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Gerry Harrelson wrote:

Hi, guys —

My Catholic daughter is engaged to an atheist, a very good young man, who comes from a good, well-rounded family.

  • Can I (as a Catholic) give her away, in the traditional manner, in the Church?
  • Or, to put it another way, can they get married in the Church?


  { Would the Church allow me to give my daughter in marriage to an atheist in a Catholic Church? }

Mike replied:

Hi, Gerry —

Thanks for the question.

You said:

  • Can I (as a Catholic) give her away, in the traditional manner, in the Church?

The Catholic Church takes the faith and the sacrament of Marriage very seriously. When a couple is married in the Church they agree to make a commitment to the intentions or purposes of marriage:

  • permanence
  • children, and
  • fidelity

If a Catholic marries a non-Catholic, the non-Catholic has to agree not to interfere with their children being raised Catholic. Your daughter should make her fiancé aware of this. When we baptize our children in the Church we have to have a reasonable hope they will be raised as Catholics, otherwise the Church won't baptize them.

This is for their own good because we believe being Catholic is good for ourselves, our family and everyone; it is the Church Jesus founded. Because of this, it's the best faith for our salvation.

  • Do you know if your daughter's fiancé was every baptized a Christian or was he raised an atheist?

Either way, she would still have to get a dispensation from the local bishop to marry him in the Church.

The short answer to your question is: Yes, with permission of the local bishop, but read the following postings; they should provide additional insights.

There is no need or requirement for your daughter's fiancé to convert; he just has to agree not to interfere with the fruit of your love for each other: your children, being raised Catholic.

Hope this answers your question.


Mary Ann replied:

Gerry —

Mike is correct.

I just want to add that while the Church cautions people about the difficulties of a mixed marriage, she does allow Catholics to marry atheists or unbaptized persons.

Marriage to an unbaptized person is a natural marriage only, not a sacramental marriage.

Mary Ann

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