Can I, as a JW, marry a Catholic?

My boyfriend is Catholic and I am a Jehovah’s Witness. I’m disfellowshipped now, but I plan to get reinstated and remain a Witness. I’ve been married before to another Witness in a Kingdom Hall and I was baptized as a JW (though I’m told Catholics don’t recognize the baptism because we don’t get baptized in the Trinity). My ex-husband and I got a divorce quite a while ago so it is no longer recognized by the state at least. Not sure about how the Catholic Church views it.

My boyfriend and I want to get married, but I want to know what I have to go through to get married by his priest in his Church. I’ve heard anywhere from taking two years of RCIA classes before I can get married to just having to sit down with a priest and go over our plans for ourselves and any children we have in the future.

Do we just have to sit down with the priest or do I have to go to classes or what? I’m pretty confused about this and my boyfriend isn’t sure either as he’s never been married before and obviously not to someone of a different religion. I’m just trying to do some research so I’ll know what to expect and if I want to go through all of it or simply have a JP marry us.

I feel the need, after some former misinterpretation of myself, to express that we are fully prepared for the consequences of marrying someone of another religion. We know that sometimes it will be difficult, but marriage is all about compromise and certainly marrying someone of the same faith doesn’t guarantee you a perfect life either. I can certainly attest to that.

Any help and advice you all could offer would be really great. Thanks!

There are two questions packed in here although not expressed in so many words: “Can I, as a Jehovah’s Witness, marry a Catholic?” and “Should I, as a JW, marry a Catholic?”

To marry a Catholic, your previous marriage will need to be placed before a Catholic marriage tribunal and declared null. If this happens, then you and your boyfriend will be free to marry. He will need a dispensation from his bishop to marry you and to marry in a non-Catholic ritual if you are not married according to Catholic ritual. In the meantime, however, he is not free to date you or to plan marriage with you because he must presume – unless and until a marriage tribunal declares otherwise – that you are a married woman.

Moving on to the question of “Should?”: At a marriage to a non-Catholic and/or a non-Christian, a Catholic must promise to continue to practice his Catholic faith and to do his best to raise any children as Catholics. This is not something he can “compromise” on. Because Catholics believe Catholicism to be the religion founded by Jesus Christ, in order to be good Catholics they must do their best to hand on their religion to their children.

You will not be required to promise to raise the children Catholic, but will be informed of his obligation to do so. The religion you profess has extremely antagonistic views of the Catholic Church, and its mission consists in part to pull Catholics away from their faith. How will you, as a JW, be able to support your husband’s and children’s commitment to Catholicism? You will naturally want to pass on your beliefs to your children, but are considering entering a marriage in which your prospective husband will have to promise to try to raise those children in a religion your own religious community believes to be spiritually dangerous.

I urge you to consider that marriage is not just the legalization of a romance. It is the creation of a family, in which husband and wife support each other in their religious faith and raise their children to love and serve God. These purposes of marriage make interfaith marriages extremely difficult, especially when one of the represented religions is antagonistic toward the other. It may be better for you and your friend to part and find spouses who can help you both in your respective commitments to love and serve God. God bless.

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