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Yael Queenann wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Would I be allowed to take RCIA classes, be baptized, etc. regardless of what my husband personally believes or does?

I won't bother trying unless, and until, I know he won't oppose it because there's no point in beginning RCIA classes if it would be an obstacle to a happy marriage. Children won't be an issue because the children we have were born and raised before I ever thought of becoming Catholic and we are unlikely to have any more, because I am 38 and my husband is planning to get a vasectomy in the next year or two. Marital status wouldn't be an issue because this the first marriage for both of us and I now understand that our marriage is valid, even if it isn't sacramental.

  • Would I ever be either:
    • forbidden to receive the sacraments or
    • be refused absolution during Confession because of the non-Christian status of my husband?

I can't imagine how my husband's marital status would affect my ability to participate fully in Church life, since, in my case, neither marital status nor children are an issue. That said, I have read stories of such things happening, hence my questions.

Let me give you some background information:

I am a convert to Judaism who lost her faith while living in Israel but continued generally to seek out faith. When I first visited your church in September (on a weekday), Constance suggested that my agnostic, deist husband may not see my exploring of Catholicism as a bad thing, if I just, now and then, went to inquiry sessions. Unfortunately, at the time he was still very sensitive (in a negative way) to any organized religion, so up to now, I put the thought away.

A few weeks ago, after considering the possibility of the existence of God, and the arguments:

  • from First Cause and
  • from Desire

I decided that I did believe in God. So, now what? Well, for a variety of reasons, I am still more strongly drawn to the Catholic Church than any other but when I got the nerve to ask my husband if he would be upset if I explored religion and joined another one, he took a deep breath and said,

"I just hope you don't become Roman Catholic."

Oh, darn it!

  • That would appear to shoot down any possibility of becoming Catholic, right?

Well, not necessarily, because for him to say he doesn't mind if I explore and join another religion is definitely a progression from saying, religion is bad for both of us — so I can see a possibility of his opinion becoming more flexible about which denomination he would feel comfortable joining with me, especially if I can bring up aspects of Catholicism that wouldn't offend him in anyway, like social justice and human dignity issues. I don't want to scare him though, so this may take a while; perhaps in a year or so. I will start going to church. Besides, I still haven't gotten much past:

"I believe in God."

I plan on going to a variety of churches for a while (perhaps for another year), so he can see I have explored all my local church options and have a legitimate basis for forming an opinion on the matter.

That is how things stand right now.

Yael

  { Would my husband's personal beliefs or actions interfere with me becoming Catholic? }

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Yael,

The technical answer to your question is that your husband's faith does not affect your ability to join the Catholic faith. Clearly, you have personal issues to work through.

Please remember that joining the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults or RCIA is a time of exploration. You do not make a commitment to be a Catholic when you join RCIA classes. Rather, these sessions give you the information you need to explain the faith so that you can make a decision about becoming a Catholic.

Therefore, what you would explain to your husband is not, that you want to become a Catholic, but that you want to sign up for classes in the Catholic Church to find out more about that faith.

This type of approach may be palatable to your husband. Then as you gain knowledge, you will be more equipped to explain to your husband what you feel God is calling you to.

Fr. Jonathan

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