Can I refer to myself as Catholic yet?

I’ve been studying the Catholic faith for a year or so, mostly through the Catholic Home Study service. As a former Baptist, I had a lot to learn. I feel like my eyes have been opened to see the truth.

My husband was confirmed into the Catholic church as a teen, but fell away. He and I, along with our 3 children attended mass for the first time yesterday. We feel like we are home. We are ready to do what it takes to be able to receive the Eucharist, which I know is going to a long process because I have been divorced.

I am just wondering if it is proper for me to refer to myself as a Catholic, or do I need to wait until I am "officially " Catholic?


I am going through RCIA this fall. I refer to myself as Catholic because it is the religion I adhere to…even though I am not confirmed yet.

Well, you are free to call yourself whatever you think best describes you!

But if you want to get overly technical ;), anybody who is validly Baptized is, technically speaking, a member of the ‘one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church’ that we profess in the Nicene Creed. As Catholics, we understand that to refer to the Catholic Church. So people who have been Baptized in non-Catholic Christian communities are not in full communion with the Catholic Church, but are still ‘Catholics,’ albeit in an imperfect way.

Now having said that, we usually don’t refer to people who are not in full communion as being Catholics (otherwise we would have to refer to most Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Anglicans, Orthodox, and countless other Christians as ‘Catholics’ – which might be seen by many as offensive or insulting, and, if nothing else, confusing).

Your RCIA teachers will probably talk about some of the terminology with you as the classes get going. An un-Baptized person preparing to receive the Sacraments of Initiation is a ‘catechumen,’ and a Baptized non-Catholic Christian preparing to enter into full communion with the Church (which I assume is your situation) is a ‘candidate.’

When I was in the process of entering into full communion (from the United Methodist Church, in my case), I usually called myself a ‘candidate’ or told people I was in the process of converting to Catholicism. But depending on the circumstances, it was sometimes easier to just say ‘I’m Catholic’ (e.g., when I was in a large group and somebody asked why I wasn’t eating meat on Friday during Lent). It wasn’t really wrong or incorrect to say that, just imprecise. Among Catholics or my closer acquaintances, I was usually more specific.

Whatever you choose to call yourself, God bless you in your faith journey! Coming home to the Catholic Church has been one of the greatest experiences of my life!

Yes I agree with all of that; particularly well put if you don’t mind me saying so.

I agree, and welcome.


I referred to myself as Catholic before I was “officially” Catholic. I only offered an explanation (that I was not totally there yet, but on my way!) if someone asked if I was a cradle Catholic or a convert. :wink:

Actually, I had a Jewish roommate. Her elderly grandmother, who was an immigrant and a very devout Jew, referred to most non-Jewish people as “catholic.” Including all the Protestants!:smiley: We thought it was both quaint and comical.

Actually, her grandma was technically correct, theologically speaking, as it turns out, for reasons cited in a previous response.

In your case, you’ve already converted your belief to the Catholic faith. You’re just learning more of the core of the faith, and preparing to receive the Sacraments, including “regularizing” your marital situation. You probably already attend Sunday Mass and have a rosary or two. Because you’re working at this as an adult, you have more “skin in the game” and may probably eventually be an even better practicing Catholic than many who were baptized as infants. Lots of converts are, you know, and if you look at the lives of the Saints, many of our greatest saints were themselves converts. Even if you can’t yet receive the Eucharist, if you want my two cents’ worth on the matter, you’re a Catholic, and by the way, there are more people than you’d know in similar situations in the pews. I’d leave it at that for general conversation and if for some reason you’re filling out a form requesting your religious preference. You can save the finer points for explanation with those who have a need to know or an interest in knowing.

Welcome home!

Divorce will have no impact if you have not been married in the Catholic church. You and your husband may desire to have your marriage blessed officially at some point if you so choose. If your previous marriage was in the church you would first need to go thru the annulment process. Otherwise it is a matter of being recieved into the church which you should discuss with your parish priest.

Let’s let the Tribunal make that decision - a lay person can’t make a ruling over the Internet. :wink:

Thanks everyone, for your response!

Even though I am not "officially " there yet, I believe I am Catholic in my heart. I find myself explaining the whys and hows to my husband, even though he is a cradle Catholic, who attended Catholic school until eighth grade. He says it was just the way things were done, he never knew why.

We need to make an appointment with our priest to see what we need to do to get our marriage blessed. Also, I am assuming I will need to go through the process of nullity for my previous marriage before being I can be confirmed, correct?

Thanks for all your help, CAF has been a wealth of knowledge to me in this journey.
God bless!

Yes; this will take place prior to the marriage blessing. (The technical term is “convalidation.”) The whole process taken together can sometimes take a long time.

My recommendation is that, as far as possible on your own end, do everything as quickly as you can. You can’t control how fast things go with the priests and with the various offices that they have to work with regarding marriages, but if you can move as quickly as possible on your own end - don’t let any piece of paper reside in your house for more than a day, I would say - fill it out and send it back as soon as you receive it, or send it on to whoever needs to witness it, on the same day, and ask your witnesses to do the same - this will speed things up considerably for you.

God bless you in your journey of conversion! :slight_smile:


I am in almost the same boat you are in. I am going to be taking the RCIA classes this fall, and spent most of my adult life as a Baptist (although I was baptised Presbyterian). I have also been divorced, although I have not remarried. My understanding is that, since I have been divorced, I should remain unmarried and celebate, which is fine with me.

I, too, have used the Catholic Home Study Service as a resource in my journey to the Catholic faith, although I had been thinking about it for awhile for many reasons.

Bless you and your family on your faith journey!



I like this explanation as well, and I think it’s what I’m going to use even before I totally complete RCIA. I am doing my best to follow all the rules (easier because I’m single) like going to mass every Sunday and I try to defend Church teaching and her history when the chance and circumstances permit. When “real” Catholics ask me why I don’t go up for communion (no one ever has, this is hypothetical) I would say “I’m not yet confirmed”. Otherwise I just tell people I’m Catholic if it’s a general conversation, as I share the beliefs.

I was worrying a lot about whether I should do this since I still can’t get my head wrapped around how the trinity works (though the trinity isn’t unique to Catholicism obviously), how the Eucharist works (or get over my uneasiness of it and the uncomfortable idea of the real flesh), etc. Talking with a Dominican brother made me feel better though, he told me I don’t need to understand completely the theological underpinnings – just try to believe and pray for a better understanding and to be brought closer. And I want to believe and participate! The idea of Christ really being there sharing a Last Supper in the present really moves me. I need to just “give in to faith” I guess. I have no reason or desire to dispute some of those theological points, I just can’t figure them out or understand them. I do believe the Church has the correct answers and authority though.

You are taking the wisest course of action. The Church considers your marriage to be “until death ye do part,” unless something happens that makes it want to investigate the circumstances of the wedding.

The easiest thing is to consider yourself a married woman whose husband is absent - this will save you much grief. :slight_smile:

Will I be able to be confirmed before the annulment, or does that come after?

That’s not exactly true about divorce having no impact. Since the husband was baptised & confirmed Catholic as a teen, and she’s been divorced before this marriage, there may be a few complications that will need to be cleared up. The best thing is to talk to a priest about this and find out details. Sorry, but this is really the way it works.

If an annulment is necessary, it will be done before the sacraments can be received. Again, talk to your parish priest about all this. He’ll be able to tell you a lot more than we can.

Yes, we plan to meet with our priest soon. Just curious, if a decree of nullity is denied in a situation like mine, what happens? Is the person never able to be confirmed?

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