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Rose Johnson wrote:

Hi, guys —

I'm eighteen years old. I have someone in my family who is a non-Catholic Christian. She has been married and divorced a few times.

  • Do I have to tell her that her current relationship is wrong?
  • If so, how would I go about doing this?
  • Is it a sin for me to visit her?

Also, I have a cousin who is getting married who is also not a Catholic, which means the couple will probably use birth control. Unfortunately, that seems to be the norm, even for most Catholics.

They are a lot older than I and I don't know them that well.

  • Do I have an obligation to tell them that birth control is wrong?
  • Is it a sin to go to their wedding?

Basically, I need to know to what extent do I need to tell people when they are doing things wrong. In the past I told a family member that I did not believe her marriage was valid and my mother got really mad at me.

I once asked my priest about this type of situation and he said that I only need to share my beliefs if I am asked about them.

  • Is he right?



  { Does the Church require me to tell her that her relationship and birth control are wrong? }

Bob replied:


You have to use a good amount of discretion when confronting someone about sin, especially if the area involved is ambiguous and you can't see all the facts as God sees them. When it comes to marriage, re-marriage, divorce, and the like, sometimes the situations are complex — and in our Church it takes a Marriage Tribunal to sort it out.

When it comes to birth control, it is always wrong and you could be doing a great service to help people save marriages by witnessing about God's design for marriage. For example, my wife and I have handed out some CD's that have a teaching on the subject from the Catholic viewpoint that can be challenging and eye-opening for people. Still, we use discretion when passing one out to someone but we do it as an act of love. You have to let the Lord lead you in when, where, and to whom you should witness.

An ever present risk is that, if the person does not seek your counsel, you may end up hurting the your relationship with them. Keep in mind that it is not required that we directly confront every evil with words. Sometimes a better witness is loving someone while living a holy life and waiting for an opportunity to share when we have earned the person's respect and trust.

That being said, we must always confront evil when it affects laws and authority over people. We would not stand idly by and let abortions happen without protesting the injustice of the procedure and law that protects it.

So your priest is mostly right. In personal situations, wait until asked or until there is an appropriate and loving way to witness, but in the public arena, be a strong voice to defend what is right no matter if you are consulted or not.


Bob Kirby

Fr. Jonathan replied:


I like your enthusiasm but I would advise against confronting the non-Catholics with these things.

  1. Treat them with generosity and mercy and they will be asking you the questions of faith.
  2. Treat them with accusations and you may be turning them away from religion.

Fr. Jonathan

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