Brother's future MIL an issue


#1

My brother, Niklas, is going to be marrying a lovely Catholic girl, Michelle, who our whole family just loves to pieces. The first time she came to visit for the holidays, our parents they had a mass schedule for her to the local church and read up on Catholicism were really welcoming. Her mom has been quite the opposite to my brother. Her first question was to ask when he planned to convert. He told her that he doesn’t have any plans to ever do so. (He is very blunt) The you know what really hit the fan when her and Niklas had a sit down about a future kids and he told his future MIL he felt he had no less right to teach Lutheranism as Michelle had to teach Catholic beliefs. Any books or thoughts how the communication can be made a little less confrontational?


#2

Inter-faith marriages are difficult at times, do they plan on having an interfaith service? I am not even sure if thats possible. They need to speak to a priest though, leave the mom out of it.


#3

Catholics have an obligation to marry according to the laws of the Catholic Church. In a mixed marriage situation that includes permission from the Bishop to marry a non-Catholic and the obligation and solmemn promise to raise the children as Catholic as part of that permission.

Mixed marriages are difficult. And, yes, I can see where your brother’s future MIL would be concerned that they haven’t fully thought through all of the issues and ramifications of their decision. Certainly sounds like there could have been more charity all the way around in the conversation, but it doesn’t change the very serious subject matter. As a Catholic your brother’s fiancee is obligated to raise her children Catholic.


#4

The Catholic party is obliged to promise to do everything in her power to raise the children Catholic, and may not even consider marrying a non-Catholic if it would put her own faith and practice in jeopardy. If the non-Catholic party cannot accept this the couple (not the in-laws and parents) should get serious pastoral counselling before they attempt marriage as they are intending to introduce conflict from its inception on a fundamental issue. Raising children in 2 faiths is to raise them in neither and teach them truth is relative, which is a false idea.


#5

If your brother respects this woman, he will respect her faith and know she must do all in her power to raise her kids Catholic. Should he be unable to permit her to practice her faith, he should be a man of integrity and walk away now, let her find a spouse who will share or at least respect her faith.


#6

One thought: (and please don’t take this* too* personal…) I imagine a multitude in-law problems if your brother’s entire family gets involved with trying to “fix” the problems your brother has with his wife’s family. Let your brother and especially his future wife deal with her mother. If your brother wants our advice,* he* can ask us.:wink: And if he asked me, I’d suggest he let his fiance deal with her mom. It’s far less confrontational that way if spouses deal with their own respective families rather than letting it become “in-law” issues. Your brother doesn’t need to deal with his future mother in law right now–he needs to deal with his own well-meaning family members.


#7

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has a website about the Catholic understanding of marriage. The section on marriaages between Catholic and non-Catholics may be of particular interest to your brother and his fiance.

foryourmarriage.org/interior_template.asp?id=20398787

They may want to track down one or two of the books this site references, and perhaps share some of those with her mother. As others have pointed out, this is mostly a conversation that is best handled primarily between your brother and his fiance and his fiance and her mother.


#8

[quote="Thomas63116, post:7, topic:186035"]
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has a website about the Catholic understanding of marriage. The section on marriaages between Catholic and non-Catholics may be of particular interest to your brother and his fiance.

foryourmarriage.org/interior_template.asp?id=20398787

They may want to track down one or two of the books this site references, and perhaps share some of those with her mother. As others have pointed out, this is mostly a conversation that is best handled primarily between your brother and his fiance and his fiance and her mother.

[/quote]

Ah, this is the kind of thing I think will be of help. As for other advice, I agree. It is his issue to deal with. I just wanted to help him with a starting point. It will be interesting. Her family is very demonstrative and he is very stoic at times but with a biting, dry sense of humor as well. A clash of styles among other things. But Michelle and Niklas somehow mesh quite well.


#9

First of all, your family is to be commended for the way they reached out to his fiance. That being said, your brother will have to come to grips with one thing, he will have to agree to raise the kids catholic. That’s the church law. It may not seem fair to the non-Catholic spouse, but thats the way it is.
Also, for the good of the family, he should not rule out the possibility of converting this early.


#10

You wouldn’t happen to have a link (or other source) for this, do you? The reason I ask, is because I thought it was the Catholic party’s responsibility to raise the children Catholic, and the non-Catholic didn’t have to promise/agree to anything, just made aware of the Catholic’s responsibility. :slight_smile: Thanks!


#11

I could never say never, especially for someone else, but Niklas is by far the most devout one in the family. I have a hard time believing they have not discussed this as he’s a detail guy. He does nothing to break the stereotype of Germans being meticulous.


#12

Can. 1125 The local ordinary can grant a permission of this kind if there is a just and reasonable cause. He is not to grant it unless the following conditions have been fulfilled:

1/ the Catholic party is to declare that he or she is prepared to remove dangers of defecting from the faith and is to make a sincere promise to do all in his or her power so that all offspring are baptized and brought up in the Catholic Church;

2/ the other party is to be informed at an appropriate time about the promises which the Catholic party is to make, in such a way that it is certain that he or she is truly aware of the promise and obligation of the Catholic party;

3/ both parties are to be instructed about the purposes and essential properties of marriage which neither of the contracting parties is to exclude.

I guess you are correct, but in practise, my statement would be correct if both parties are being honest. If the non-catholic party knows that the catholic party has to promise to do “all in his/her power” to raise the kids in the faith, it would be quite disingenuous to go forward with the marriage without agreement of this point from the non-catholic party. I can’t imagine letting someone I love make a sincere commitment, knowing at the time I was going to stand in the way.


#13

What exactly does “all in one’s power” mean? And, what if it is the Catholic party who isn’t so comfortable with #1 and refused to make that promise? —*just asking.


#14

All in one’s power is pretty much self explanitory.

If the Catholic won’t promise, they will not be given permission to marry.


#15

Well, actually. It's not self-explanatory. It's sounds rather Malcolm X-like "by any means necessary!!" but I'm guessing that it doesn't mean taking up arms or tying up one's spouse as the Catholic member of the household leaves for mass with guns blazing. Of course I am being overly dramatic to make a point. This is a bit new to me, so I'm just trying to get a good handle on it for my own edification. What if the other party were to say he/she planned to do all in their power to raise the children in a different faith? I'm guess they would not be given permission to marry. Would that be correct?


#16

To answer the second question first: if the catholic party refuses to make the promise? I should have posted canon 1124 instead of starting at 1125.

Can. 1124 Without express permission of the competent authority, a marriage is prohibited between two baptized persons of whom one is baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it after baptism and has not defected from it by a formal act and the other of whom is enrolled in a Church or ecclesial community not in full communion with the Catholic Church.
Can. 1125 The local ordinary can grant a permission of this kind if there is a just and reasonable cause. He is not to grant it unless the following conditions have been fulfilled:

1/ the Catholic party is to declare that he or she is prepared to remove dangers of defecting from the faith and is to make a sincere promise to do all in his or her power so that all offspring are baptized and brought up in the Catholic Church;

So in other words, a mixed marriage is pprhibited unless the local bishop says its ok and the local bishop cannot say its ok without receiving that promise from the catholic spouse. I hope that answers your question.

What does "all in his or her power " mean? It pretty much means what it says, ie 1) it highlights the seriousness of the promise and 2) once made, the catholic spouse can’t suddenly stop trying to keep the promise because the non-catholic spouse is not cooperating.

The effect of this is that for a marriage to be valid, both parties have to be in agreement of this at the time of the marriage. Even though the non-catholic spouse does not make the promise, he/she must know about it and understand its seriousness. If he/she does not consent at the time of the marriage, it can be assumed that the marriage would not be valid since he/she is planning on obstructing the catholic spouse from carrying out a critical marital commitment.


#17

It sure seems like a harsh and brutal law when you are first introduced to it in this day and age where religious faith is relegated to the backseat and afterthought status in the big decisions of life. But that is precisely the problem! Too many go merrily on their way expecting God to bless whatever plan they come up with and then express shock and horror when He raises an obstacle instead.

Catholicism takes itself pretty seriously. How can she NOT when she believes that she was created and instituted by Christ himself and intended to be THE church that preserves and proclaims the gospel to the ages? How can she NOT take seriously the idea of her children marrying into offshoot religions that have discarded important portions of the faith handed down by Christ?

It all comes down to this. If we DIDN’T have a restrictive policy against intermarriage, it would be a de facto statement that the differences aren’t all that big a deal. But they ARE to believers. Is the fiance aware that your brother has every intention of teaching their future kids Lutheran doctrines?

For me, that was a deal breaker I recognized early on and stopped dating protestant girls, wonderful as many were. A common faith is too important to relegate to back burner status. I haven’t regretted the decision and I highly recommend the policy to any and all single people who will listen to me. Most of them think I’m nuts, but I can live with that! Put God FIRST! The rest falls into place.


#18

I have no idea what either of them plan when it comes to this. I don’t think it’s my place, at least at this point in time, to ask. But I am sure it’s something they’ve discussed. I can’t imagine it any other way. From the few things she’s said in passing I think she would make a better Lutheran than he would a Catholic, but one never knows.


#19

I would tend to agree that it is not your place, especially since you are the brother of the non-catholic party, to inquire about this issue. I was simply trying to answer your questions about the issue, not necessarily direct your actions. I suspect, based on your first post that her family is making it an issue. I do hope you can now understand her parents point of view on this issue and not necessarily consider them to be the opposite of welcoming.
God bless.


#20

It's been very enlightening to read the responses. I'm enjoying everyone's perspectives.


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