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'Quick Help' Page: Marriage To Non-Catholic (Mixed Marriage)

 

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Marriage to a Non-Catholic

Mixed Marriage

Mixed Marriages

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Why are some traditional teachings regarding marriage to a non-Catholic?

 

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As stated in the Baltimore Catechism... (emphasis added)

Q. Does the Church forbid the marriage of Catholics with persons who have a different religion or no religion at all?

A. The Church does forbid the marriage of Catholics with persons who have a different religion or no religion at all.

Q. Why does the Church forbid marriage of Catholics with persons who have a different religion or no religion at all?

A. The Church forbids the marriage of Catholics with persons who have a different religion or no religion at all, because such marriages generally lead to indifference, loss of faith, and to the neglect of the religious education of the children.

Q. What are the marriages of Catholics with persons of a different religion called, and when does the Church permit them by dispensation?

A. The marriages of Catholics with persons of a different religion are called mixed marriages. The Church permits them by dispensation only under certain conditions and for urgent reasons; chiefly to prevent a greater evil.

Q. What are the conditions upon which the Church will permit a Catholic to marry one who is not Catholic?

A. The conditions upon which the Church will permit a Catholic to marry one who is not a Catholic are: (1) That the Catholic be allowed the free exercise of his or her religion; (2) That the Catholic shall try by teaching and good example to lead the one who is not a Catholic to embrace the true faith; (3) That all the children born the of the marriage shall be brought up in the Catholic religion. The marriage ceremony must not be repeated before a heretical 'minister'. Without these promises, the Church will not consent to a mixed marriage, and if the Church does not consent, the marriage is unlawful.

Q. What penalty does the Church impose on Catholics who marry before Protestant 'minister'?

A. [Traditionally,] Catholics who marry before a Protestant 'minister' incur excommunication; that is, a censure of the Church or spiritual penalty which prevents them from receiving the Sacrament of Penance till the priest who hears their confession gets special faculties or permission from the bishop; because by such a marriage they make profession of a false religion in acknowledging as a priest one who has neither sacred power nor authority.

Q. How does the Church show its displeasure at mixed marriages?

A. The Church [traditionally] shows its displeasure at mixed marriages by the coldness with which it sanctions them, prohibiting all religious ceremony at them, by forbidding the priest to use any sacred vestments, holy water or blessing of the rings at such marriages; by prohibiting them also from taking place in the church or even in the sacristy. On the other hand, the Church shows its joy and approval at a true Catholic marriage by the Nuptial Mass and solemn ceremonies.

Q. Why should Catholics avoid mixed marriages?

A. Catholics should avoid mixed marriages (1) Because they are displeasing to the Church and cannot bring with them the full measure of God's grace and blessing; (2) Because the children should have the good example of both parents in the practice of their religion; (3) Because such marriages give rise to frequent disputes on religious questions between husband and wife and between their relatives; (4) Because the one not a Catholic, disregarding the sacred character of the Sacrament, may claim a divorce and marry again, leaving the Catholic married and abandoned.

Q. Does the Church seek to make converts by its laws concerning mixed marriages?

A. The Church does not seek to make converts by its laws concerning mixed marriages, but seeks only the keep its children from losing their faith and becoming perverts by constant company with persons not Catholics. The Church does not wish persons to become Catholics merely for the sake of marrying Catholics. Such conversions are, as a rule, not sincere, do no good, but rather make such converts hypocrites and guilty of greater sins, especially sins of sacrilege. [Note: Of course there would not be such concerns in cases of true conversion.]


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