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A Let down Mom wrote:

Hi, guys —

My 31-year-old daughter has been a practicing Catholic and choir director at our parish church and has never been married. She was recently engaged to a 32-year-old Baptist preacher with an
ex-wife and two children; he has bad credit to boot. She recently bought a very large home for the four of them along with furnishings, all in her name, although thankfully, they are not living together until after the wedding.

I have advised my daughter regarding the marriage of a Catholic and non-Catholic in order that she would remain in good standing with the Church and, most importantly, to be able to continue to receive Holy Communion, but sadly, she has chosen to allow this man to make all the preparations for their future wedding plans. He has also refused to annul his first marriage, which was not a Catholic wedding, and they have chosen another Baptist church to marry at because
"it is prettier than the church he currently preaches at". She has knowingly accepted that she will no longer be allowed to receive Holy Communion and stated:

"She has to do, what she has to do when marrying a Baptist preacher."

Suffice it to say, I am so saddened and heartbroken by her choices in this matter and have found that I have little to no respect for this man that dares to call himself "a man of God". He is, instead, more interested in the "biggest and best" of everything and is not a good steward in all things. I find it dreadfully depressing that he will be our son-in-law in a few short months, but in name only, because he does very little to join our family events and functions.

My question is this:

  • Is it morally permissible for me as a Catholic to attend the wedding and/or reception?

I care deeply for my daughter, and I want to be a part of her life, but I cannot find it within myself to be a willing participant in this wedding which I feel will showcase her total disregard for the importance of the Eucharist and the faith she has been brought up in since her infancy. I have none of that joy that a mother should be experiencing, along with her daughter, in making plans for her wedding.

A Let down Mom

  { Is it morally permissible for me, as a Catholic, to attend this wedding [and/or] the reception? }

Mary Ann replied:

Dear Let down Mom —

  • Does your daughter know that she should no longer take a public role at the Catholic Church?
  • Has she even spoken to her pastor?

It appears to me — and this is not catechesis or apologetics, but just my sense — that this guy might be a kind of con artist. A preacher who would not even marry in front of his own congregation is rare indeed.

In any case, you are under no obligation to attend the wedding. In former times, you would have been forbidden to attend. Now, family and friends are allowed to attend invalid weddings of Catholics to preserve family unity, assuming the Catholic has left the faith.

Nevertheless, we are not allowed to be formal witnesses at such an event, because that would be saying before God that we witnessed a marriage, which is a lie. However, since your daughter has not left the Church, and presumably intends to remain Catholic, she is intentionally committing a mortal sin and planning to remain in that state. This puts a different color on your presence at the event. You are under no moral obligation to participate.

  • Also, did you remind your daughter that a man who is doing this at the beginning of the relationship is not going to allow her to raise her children Catholic, and will probably, very soon, insist that she attend Protestant services, especially since he is a preacher?

A case can be made that your daughter is apostatizing in entering this relationship. If she had insisted on an annulment, and received a dispensation, she could marry a Baptist preacher and remain in good standing in the Church. It would be very difficult for her, but better than losing her faith and endangering her salvation.

Mary Ann

A Let down Mom replied:

Dear Mary Ann,

Thank you so much for your prompt reply.

My daughter does not yet realize that she should not, as you stated, be taking a public role in the Church. She has been very frugal and penny wise since she moved from our home to her own almost ten years ago. She has a good job currently but now, that she has taken on the larger expenses that a larger home entails, she will be relying on her additional income from the Church.

She will be shocked to find out when she is dismissed from her role as choir director after she marries, if not sooner, and this act alone, will send her running to join her fiancé in her "rightful place" as a preacher's wife in the Baptist church. Lucky for him, she also plays piano!

She has chosen to not speak to our rector because she doesn't like to talk to him if she doesn't have to. Unfortunately, this feeling is felt by many parishioners because our pastor is quite a curmudgeon and also dislikes speaking to people. He has been our pastor for over twelve years because he is such a good administrator and so far the only one who has agreed to take on our church, which is a Cathedral and comes with the added burden of a Catholic school. Nevertheless, he is not liked by a lot of his parishioners. The head of the Tribunal is also stationed at our church but my daughter was told by a Deacon that she would have to speak to the Rector regarding the annulment. To make matters worse, her fiancé, the Baptist preacher, has had previous confrontations with our Rector in the past so there is more bad blood involved in the situation.

They have already discussed that if there are any children born to them that he will not allow them to be raised in the Catholic faith. He has already given her plenty of guilt as far as the "hit" he is having to bear in that he will not have his wife present alongside his congregation after the wedding so he is sacrificing a lot in allowing her to be at the Catholic Church on Sundays.

He has also totally brain-washed her into believing that he has sacrificed so much to be with her and she can't see how, before she came along and changed everything, she has literally brought him out of the gutter.

My husband has told me that if I do not participate in the wedding that I will lose our daughter and she will never darken our doorstep ever again. He says that because she was always a good daughter, never giving us any trouble or problems growing up, that she deserves to have everything she desires to make her wedding day a beautiful and memorable event.

He claims I have a lot of hatred in my heart but he cannot understand the heartbreak I feel, knowing that our daughter will never receive Jesus in the Eucharist once she joins this man at the altar. I know I don't hate him but I truly wish she had never met him.

  • Could my husband be correct in his assumption of my feelings?

Let-down Mom

Mary Ann replied:

Dear Let-down Mom —

I would say the right path is somewhere in the middle. You might want to let your daughter and her fiancé plan and pay for their own wedding, so that you are not morally implicated in this event.

You can attend to keep peace in the family.

Mary Ann

A Let down Mom replied:

Thank you Mary Ann,

This advise is whole-heartedly welcomed and appreciated.

A huge weight has been lifted from me by getting to air my dilemma in these correspondences
and I feel like I can breathe once again.

God bless you!

Let-down Mom

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