper training of the children becomes difficult; moreover, it is likely that the offspring from such unions grow up with out proper religious instruction, and lose the Faith.

2. For mixed marriages, a dispensation is granted only for grave cause, and under the condition of a promise (as a rule, in writing): by the non-Catholic party not to endanger the faith of the Catholic; by the Catholic party to strive for the conversion of the non-Catholic by prayer and good example; and by both parties to have all children born of the marriage baptized and reared as true Catholics.

The divine law forbids mixed marriages as long as there is danger to the faith of the Catholic or of the offspring. This danger has to be removed before dispensation is granted; hence the definte and explicit promises required.

3. The Church shows its disapproval of mixed marriages even after a dispensation has been granted. Sacred functions, such as the Nuptial Mass and Blessing, are forbidden; the banns are not published. The bishop may permit some ceremonies.

The ceremony cannot take place in the church, but in the sacristy or convent, except with a very special permission from the bishop. Even with the permission, all vestments and blessings, as well as the Nuptial Mass, are omitted.

-- Faith (, September 19, 2004.

Faith, I suggest you obtain some up to date material regarding church disciplines. Quoting 50 to 100 year old documents simply misguides people and gives them misinformation. Perhaps you personally wish the current church disciplines were the same as they were in 1903, but in truth they are not, and pretending that they are is of no real value to anyone. People seeking information regarding marriage need solid CURRENT information, not nostalgia.

-- Paul M. (, September 19, 2004.

Hi Paul,
I mentioned first off..."Today the rules have changed though..." Who's pretending? Not I.
I'm still wondering when the rules changed maybe it was 1983 not 1903? I don't knock what what the church has said in the past... the encyclicals re: marriage were pretty good advice. (even for today ;)
God bless,

-- Faith (, September 19, 2004.

I really don't understand this, Kieron. You said that you have 'utmost repect for the Catholic faith' but you are reluctant to raise your future children in the Catholic faith (sic) !!! What do you really mean here Kieron ?

I don't believe faith is achieved by taking the kids to the church or by baptism. I find it hard to fathom your point here. Do you love this woman ? I can hardly see you two will look at the same direction in the future, as you two now have different belief and faith. If you two can't resolve then it will be a tangled web in any religion discussion as we all know where it ends up to. With the kids later adding on to your family the tension will be more as your wife will have different ideas how the kids will be raised and in the process of faith building compared to your ideas !

On top of this, you won't be happy to see your wife-to-be taking your future kids to a Catholic church for baptism and other sacraments if it is issue now with you then it would be a problem by then.

To get the best advice on this matter, I think you are better going to see a priest with your fiancé and discuss your concerns with him. You will be surprise to find out how simple your concerns are and will be solved !

Good luck and all the best !

-- Peter (, September 20, 2004.

Hi guys,

First of all thanks for all the answers, they have been helpful.

Well I have been talking with my fiancé about this and she has also been speaking to a priest in the church where we will be married and here is what looks like we are going with.

We will go ahead and be married in a Catholic church. Although as Paul M. points out I don't have to promise to raise any future children as Catholics anymore I think the priest in question still wants me to agree to this before he will marry us. My fiancé and I have agreed that I will say this, however we will not necessarily mean it. That sounds a bit of a bad statement really and I guess it will not be to many peoples liking, however any future kids we have will be raised as Christians. To explain it a little further while my fiancé is Catholic and I am Protestant neither of us are regular attendants at church, partly due to us both holding very liberal views some of which are in conflict with our churches. However we both consider ourselves Christian and it is important to us to have a religious wedding.

Faith, thanks for the links to the articles and the bits you picked out. Although they were old and possibly out of date they did help me understand where the current school of thinking comes from.

To answer a couple of specific questions that Peter made in his post:

"I really don't understand this, Kieron. You said that you have 'utmost respect for the Catholic faith' but you are reluctant to raise your future children in the Catholic faith (sic) !!! What do you really mean here Kieron ?" What I mean here is that while I don't agree with everything the Catholic church stands for I do respect other people's choice to believe this and I'm not going to try and argue who is right or wrong.

"I don't believe faith is achieved by taking the kids to the church or by baptism." I couldn't agree more. I have found my faith is much stronger since I have being going to church less. Sounds strange I guess but now read about or discuss religion with others it is because of a genuine interest, not as a matter of routine. It has also given me an opportunity to form my own views on things rather than just accepting the prescribed view unquestioningly which is what I found myself doing each Sunday at church.

On the issue of future kids being baptised Catholic I won't see a problem with this. I personally am more in favour of children not being baptised until they are old enough to make their own decision on the matter but this one has been discussed and my fiancé would want to have children baptised when they are young as normal. Due to pressure from her family I am sure this will be in a Catholic church but neither her or I mind which church as long as it is Christian.

Peter, I have a question for you. You raise some interesting points in your post but what do you suggest? I either convert to Catholicism or we shouldn't get married? You seen to suggest there is not a lot of hope for a mixed marriage which I find to be a very limiting view. I know of quite a few happily married couples who have mixed marriages but for whom it is not a problem. This includes my own parents, my father is an elder in our Church of Scotland and my mother is a practising Buddhist.

I guess an open question to everybody is why do you suppose this Proddy/Catholic connection causes so much trouble. As I have pointed out a few times in this post we are all on the same side, we are all Christian. I do understand the fundamental difference between the two strains of Christianity but really fail to see how it can put both sides at odds so much. I've seen first hand the problems this can cause (Northern Ireland or Glasgow after a Celtic V Rangers game) it all seems a bit un-Christian don't you think?

The plan is that once married we will find a nice non-denominational Christian church, here's hoping it works.

Thanks again.


-- Kieron (, September 20, 2004.

One more quick question that I forgot to add to my last post.

How can and future children my fiancé and I have be in danger of losing their faith due to our mixed marriage if they are not yet born, in which case cannot yet have a faith?

Or does that mean that they will be born, be baptised and then be in danger of losing faith after that?

-- Kieron (, September 20, 2004.

Yes, it means that they may be raised in an atmosphere where they may never find know the fullness of the Christian faith. They cannot "lose" faith they never had, but rather they lose the opportunity to find all that Christ intended them to have for the eternal salvation of their souls. Entering into marriage under false pretenses is a serious matter. Since you are not technically required to promise anything, your lying about your intentions would not invalidate your marriage. However, your fiance's lying about her intent to do everything possible to raise the children in Christ's Church could invalidate your marriage, since marriage to a non-Catholic is forbidden except by special dispensation, and such dispensation is contingent upon that promise.

-- Paul M. (, September 20, 2004.

Why do you both impose that the children would be taught under 1 faith - I understand your own faith in your beliefs is answering that question, but have you ever thought that your children (if there will be any...) may not consider either of your faith's? They may, infact, consider a path of their own? And of course you should continue the teachings of both belief systems to your children, and you should also teach them that its ok to have parents who are not JUST one kind of religion...but you should also let them explore their own righteous path.

-- Paula Kenmore (, October 07, 2004.

I'm curious. How ardently do you practice your Church of Scotland faith? Can you tell us what being a member of the Church of Scotland means to you and how it is (in what ways) that you practice it?

-- Jack Sammon (, October 08, 2004.

This man has faith in Jesus God and the Holy Spirit. It is sad that just because he doesn’t follow the Catholic Church that people think he won’t be save or will raise his children to be non-catholic. Well the only thing that comes to mind as you persecute this man is “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”

-- Christopher Kumicich (, December 14, 2004.

This may seem off subject to some, but to me it seems to be a good place to put it: I am somewhere between agnostic and atheist, I don't exactly believe there is definitely NOT a God, or Gods but anytime I try to understand the Catholic faith or any other, I am baffled and repulsed by the words and beliefs of some religious zealots. See, I try to learn all I can about the Catholic faith, because my father was raised Catholic, my fiance is Catholic and his family is pretty into their religion. I want sometimes to believe but I find that I just can't, everything that I know and have learned throughout my life contradicts what the Catholic faith teaches. Well, I shouldn't say everything, but a lot. For instance, and I know this is the same with most religions, but that Catholics feel that Catholics should marry Catholics, and raise their children Catholic, but in today's world how can you hinder open-mindedness, how can you teach that only your way is right and everyone else that believes anything else is wrong?? I'm not saying that you shouldn't raise your children Catholic, I plan on letting my fiance raise MY daughter Catholic, but I don't think they should be taught that they should believe just because Daddy or Mommy says you should, I think they should be taught about Catholicism and what it means to really believe and then be allowed to choose what they do and do not believe. It seems that so many people just believe because that is what they were told was the right thing. I went to Sunday School as a child and to mass and all, but it just never seemed like the right thing to me, even though I was told it was. I am glad I was given the opportunity to learn about the Catholic faith, I hold some of the principles of the Catholic faith very near and dear to me, but that doesn't mean that I have to believe unwaveringly in some God that has never convinced me of his existence. <> Sorry guys, just something I had to get off of my chest. Thanks!

-- Girl of Today (, January 09, 2005.

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