My wife and her younger sister were raised Coptic Orthodox and converted to Catholicism as adults. My question concerns my sister-in-law. After converting to Catholicism, she married a practicing Catholic man. She became pregnant with twins. Her pregnancy had problems that culminated in her doctor asking her which child to keep and which to abort. She was told that if she did not abort one of the babies, that both would die or that one would surely die and the other would be deformed.
She said “heck” no and bore the twins. Neither were deformed but both had to be incubated for five months and were in dire straits for most of that time.
During this incubation, my sister-in-law solicited her former Coptic priest to administer communion to the child every week. (I have no problem with this as it was a valid sacrament) Thanks be to God both children survived and are healthy five-year-old girls.
However, now, out of a sense of gratitude and perhaps obligation, to both the priest and to God, they are now only attending the coptic church and are raising their four children in that faith.
If you ask them, they would say that they are Catholic, but they have a soft idea of the subtle differences between the two churches whereby they think its ok. They don’t realize that they are not allowed to substitue the Latin Mass for the Coptic Mass.
My wife sides with them on this and begs me not to discuss my feeling about this with them as it could offend them. She says that God isn’t “legalistic” and so I shouldn’t be either. I am not interested in “being right” but concerned about the state of their souls. I want them to return to the one true Church. Although they lack culpability due to their ignorance, should they not still be told that leaving the Catholic Mass is illicit?
On top of this, they attend Catholic Mass at Christmas and Easter since they are different dates than ours - and receive holy communion as well.
They have spoken to two priest friends who said it was okay to go to the Coptic Mass instead of the Catholic Mass; I know this is wrong advice. I have spoken to two priests who said they were wrong with one saying to just be patient and bring it up one day when you gain their trust and get the opportunity and that having a riff with my wife is not in my best interests.
Can you please confirm if my understanding of Canon Law and Church teaching regarding this and the objective state of their souls?
Can you address the “legalistic” charge my wife has on God and me?
Should I discuss this issue with my them despite my wife’s admonition in doing so?