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Rahul wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am a Hindu guy from India and am married to a Christian woman. The marriage was not done in the Church. This was agreed on by both parties. After the marriage, we had marital problems. Today we are living separately due to some minor issues in our marriage.

Now, all of a sudden, she is asking me:

  • to get married in the Church
  • to agree to the kids being baptized, and
  • to follow Christianity as they have been since they were born.

This has totally taken me by surprise. I have never asked her to convert or have ever tried to influence her into Hinduism. It's my understand that since I am not ready to get the kids baptized in the Church, the Church will not marry us. We both love each other a lot and I really do not want religion and faith in God to be a barrier in this relationship.

I personally find it a little hard to understand why the Church sets a condition like getting the kids baptized in order for a couple to get married when they have made the decision to be with each other for life. I personally find this decree a form of protectionism.

I by no means intend to hurt any one by my words and if it did hurt any one, I am deeply sorry about this, but this is from a heart felt frustration of a man who loves his wife very deeply but has made me go back and revisit decisions I have made in the past.

I am secular person and am at peace in the Church as I am in the temple.


  { Why am I being told we have to get married in the Church and raise our children Catholic? }

Mike replied:

Dear Rahul,

Thank-you for the very good question.

This is an area where there can be a lot of confusion among non-Catholics.

By what you have described the woman you married outside the Church was a Catholic Christian. This is important because, for the good of both spouses (you and her) and your future children, a Catholic has to marry according to form.

That's why I was surprised both of you were originally married outside the Church.

The Church teaches a non-Catholic does not have to convert to marry a Catholic.
On the issue of children, Fr. Jonathan corrected me on this issue a few weeks ago, when I said:

Mike stated:

She [the non-Catholic] does have to allow you to bring up any future children both of you have, as Catholics

Fr. Jonathan replied:

This is actually inaccurate. She doesn't have to allow that. What is actually the case is that the Catholic has to promise to do “all in his/her power” to have the children baptized and raised as Catholics and the non-Catholic has to only witness that promise.

There is a major difference in those two positions — if you don't get it read it again.

The non-Catholic is not promising, the Catholic is.

I would just add that witnessing that promise implies not interfering with the promise the Catholic spouse has made. This is why your future wife would also have to get permission from the local bishop to marry you.

From an outsider's view this may seem coercive, but it is for the good of the Catholic and his or her children. Because we believe Catholic values are best for everyone, we want to ensure the children receive the best and that the Catholic spouse is able to raise the children Catholic.

Sadly, many Catholics don't know or appreciate the faith as well as they should.

You said:
We both love each other a lot and I really do not want religion and faith in God to be a barrier in this relationship.

We hear this a lot from other questioners. I think it's great that you are so devoted to each other, but there ultimately has to be a consensus between the two of you about the type of values the two of you wish to raise your children with. You shouldn't run away from this important issue.

Unlike mainline Protestantism, Catholicism has the fullness of Christianity Christ established for His Church before He ascended into Heaven.

Correct me if I am wrong, but the values of Secularism can, by definition, only address the values in this earthly life. It has no answers for an after life, when you die.

Only Catholic Christianity addresses all the answers we can possible know, in this life, and the next. You are free to remain a Secularist and can still marry the woman you love, but it can be difficult.

Your marriage would be referred to as a disparity of cult because the marriage is between a baptized Christian and a non-baptized person.

The Catechism says:

Mixed marriages and disparity of cult

CCC 1633 In many countries the situation of a mixed marriage (marriage between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic) often arises. It requires particular attention on the part of couples and their pastors.

A case of marriage with disparity of cult (between a Catholic and a non-baptized person) requires even greater circumspection.

CCC 1634 Difference of confession between the spouses does not constitute an insurmountable obstacle for marriage, when they succeed in placing in common what they have received from their respective communities, and learn from each other the way in which each lives in fidelity to Christ. But the difficulties of mixed marriages must not be underestimated. They arise from the fact that the separation of Christians has not yet been overcome. The spouses risk experiencing the tragedy of Christian disunity even in the heart of their own home. Disparity of cult can further aggravate these difficulties. Differences about faith and the very notion of marriage, but also different religious mentalities, can become sources of tension in marriage, especially as regards the education of children. The temptation to religious indifference can then arise.

You said:
I personally find this decree a form of protectionism.
I am secular person and am at peace in the Church as I am in the temple.

When someone believes that a set of values is good for them and their ultimate salvation, a term referring to the next life, they want to share and instill these values in the people they love (their spouse and children).

A practicing Catholic who knows, understands, and practices Catholic values will want to have their family raised Catholic. In that sense, there is a protectionism view of the faith.

Unlike most of Islam, Catholics believe in each person's ability to make free will choices for themselves, so no one is tell you that you have to convert, but the values that your Catholic spouse believes in have to be respected and protected.

  • Does this make sense?


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