Skip to main content

Marriage between Catholic and Non-Catholic (or Non-Christian) person

Saly asks:

Question

Need clarification from the adult CCD class - Feb 27th. Why is it wrong to marry a person with another religious belief? Are we saying that they have the wrong faith? Or is it because it is difficult to change a persons basics in faith (even if that person is ready to convert to our faith) and it will become difficult in raising children in our faith and hence can lead to marital problems?

Answer

This is a great question. It is a very relevant question as parents to not just answer when asked by our children. Rather, teach them as they grow. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. I would like to put that section here in its entirety. Hope this answers the question completely.

 

1633 In many countries the situation of a mixed marriage (marriage between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic) often arises. It requires particular attention on the part of couples and their pastors. A case of marriage with disparity of cult (between a Catholic and a nonbaptized person) requires even greater circumspection.

1634 Difference of confession between the spouses does not constitute an insurmountable obstacle for marriage, when they succeed in placing in common what they have received from their respective communities, and learn from each other the way in which each lives in fidelity to Christ. But the difficulties of mixed marriages must not be underestimated. They arise from the fact that the separation of Christians has not yet been overcome. The spouses risk experiencing the tragedy of Christian disunity even in the heart of their own home. Disparity of cult can further aggravate these difficulties. Differences about faith and the very notion of marriage, but also different religious mentalities, can become sources of tension in marriage, especially as regards the education of children. The temptation to religious indifference can then arise.

1635 According to the law in force in the Latin Church, a mixed marriage needs for liceity the express permission of ecclesiastical authority. [CIC, can. 1124] In caseof disparity of cult an express dispensation from this impediment is required for the validity of the marriage. [ CIC, can. 1086] This permission or dispensation presupposes that both parties know and do not exclude the essential ends and properties of marriage and the obligations assumed by the Catholic party concerning the baptism and education of the children in the Catholic Church. [CIC, can. 1125]

1636 Through ecumenical dialogue Christian communities in many regions have been able to put into effect a common pastoral practice for mixed marriages. Its task is to help such couples live out their particular situation in the light of faith, overcome the tensions between the couple's obligations to each other and towards their ecclesial communities, and encourage the flowering of what is common to them in faith and respect for what separates them.

1637 In marriages with disparity of cult the Catholic spouse has a particular task: "For the unbelieving husband is consecrated through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is consecrated through her husband." [1 Cor 7:14] It is a great joy for the Christian spouse and for the Church if this "consecration" should lead to the free conversion of the other spouse to the Christian faith. [Cf. 1 Cor 7:16] Sincere married love, the humble and patient practice of the family virtues, and perseverance in prayer can prepare the non-believing spouse to accept the grace of conversion.

Thanks
Stephen