Can I be Catholic?

Dear brothers and sisters in humanity and in Christ,

I have just changed my religion to ‘Christian’ from ‘Catholic’. I want to be Catholic but there are some issues, and I would appreciate your attention on this matter, if you have some throughts to share out of love.

I was baptized in the Church of England, and confirmed a Lutheran, but purely for family reasons. I considered myself Christian, and did not care to think too much about denominations.

Fast forward to now, and in late 2010 I moved to Korea out of love for a woman who became my wife in March 2011. She was divorced and Buddhist. At the start of this year, I felt an increasing need for Christ, especially following the birth of our baby. I had been quite spiritually open, while always keeping Jesus in my heart. But I lacked any practical devotion. My wife said the only Christian church she would consider going to would be a Catholic one (Evangelical Protestants don’t have a great reputation among Buddhists in Korea).

Anyway, a few months on, and I am at a crossroads. We have been attending a lovely parish catering for foreigners, and I have been fully embracing Catholicism. Yet, the only way I can fully take part in the Eucharist, according to my priest, is if my wife converts to Catholicism. We have also been told to put our baby’s baptism on hold. This is because she is divorced. As it turns out, my wife now is also embracing Catholicism.

BUT, firstly her conversion is not guaranteed, she is still learning. Secondly, I feel uncomfortable that the only way I can effectively be fully welcomed into Catholicism is if my wife converts?

Is Christianity, including Catholicism, not all about forgiveness? Who are we to judge the sins of others?

Moreover, I want my baby to be baptized, ideally in the Catholic Church.

This issue is dragging on, and even though my wife has declared her intention to convert, there is no instruction currently available for her at our parish, so she is effectively learning at home, which is not really that effective.

Please tell me why we should not consider a Christian denomination that will accept us, including our past sins, and allow us to joyfully take part in parish life without feeling like outsiders in quarantine. At least may I not be able to receive the sacraments while my wife takes her time, particularly considering I have only sincerely discovered Catholicism since my marriage and since my baby was born.

Thank you for your time.

David Alexander

Good point, I agree.

You should. I certainly would. Being catholic is difficult. If I were searching for a Christian religion, I would go for a “once saved always saved” church for sure.

But I want to feel close to Jesus Christ and God, and I feel Catholicism has helped me do that in a way that I never previously imagined, through my research, my extended Bible, my rosary beads, through every aspect I have encountered EXCEPT for the fact I feel unwelcome :frowning:

Yes my priest may tell me God loves me, but those words are empty from the mouth of one who will not himself offer me the greatest gift the Church has to offer.

I do not mind being patient, and I will sacrifice, but there is something distasteful about the Church’s refusal of some people based on something they can no longer practically do anything about, let alone the sins we commit now and may commit in the future.

This issue is really breaking my heart :frowning:

If you are reading this, and you think this is just ‘another one of those threads’, or even if you have an answer you think I may not wish to hear…please join this thread anyway - it would mean a lot to me.

Thank you.

You have already said you have a priest. He is the best one to advise you, especially since you say your wife is divorced.

Patience, my friend. God wants you with Him in His Church. There may be certain things that will need to be taken care of first, but don’t be fooled into something “easier” because what seems easier now, will make things more difficult in the “ever shall be” as Jesus Christ wished us to be united as one, just as He and His Father are One; don’t leave the One Church our Lord founded.

Going to another denomination would be akin to this analogy:
You’re looking for a computer to do work-research for your boss (paralleled to desiring to be in the Catholic Church to know and serve God)
Someone offers you a TV instead (a different denomination).
You get to see different, research-related things on the news that help you with your research (just how you would learn different Truths at another denomination’s parish).
However, you never are able to get the data you need to fully complete the research your boss wanted you to find (the other denominations won’t bring you to the fullness of GOD’s TRUTH)

My greatest concern would be getting your wife and child baptized though. Someone else will need to touch on that.

I will be praying for you!

David, the Catholic Church welcomes everyone, but the Church also expects you to repent of your sins and to not persist in sin.

In your case, it doesn’t seem that there is any real problem other than there are some things to work out that will take a little time. Be patient. There isn’t any rush.

You can attend mass and join in the life of the parish while things are being worked out, even before you are received into the Church.

The big problem I see in your situation is your wife’s previous marriage. It is not an insurmountable obstacle if she wishes to convert to the Catholic religion, but it will take time to get everything straightened out.

Be patient.

Well, I’ve been a catholic my whole life. I’ve never felt welcome either. I’ve never felt any closeness to God at all. But I’m glad that you do.

Don’t be too hard on the priest. Really, it’s not up to him. He’s bound by cannon law. You should pursue an annulment.

Agreed, hence my advice to seek out a OSAS Protestant church.
I can’t imagine why *anyone * would want to become a catholic.

Don’t let it. Persevere and it will happen. You need to seek out a good canon lawyer, if you are really committed to this.

Two reasons why not:

  1. His wife said the only Christian religion she would consider is Catholicism
  2. Catholicism is true Christianity. Those protestant religions are not.

True enough. I was saying what I would do. Protestantism is much easier to do than catholicism.

or you can just go church shopping

I have several Catholic churches where I live and some of them are strict!!!

and some are more lax and friendly and they will accept you, no matter what

just gotta find that right church - I did - and I visited like 7 churches :smiley:

Thank you everyone for your replies.

Isn’t it crazy that the only way I can receive the sacraments is to renounce my marriage and abandon my baby?

To broadly answer the above. My priest was very welcoming and warm initially but we reached a point where he had reviewed our situation (including a private meeting with my wife and I) and decided that the only way forward would be for my wife to convert. At that stage, my wife was reluctant, perhaps 50-50, and I just put my faith in God that what will be will be, I still felt I wanted to be Catholic even without the sacraments.

But in the months since then, my priest seems to have grown distant, and avoids conversations and eye contact. I tried to pass it off as a coincidence, but even my father asked if he was always so distracted (when visiting me in Korea, I took him to Mass). For the first few visits he was always so warm, so it seems strange. He may well have some other stuff going on, but I do see him being warm to others. Sorry if that seems self-indulgent, I do very much respect my priest, especially his homilies.

I can also ‘buy into’ this idea of being made to wait a little. A waiting period is not a bad thing.

But my wife’s marriage cannot be annulled. It was a Buddhist ceremony, involving non-baptized persons. Apparently that is a valid marriage. So conversion is the only way.

Meanwhile, my baby remains unbaptized (now 9 months old), I remain kept apart from the sacraments I crave (though the rosary is an immense source of comfort), my wife retains Buddhist cultural roots and I am just trying to work out what I should do next.

BUT thank you for your comments. They are comforting. I am determined to perservere. I just wish as Christians we could have the ability to show full mercy to all sinners, no matter the sin, as long as they repent.

Here in the US it is the middle of the night, so be patient with wanting replies. Although many CAF members live all over the globe, most are on the North American continent. Personally, I should have been in bed hours ago – but perhaps Our Lord kept me online to say hello to my brother in Christ across the ocean :slight_smile:

Many, many, many people convert before/without their spouses. What you would not be able to do is receive Holy Communion until (and unless) your wife’s previous marriage is determined to be null (given a “decree of nullity”) – or if you and your wife agree to live as brother and sister (no marital relations) until (and unless) her previous marriage is declared null.

It is a very difficult cross to bear – to remain celibate with the mother of your child. But keeping God’s commands is sooooo worth it! If you were to join a non-Catholic Church, you would probably know in your heart that something was missing and that you weren’t really following Him fully.

See what it would take for your wife to file annulment papers – whether she would need to be Catholic to do that, or if she could because you are becoming Catholic.

I’ve tried to write more, but my mind is just wandering too much to be coherent. On this side of the pond, it’s just time for sleep :yawn:

God bless you, dear one. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.


Perhaps it’s easier on Earth. Later on it may be a lot tougher…

Thank you again for that reply, just before you sleep :slight_smile:

Living like brother and sister would probably be enough to push my wife away from Christianity to be honest, if not destroy our young marriage. Honestly I would consider that kind of sacrifice, but I cannot inflict it on my wife.

And as above (which you may not have seen as you were probably typing), annulment is not an option.

Isn’t there the "pauline privalege’ that would make you wives first marriage invalid making her after confession free to marry you?

Look at it objectively. If your wife’s first marriage was valid, then you are living with another man’s wife. As long as you continue doing that, you are sinning, as an objective matter. You can’t receive the sacraments while living in sin.

But in the months since then, my priest seems to have grown distant, and avoids conversations and eye contact.

I don’t know what kind of conversations you have had with your priest, but you need stop fighting the Church and ask your priest to help you work things out. If you do that he won’t have any reason to avoid you.

But my wife’s marriage cannot be annulled. It was a Buddhist ceremony, involving non-baptized persons. Apparently that is a valid marriage. So conversion is the only way.

You are not the tribunal, so that is not your judgment to make.

It is true that your wife may be (or even probably is) validly married. But you seem to realize that her conversion provides another option.

Be patient and work with the Church.

David, I’m sorry you’re going through a rough time.

Have you officially converted to catholicism and been received into the church yet? I’m not an expert but I think if you’ve converted you should be able to be welcomed as a catholic even if you have to sort some things out before receiving the eucharist.

Your parish doesn’t offer instruction, is there another one fairly nearby that does? You might have to travel a little but getting proper instruction is important. Look for an RCIA class to inquire into.

Your priest may be delaying baptism because he needs to be sure that your child will be raised catholic. If there is one catholic parent and both parents agree then there shouldn’t be a problem. If neither of you have converted yet then he probably won’t baptize, especially if he senses you have doubts.

Your wife will need to get her first marriage annulled before your marriage becomes valid. You may have to remarry in the church.

I know it’s a lot of hoops to jump through but if you’re determined to become catholic then you’ll just have to do it.

Best of luck.

Nightranger, Christ said to take up our cross and follow him, not that it would be easy.

Yes, many of us are all over the globe. I can’t really advise you much on the whole marriage thing, as I am young, but I was born a cradle Catholic, lukewarm.

I stopped going after my first communion. 6-8 years later, I am back dragging my baggage of sins, boy was I glad to be back!
As for you Good things DO come for those who wait. In time when you and your spouse get accepted in communion and children baptized, you will see it was worth it.

I’m certainly no expert. But what has “conversion” got to do with it? Something doesn’t sound right here. There are many millions of catholics who are married to non-catholics.
Again, you need to talk to a canon lawyer.

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