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Caroline wrote:

Hi, guys —

Hello, my name is Caroline.

My husband and I were married two years ago here in the United States and we are soon going to have an official wedding in the Catholic Church in December. I am not Catholic, but he is.

I have been attending Mass with him regularly but I have not been baptized nor received Holy Communion.

I would very much like to know the differences between the Catholic and Protestant religions.

I would really like things to go well at the wedding and I need some advice. Please help.



  { Because I will be marrying a Catholic, can you tell me the differences between our two faiths? }

Mike replied:

Hi, Caroline —

Thanks for the question.

As far as giving any pastoral advice, I would rather have one of my priest friends, Fr. Francis or
Fr. Nick, comment in addition to my two cents.

I've appended a portion of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to assist you in any questions you may have about making your marriage official. I've bolded a few important places.

The most popular read page on our site deals with the question you have asked:

If you are interested in getting a copy of the book that Bob refers to in the posting above, just click on the image of the book cover below.

Catholicism and Fundamental by Karl Keating

I used to run a free program that sent Catechisms to seeking Protestants and non-Christians but no longer have the financial or operational means to do this anymore. Nevertheless, if you wish to go deeper, consider buying a cheap copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to learn everything we believe as Catholics.

If you, or any visitor, has been helped by our work at, consider financially supporting us today. If you can't right now, check out our Click To Support program.

Thanks for e-mailing! And please follow up if you have any other questions.


From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Mixed marriages and disparity of cult

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 non-baptized 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 [legal recognition]  the express permission of ecclesiastical authority. In case of disparity of cult an express dispensation from this impediment is required for the validity of the marriage. This permission or dispensation presupposes that both parties know and do not exclude the essential ends and properties of marriage; and furthermore that the Catholic party confirms the obligations, which have been made known to the non-Catholic party, of preserving his or her own faith and ensuring the baptism and education of the children in the Catholic Church.

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." 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. 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.

Fr. Nick replied:

Dear Mike,

I would suggest that Caroline and her husband meet with their local priest as soon as possible,
to begin their marriage plans within the Church.

She asks for the difference between the Protestant and Catholic Church. We would need to know the specific Protestant denomination she is talking about, i.e.,

  • Episcopal
  • Methodist
  • Baptist, etc.

While we all share a common belief that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, the articulation of this differs dramatically.

I am also presuming neither has been previously married.

If so, then the process for the "official" Church wedding is called "validation," or "senation" of the pre-existing civil marriage.

Fr. Nick

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