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Mackenzie wrote:

Hi, guys —

My girlfriend believes in God; I do not. We've always been very respectful of our respective beliefs. We were both baptized as Roman Catholics and raised in Roman Catholic families.

As a Roman Catholic woman, you have a responsibility to:

  • marry someone of faith
  • grow spiritually with them in marriage, and
  • raise your children as Roman Catholics.

I understand what it would mean for her to marry a non-believer and to forego the spiritual dimension of a marriage with this person. I appreciate her willingness to do so. Conversely, she understands how disconcerting it would be for me to make religious vows before God in a church ceremony and to partake in future religious responsibilities but she appreciates my willingness to do so.

What has been challenging is the topic of children.

Understandably, she cannot imagine a scenario where children are not raised as Roman Catholics. She worries about the divided message a believer and a non-believer would send their children (as opposed to parents of two different faiths, but faiths nonetheless). She doesn't expect me to attend church on Sundays or to actively cultivate the children's faith in God but a vocal non-believer could negate her efforts to do so no matter how respectful and supportive dad is of mom's beliefs.

One option is for dad not to be vocal on this topic. I'm not opposed to children being raised with Roman Catholic values but I would hate to lie to them about my beliefs. Another option is not to have children.

I would appreciate any input or advice you could offer.


  { What advice do you have for a Catholic couple pondering marriage with differing faith views? }

Bob replied:

Dear friend,

I admire your willingness to support her but you will certainly face all the challenges you enumerated. If you two are determined to marry and not look elsewhere for a person more alike on this issue, I would suggest your reticence on matters of faith is appropriate.

I would not go along with the idea of having no children for, in Catholic eyes, the lack of openness to life would constitute an invalid marriage.

You can always defer your children to mom for religious matters until they are old enough to be emancipated. They will intuit the differences in their parents anyway but you should back your wife on religious practices to that point.


Bob Kirby

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