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Crystal Manson wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am a 14-year-old Catholic girl. I go to a Catholic school, pray daily, go to Confession, and try to follow God's law. Recently, however, I got into an argument with my girl friend, who is also Catholic. I will call her Mary.

Mary and her family are very Republican, very pro-life, very holy, very Catholic, and very opinionated. I should mention here that my family is also pro-life, but more like 99% then 100%.
I come from a mixed family; my dad is not baptized, but he goes to church every week with us and plays in the choir. He is an excellent father and husband and somebody I look up to.

Here is where one of the problems I have comes in.

My Theology teacher said that we should try to marry people who believe the same way we do, (are Catholic) so they do not lead us off the path. To me, this sounds ignorant, unfair, and like a total blanket statement. My father is often a better example of a good person than many of the Catholic people I know. He believes in God, prays in times of crisis (maybe more), and is very loving.

  • How can people say that just because a person is not the same religion as you, they will not make a good spouse?

My dad's major flaw is that he travels a lot for his work, and leaves home for up to two weeks at a time, sometimes coming back for a day, then he's out again for a week. Nevertheless, he calls and we know that he doesn't like being away.

My other question has to do with my friend Mary.

Her family believes that birth control is an absolute no-no, and should never be used under any circumstances. Again, to me, this feels ignorant. Like many other women, there were problems my mom had, when I was born. She had a C-section, then a net in her body, to be brief. Having another child would have been very difficult, and dangerous to her health. I was her second child, and for a while both me and my brother were being looked after by my aging grandparents while my mom worked. With my dad at home, caring for two children was still very difficult. So, and my mom told me this openly, after I was born, my parents used birth control. My mom wanted three children, but, in addition to the above problems, she was already quite old when I was born.

  • Aren't there some exceptions to these blanket statements?
  • Or, were my parents not being accepting of the Lord?

From a confused Catholic.

Crystal

  { Isn't telling people we should marry someone of the same faith, too strict, like birth control? }

Mary Ann replied:

Dear Crystal,

Thank you for the question.

Your concern is understandable. Your loyalty to your parents is admirable. We do tend to judge moral issues according to our personal experience. For instance, if you have a relative or friend who has had an abortion, it feels like loyalty would require you to "be there" for them, to support them and not to "judge" them but we need to make a distinction between our loyalties and loves, and God's love, which is our fulfillment and what is good for us.

Your teacher did not make a blanket statement, but it felt like one, big, wet, blanket judgment on your family, I bet. She only said,

"We should try to marry someone of our own faith."

Since the time of the Apostles, Christians have been "yoked unequally", as Scripture has it
(2 Corinthians 6:14), when one partner is baptized and the other not. St. Monica married a pagan in obedience to her parents. The Church recommends that Catholics marry in the Faith, but she does not require that. She only recommends it for the sake of:

  • family unity and peace, and
  • the education in faith of the children.

Your father appears to be an exceptional man. Many non-Catholic spouses are not. You can read many sad stories on this from our knowledge base.

The Church does teach absolutely that contraception is morally wrong. She doesn't forbid it; she says that God's law forbids it because it violates the union of love and life, of the unitive and procreative aspects of marital intercourse. The marriage union is a personal union, of, by,
and for the human person. If you depersonalize the unitive aspect, you get lust and rape.
If you depersonalize the act itself, you get sterility and an act against God's creative power.
The marital act by nature is fruitful, not sterile. Fertility is a natural cycle, which includes times of non-fertility. Using those times, by the newer forms of natural family planning, can enable a person to have children in a way that respects the mother's health.

When your mother used birth control, she may not have known or understood this. Nobody judges her. Many Catholics don't know or accept this teaching. Its truth has been born out now that we know that the hormones in the pill cause cancer (according to the World Health Organization) and the pill itself causes abortion of early embryos. The condom, besides its moral aspects, also causes increases in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

All the barrier forms of birth control only work by causing abortions. Norplant has been outlawed. Depo-Provera causes severe osteoporosis, depression, and many terrible things. See the product insert online.

Mary Ann

Eric replied:

Hi, Crystal —

It is wonderful that your mother's marriage to your father turned out the way that it did.
Many mixed marriages turn out just fine. The Church permits mixed marriages, and in today's environment, there should be no impediment to getting one.

However, in her experience over thousands of years of counseling married couples, She has learned that one key issue that often divides couples and sometimes — but not always — causes divorce, is the issue of religion. The fact that your parents' marriage worked fine may be convincing to you, but you have a sample size of exactly one with 14 years of experience.
The Church has counseled millions and millions, if not billions, of couples.

  • Don't you think Her opinions are worth considering?

Disagreements between husband and wife is only one concern. A bigger concern is raising children. Only one parent will be supporting the children in the Catholic faith instead of two.
It doesn't take a mathematician to see that the chances of the kids being raised as strong Catholics, and remaining so, is reduced by half if only one parent is Catholic.

The fact that you are a good Catholic doesn't disprove this; it's like flipping a coin and getting heads and concluding that coins always come up heads. You have to flip the coin many times to prove that half the time it comes up heads, and half the time tails. Suppose you flipped a coin ten times and got ten heads. (This is possible.) You might argue that this proves that coins always come up heads, but it doesn't. The Church has flipped the coin hundreds of millions of times and observed that mixed marriages simply do not favor the Catholic faith, the way Catholic marriages do. Far from being ignorant, this is the fruit of much pastoral experience.

If you think this is ignorant, I suggest you spend a lot of time counseling a large number of mixed marriages and observe what the results are before you make a judgment that this is ignorant.

  • This would be the fair and scientific thing to do rather than jumping to conclusions,
    would it not?

Eric

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