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Barbara S. wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am Catholic and my husband is Hungarian Reformed. He was baptized, and made his Communion and Confirmation in 1959.

We went to see the pastor of the Hungarian Reformed Church and there are 30 years missing of Confirmations and Communions, we saw the book ourselves. All he has is a photograph of the Confirmation class.

He goes to, and participates in, the Mass, as well as the novenas at the parish; he also assists the parish in lighting the candles, etc. He is more Catholic than many Catholics I know. The diocese of Paterson, New Jersey is telling him that his sacraments do not count and he will have to receive the sacraments over again and go to classes for maybe a year or so. He currently does not receive Communion in the Catholic Church.

If all of this is so, he will not become a Catholic, but will continue to attend Mass. He would like to receive Communion.

  • Does the Canon law apply here?

He feels as though the Catholics are saying that his religion is not good enough for them.

It's not like he is converting from Judaism or anything.

Please advise, and thanks a lot!


  { Why don't my husband's sacraments from the Hungarian Reformed church count? }

Mike replied:

Dear Barbara,

Thanks for the question.

You are definitely blessed to have a husband who is Catholic in heart.

For this you should be very thankful.

Nevertheless, what your husband has to understand is that one of the sad consequences of the Reformation was that Thomas Cranmer, under King Henry VIII, changed the form and the matter for Holy Orders.

Holy Orders is the sacrament that makes a priest, a priest. Once someone is a validity ordained priest, he can administer all seven sacraments in a valid manner.

The Reformed Church in Hungary is a Calvinist or Reformed church. (See this also.) This means any sacraments he received, except for Baptism, if it was administered properly, and Marriage, were invalid. Calvinist don't have a valid priesthood; none of the break off churches from the Reformation have a valid priesthood.

For that reason, it is important for him to have the proper understanding of what the sacraments are in the life of a Catholic, before he receives them. This requires a bit of study and learning.

You said:
there are 30 years missing of Confirmations and Communions

If they couldn't find any Communion or Confirmation records, then they probably couldn't find his Baptismal Certificate. The Church would at least need this to accept his Baptism.

You said:
If all of this is so, he will not become a Catholic, but will continue to attend Mass.
He would like to receive Communion.

  • Does the Canon law apply here?

That's his choice! Neither you, nor any one from AskACatholic can force your husband to do something he doesn't want to do. It's also good that he is not receiving Holy Communion.

Receiving Holy Communion signifies that you are in a common union with the Church's teachings, which he is not. I think it's important for him to understand what he is missing out on.
The sacramental life of the Church is like the dynamite that helps us make clear moral decisions and brings us back to new life in Jesus after we sin.

Unlike in the Hungarian Reformed church, where the Eucharist is only a symbol, in the Catholic Church we, in awe, receive the real Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Himself!

  • How can someone want to turn away from that?

If he wishes to go deeper, encourage him to consider buying a cheap copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to learn everything we believe as Catholics.

The purpose of Canon Law is to protect the rights of all Catholics in the Church, lay people and clergy alike, from:

  • other lay people, and
  • clergy

You can't complain about not having a right, when one doesn't exist. If your husband is a Catholic at heart, he has to understand the sacraments and the importance of receiving valid sacraments in the Church.

Jesus did not found the Hungarian Reformed Church; He founded the Catholic Church and instituted the sacraments on St. Peter and His successors.

You said:
He feels as though the Catholics are saying that his religion is not good enough for them. It's not like he is converting from Judaism or anything.

I would agree to a certain extend. Like I said, Thomas Cranmer changed the form and matter that makes a priest a priest. All Reformed churches threw away the concept of a sacrificial priesthood which is key to the Catholic faith. This was the effect of Cranmer's doing, not the Catholic Church's doing.

If he wants to belong to a church founded by a man, he has that right, but if he wants to join the one Church "God Incarnate" established on St. Peter, there is only one Church on the face of the earth where he can go: the Catholic Church.

The choice is his, and nobody else's. You should encourage him, but let him decide.

Hope this helps,


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