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Nick Wildman wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am in love with a girl. I want to spend my life with her and spend eternity with her in Heaven. There is one problem however: she is a Protestant, an Evangelical, to be exact.

  • I really want to marry her and we're already engaged, but I was wondering, can I marry her in the Catholic Church right now, or does she have to convert?

Thanks sincerely,


  { Can I marry my evangelical girlfriend in the Catholic Church or does she have to convert? }

John replied:

Hi, Nick —

Thanks for the question.

You can marry this girl with the consent of the bishop, which is routinely granted. That said,
it may not be advisable to do so. Evangelical Christians are wonderful folk. They are usually very rooted in their faith. While that is a good thing, it could present a problem when it comes to raising the children and making other choices later on down the line.

In order to get permission to marry, she will have to promise not to interfere with your obligations to raise the children as Catholics. Her obligation would be as a witness to your promise of bringing the kids up Catholic. Typically, Evangelicals aren't willing to follow through with that, because of their zeal.

All that said, Evangelical Christians and Catholics share quite a bit in common. Perhaps you should encourage her to start studying what the Catholic Church teaches and why. After all, it's part of who you are; or at least it should be. Who knows, maybe the Holy Spirit will lead her to convert.

This last point addresses your other question. You can't have her convert. That is the Holy Spirit's job and Evangelicals are pretty rooted in what they believe. They don't just up and convert because someone tells them to, plus that's not the right reason to convert anyway.

One becomes a Catholic because they've come to believe that the Catholic Church is the one Church founded by Christ. That can only happen if God reveals that truth to a person.

  • We can tell them the truth.
  • We can present reasons for our beliefs and Teachings
  • but we can't bring about a real conversion.

Becoming a Catholic is not like becoming a member of the local Elk's club or member of the local Rotary club.   It means entering the One and Only True Church founded by our Lord and if you don't believe it is, then you really haven't converted.


Mary Ann replied:

Hi, Nick —

She does not need to convert, but you will need a dispensation to marry outside the Faith, and she will need to take marriage preparation classes with you. Also, she will have to promise not to interfere with you raising the children Catholic.

Since the mother sets the religious tone of the home, it will be difficult for her, and for you.

I would suggest trying to evangelize her!

Mary Ann

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