Can a Catholic Marry a Non-Catholic?


Hi, my name’s Fr. Mike Schmidtz and this
is Ascension Presents. So one of the questions that I get a lot is “If I’m Catholic,
can I marry someone who’s not Catholic?” Short answer is yeah, you can.
Here’s the conditions for that. So, if you’re Catholic,
can you marry someone who’s not Catholic? Yeah.
You have to get married in the Catholic Church. If you don’t get married
in the Catholic Church, you need express permission
from your bishop to be married according to another Rite
outside of the Catholic Church. If you do get married in the Catholic Church
and you’re the Catholic party — you know, you’re the Catholic spouse — you have to make what we call in our diocese a “pre-nuptial declaration and promise.” And that sounds intimidating,
but basically, it’s three parts. It says
“I reaffirm my faith in Jesus Christ and with God’s help I intend to continue living out that faith in the Catholic Church.” So, basically, I’m Catholic,
I plan on being Catholic the rest of my life. Number two is,
“At the same time I acknowledge the respect I owe to the conscience
of my future partner in marriage.” They don’t believe what I
believe, but I respect them and I honor them. Number three is “For my part I will
see to it that I do everything I can to have our children baptized
and educated as Catholics.” So again, three things:
Catholic, plan on being Catholic, I respect the future partner
(my future spouse in marriage). Third, when it comes down to kids, where I stand is, I want to have them
baptized and educated as Catholics. That’s not taking any responsibility
or authority away from your spouse. It’s just making it very clear that,
when it comes down to it, this is where I’m gonna stand. This is what I would want. If the person is willing to sign that and go through all the marriage prep
and stuff like that, it is possible for a Catholic
to marry a non-Catholic. All that’s to say:
this is not a sin issue. Sometimes there are sin issues,
like “that’s a wrong thing to do.” This not a sin issue.
But it is a wisdom issue. It’s a really critical distinction
I want to make. I know I’m gonna hear this,
maybe in the comments and everything below — people saying like,
wait a second, I know a couple — he’s not Catholic, she is, and they’re awesome and they’re so good and he helps her out a ton. Great. Or someone who’s gonna say, well I know two people who are super Catholic, really devoted,
and it did not work out. I understand. So, is it impossible for a couple who’s
Catholic and not Catholic to work out? Absolutely not. Is it guaranteed that a couple who is both — they’re both Catholic — that it’s
definitely gonna work out? No, it’s not unfortunately. But this is still
a wisdom issue, and I remember when it came across in my life,
really really upfront: my first year of priesthood. There were two couples, they’d both been
married, in their 20- or 30- year anniversaries. And I spoke to these two
couples on two different occasions, completely unrelated to each other,
within a space of two weeks. And they both said the same thing. I wasn’t even digging for it,
they just volunteered their information. The one Catholic party said
“Yeah, you know, I love my husband and I love our kids. But if I had to do it over again,
I would have married someone who’s Catholic.” And the other person, two weeks later,
another couple said the exact same thing. I remember thinking both times “Oh, this is awkward, ‘cause your spouse
is right there.” But I noticed that their spouses were nodding
and they agreed, and said yeah. Because marriage is hard enough. It’s difficult enough to be
married to someone that, if you’re not united in the most core area of your life,
it makes it even more difficult. And so again, this is not a sin-issue
but it is a wisdom-issue, and because it’s a wisdom-issue
it means that moving forward in a relationship with someone who’s not Catholic is gonna mean
you have to be wise. And one of the ways we’re wise is
if we know what’s the end of marriage, what’s the goal of marriage
in the first place. Well, the Church offers us two ends of marriage,
or two reasons marriage exists: one is for the
good of the couple — the good of the spouses. The other is for the procreation
and education of children. So children are born and they’re raised as Catholics —
that’s the ends of marriage. I mean, born and raised, right?
But in the Catholic context, as Catholics. So think about this: the good of the couple. Hopefully the person you’re dating,
or person you’re considering dating, or person you’re discerning marriage with,
is good for you, right? Hopefully they’re generous
and kind and they’re patient with you, and helping to help you become more
generous and more kind and more patient. And maybe they’re okay with you living
out your faith — that’s great. They’re “Yeah, I’m totally okay with you
going to Mass. I’m even sometimes okay
going with you to Mass.” Obviously you have some boundaries
when it comes to physical intimacy, and they’re totally
okay with your physical boundaries. Those are all good things. Question: (Wisdom) Do you want someone who
is just okay with you living out your faith, or do you want someone who is
going to help you live out your faith? Do you want someone who is okay with you practicing,
following after Jesus in the Catholic Church, or do you want someone who’s going to help you follow Jesus in the Catholic Church? We know this, right? There are some days when you’re like, “Yeah, I’m totally the strong one and that’s great, that’s all I need. They’re good, they’re okay with it.” But there’s also days when you’re like
“Oh man. I need some help. But I can’t look to my partner in life for help
because they’re not there to help me grow. They’re just okay with my growth.” Is this person gonna help you grow
in your relationship with Jesus in the Catholic Church? Because otherwise what’s it gonna be — I mean, honestly think about this —
on the shallow end it means “Okay, we go to Sunday Mass.” You know, maybe they’re okay with it right now,
but what about when you’re on vacation and he or she has plans, you know that
“I was gonna go golfing early this morning.” “No, we have to go to Mass.”
“Aw, fine.” Or every time you sit there in church
with him or with her, and the priest says something stupid,
‘cause priests say stuff that’s stupid sometimes! Or the choir’s off or whatever,
and you’re just groaning inside and just thinking
“What are they thinking about this?” You can’t even enter into prayer because you’re wondering what they’re thinking the entire time. Because they’re “okay” with this,
but they’re not helping — they’re not all on board
with this whole thing. Again, that doesn’t
mean they’re bad. And again —this is massively important and I skipped this when I did the introduction — when it comes to a Catholic
marrying a non-Catholic, that’s not to say a first-class Christian marrying a second-class Christian. That is not what I mean to imply
in ANY way, shape, or form. That non-catholic Christians, we believe,
are our full brothers and sisters in the Lord. We’re separated brethren,
but they’re just as much sons and daughters of God, just as much our brothers and sisters. So I don’t mean to talk about
this in this context of being like — it sounds like I’m saying
second-class. I don’t mean that in any way. I just mean there are a lot of things that unite us
but there’s also things that divide us, and those things that divide us
need to be addressed. Okay, back to our show. The other is the good of the children,
or to procreate and educate, right? To have our children raised as Catholics. Now we know statistically that a lot of kids
leave the faith when they turn 18, 19, 20. Those statistics are even greater when their
mom and dad aren’t united in their Catholic faith. But even think practically about this. I was thinking about this and
I actually remember talking with a young woman — she was one of our students — and she was dating. (I’ve known her and her family
ever since they were kids.) She was dating a guy on campus who she was discerning marriage with, and he wasn’t Catholic. And at one point she’s like
“So what’s the big deal anyways?” and I say “Okay, here’s the deal. A lot of reasons, but here’s one that
might mean something to you: I know that you and your brothers and sisters,
when you went through your adolescent phase, you were not always super excited
about going to Sunday Mass. And so your mom and dad, who are devoted Catholics, had to fight with you tooth and nail, every single Sunday, to get you up to get you out the door and get you off to Mass. Now, imagine if your dad didn’t care
but your mom was the faithful one. Not only would she have to fight with you to get you up
and out the door and off to Mass, but this whole time she’d have to fight
with her husband to get him up, to get him out the door,
get him off to mass. Do you want that to be
the rest of your life? That’s just, again,
that’s just getting off to mass. What happens when
you introduce your spouse to the idea of like “Oh dear, here’s the reality:
as Catholics we don’t use contraception.” Umm, so, surprise. This is gonna
cost you something too. Now, they can be okay with that,
or they can help you grow in that. Last thing, last-ish thing: I remember reading
a bunch of stuff from marriage counselors. This couple were talking about
the four deal-breakers — these are four issues
that could potentially be deal-breakers. One is faith. One Is family —
like extended family issues and stuff, do you want kids, l want kids,
that kind of thing. One is finances. And the other is
intimacy stuff, so like, sexuality issues. They said that every one of these —
if a couple can’t come to a place of unity on it — that is potentially a deal-breaker. If you can’t come to a place of unity when it comes to
your extended family or your own family, then it’s worth it to say —
pump the brakes and go would it be wise for me
to be yoked with a person that we see things really differently when it comes to family or when it comes to our finances? And when it comes to faith,
that gets to be a big deal because it IS a big deal. Again, I’m not saying
you’d have to break up, but I am saying that, if you did,
over faith? That’s not you being overly picky. Now, I’m not saying you have to break up,
but I do think here’s what should happen: you should communicate to your future spouse or to the person you’re dating that, when it comes down to it, my dream would be
to marry someone who I share the faith with. My dream is to marry someone
who’s a passionate Catholic. That’s not an ultimatum. That is simply you clearly communicating
what you want out of your marriage. And I think that’s really smart
to be able to say, to be upfront with. Because I know a ton of couples —
again, here’s my anecdotal evidence, last thing — a ton of couples on our campus who,
that’s what it was. One of them is passionately Catholic,
the other one is passionately evangelical or nothing or like agnostic or atheist. And over the course of their relationship,
they were wise. Now there’s there’s such a thing
as rushing in, and like I don’t know why
you’re running up that tree, I don’t get it… but they’ve come to know who Jesus is,
they come to love the Church and they’ve become Catholic. And it’s one of the most amazing things
to see them grow not only in their love for each other
but also to see they can totally grow in unity. But how it started was because the Catholic party said “Here’s what I would love. I’m not gonna pressure you into this, I
can’t give you my faith, but I would love for my future spouse —
whoever that is — to be united with me and loving Jesus in the Catholic Church.” And I think that’s
not imposing anything on anyone. I don’t think
it’s expecting too much and I think that it’s actually
a really good way to be really clear
about what you really want. I don’t know, maybe I’m stupid.
Maybe I’m dumb. That’s kind of
what I have to say about this though. If you disagree, you can. Don’t give a thumbs down.
Thumbs downs are stupid. Here’s why they’re stupid:
because I don’t know why he gave me a thumbs down. Is it because I didn’t shave today?
I didn’t shave today. But type why you disagree, in the thing. Comments below. Like, share, subscribe.
Okay, whatever. Goodbye! Did I already say, “From all of us here at Ascension Presents,
my name’s Fr. Mike. [clicks] Bye bye?” I meant to if I didn’t.

Michael Martin

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