Can an interfaith relationship work?

I have been dating a devout Catholic for close to four months. As my feelings grew, knowing the commitment required entering marriage with a Catholic, I researched. I also read that marriage with a non-Catholic is allowed if the Catholic has full intentions to remain devoted to the Church and raise the children within the Church. We discussed marriage and children and I had agreed to attend Mass and do my best to support the children being raised as Catholics but that I would at times still like to attend my church’s Friday night services. I go to the church my ex used to go to – he has been Catholic only a few years – by myself (he is not allowed to go).

He has recently ended the relationship due to his priest telling him he shouldn’t be with me because the marriage will not work and will have conflict because I am not Catholic. The priest has never asked to meet or speak with me and has also told him he has a calling to priesthood, which my ex does not want to do. I’m conflicted as I thought he would want to help – my ex has never had feelings of love before me, saw a future with me, and is very torn. He told me he follows the most devout version of Catholicism and 9 out of 10 Catholics don’t know what being a Catholic is. Is this priest correct that a Catholic/non-Catholic marriage would never work even though we both have a strong faith and I have agreed to the commitments and know aspects of the Catholic Church I myself would enjoy?

Your feedback would certainly help some of my confusion. God bless.

I’d be interested to know where exactly your ex-boyfriend is going to church and the affiliation of the priest who counseled him. From what you’ve said here, I wonder if the priest who counseled your friend is a mainstream Catholic priest. Most Catholic priests would not “disallow” your friend from attending your church with you as an occasional guest, they would not tell him he shouldn’t consider marriage with you because you are not Catholic (particularly without meeting you and assessing the individual situation), and would not announce to someone interested in marriage that he has a vocation to the priesthood instead.

In my personal opinion, interfaith relationships have the potential to pose grave difficulties for a couple, but those difficulties are not insurmountable – especially when the non-Catholic party is willing to attend Mass with the family and is willing to allow the Catholic to remain Catholic and raise their children Catholic. The Church makes possible dispensations for Catholics to marry non-Catholics, with the provision that the Catholic sign an agreement promising to remain true to his faith and to do his best to raise the children Catholic. The Church requires that the non-Catholic party must be made aware of the Catholic’s obligations, but does not require conversion or that the non-Catholic party sign a similar agreement.

It sounds to me that your friend might be involved in a strain of Catholic Traditionalism that is outside of the mainstream of the Catholic Church. If that is the case, it might be best to allow time to heal your wounded heart and to move on. I pray for you that the Lord will lead you to a good Christian man, one who will share your beliefs and will be manly enough to defend his relationship with you in a manner in keeping with his Christian beliefs and his church’s teachings. And I also pray that you find it in your heart not to allow this disappointment to negatively impact your impressions of the Catholic Church. God bless.

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