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Daniel Saliba wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am a Catholic who married a great Coptic Orthodox women five years ago.

I confirmed with my priests and her priests that we both recognize each others church and share the same sacraments so we proceeded with the marriage in the Coptic church which was followed by a further blessing of the marriage in the Catholic Church. We go to both churches as a family and will continue to do so throughout our lives.

We were recently blessed with a son and are ready to baptize him. We both understand that you can't baptize your child twice, nor do we want to.

  • Can we begin by baptizing my son the Coptic church and get a further blessing as a member of Christian faith in a Catholic Church?

We want to raise our son in both churches as we see them as belonging to one church as our marriage is now one.

I know we pray for the one church at every Mass as they were many years ago.

Your help and guidance is most appreciated on this matter.

Many Thanks,

Daniel

  { Can we baptize my son the Coptic church and get a further blessing as in the Catholic Church? }

Eric replied:

Dear Daniel —

Unfortunately you can't really raise a child in both faiths. You can expose him to both, but he can only belong to one, as you too, can only belong to one. Having your marriage blessed in the Catholic Church, you should have been asked to promise to raise any children in the Catholic faith. For this reason, I recommend you have him baptized Catholic and raise him that way, and simply expose him to the Coptic Orthodox faith.

The Coptic Church and the Catholic Church do not see themselves as one church in communion with each other.

You said:
... we see them as the one church as our marriage is now one.

Unfortunately the two of you getting married does not unite two churches with millions or billions of members. It's a bit more involved! However, your wife could convert to Coptic Catholicism which is in union with the Catholic Church. Then she could enjoy her traditions and liturgy within the boundaries of the one church. The only problem is there probably isn't a Coptic Catholic church near you.

Eric

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Daniel —

You have to remember that when the child is baptized in the Coptic Church they will receive First Communion and Confirmation at the same time. In other words, do not count on your child having a traditional Roman Catholic First Communion [and/or] Confirmation.

  • Has your wife ever considered becoming a “Coptic Catholic?”

Actually, you may want to consider becoming a Coptic Catholic yourself. Coptic Catholics are under the Pope. Of course, her Church would not look on that favorably so I don't mean to be offensive to her.

As to a Baptism there, and a further blessing in the Catholic Church, there is no such thing.
It is not like dual citizenship. Your child cannot be both.

The child can be exposed to both traditions of course, but eventually, the person must choose. Until he does, what he is, is what he was baptized as.

Fr. Jonathan

Daniel replied:

Fr. Jonathan said:

  • Has your wife ever considered becoming a Coptic Catholic?

Mike,

That is not wanted by both of us and it is her basically turning her back on her church, which
I don't want her to do and I don't believe God does either.

I was told that we recognize each other sacraments by both priests prior to our wedding and both Popes are working very hard to bring these churches back together — It is the number priority for the new Coptic Pope, so I am very confused with this response.

I don't feel that our God is seeing me and my wife as two different individuals because of how we have be raised.

I was hoping that there would be more guidance in this situation to bring and merge to two of us as like we pray for the one church every Mass.

Thanks,

Daniel

Mike replied:

Hi Daniel,

You said:
I was told that we recognize each other sacraments by both priests prior to our wedding and both Popes are working very hard to bring these churches back together — It is the number priority for the new Coptic Pope, so I am very confused with this response.

I don't feel that our God is seeing me and my wife as two different individuals because of how we have be raised.

I was hoping that there would be more guidance in this situation to bring and merge to two of us as like we pray for the one church every Mass.

I'm a little confused by your response as well.

You said:
I know we pray for the one church every Mass as they were many years ago.

Since you acknowledge here that we don't have a unity in faith, you also have to acknowledge that, no matter how close your wife's beliefs are to yours, there is still a difference. You and your wife have to decide whether you are going to keep your marital promises to raise the children Catholic or change faiths.

The choice is solely yours as a couple, but, as Eric said, you can't raise a child with two different faiths no matter how similar they are.

Fr. Jonathan said:
The child can be exposed to both traditions of course, but eventually, the person must choose. Until he does, what he is, is what he was baptized as.

That said, I would recall what Cardinal Law said when he was bishop of Missouri. He said:

The most ecumenical thing a Catholic can do is be unmistakably Catholic.

I would also say to any non-Catholic Coptic Christian:

The most ecumenical thing a non-Catholic Coptic Christian can do is be unmistakably non-Catholic Coptic Christian.

The choice is yours! though we have a long history.

Mike

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