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Wanda WhatRiteAmI wrote:

Hi, guys —

As a Roman rite Catholic, I married a Byzantine rite Catholic. We agreed that the type of rite did not matter as much as the fact that we were Catholic and that, when we had children, we would also raise them Catholic. We got married in my church (a Roman rite church) in the late 1990's.

At the time, there was no indication that I was required to switch to the Byzantine rite; so,
I never did. I did, however, attend my husband's Byzantine Catholic church and followed the regulations of the Roman rite (the Holy days of obligation, fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, etc).

I have met a number of other women in the Byzantine rite church we attend who were in the same circumstance that I was in, who said that they had to convert to the Byzantine rite, or that they automatically became Byzantine rite when they married (i.e. they previously belonged to the Roman rite and their husbands were Byzantine rite).

However, I was told by two different Byzantine priests that technically I am still a Roman rite Catholic. I am still not sure if I belong to the Roman rite, and if not, how I could go back to that rite, especially considering that I never agreed (or took a vow) to become a Byzantine rite Catholic when we got married.



  { As a Roman rite Catholic, when I married my Byzantine rite husband, did I change my rite? }

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Dear Wanda —

One would have to make a conscious choice to switch to the Rite of her husband and it would be recorded. Since you never made a conscious choice and I assume it was not recorded, you are still a Roman Catholic.

I can imagine that some husbands and Byzantine priests insist upon it in a way where by those women felt it was mandatory but it is not mandatory and since you did not make the choice on your own, you are, and always have been, a Roman Catholic.

Just to answer the other question (of which you do not need) it is quite simple to switch back if the marriage ends.

The relevant canon is this one from the Eastern Code of Canon Law:

(CCEO) Corpus Canonum Ecclisarum Orientalium Canon 33 – A wife is free to transfer to the Church of the husband in the celebration of or during the marriage; when the marriage has ended, she can freely return to the original Church (sui iuris "of one's own right").

Fr. Jonathan

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