Catholic marriage to Protestant - can it work out?

Hello,
How is marriage between Catholics and non-Catholic Christians viewed in the Catholic faith and how prevalent is this kind of “mixed marriage”? Are such married couples considered to be “unequally yoked”?

What are some of the obstacles of such relationships?

Are there any advantages?

Is it a non-issue?

Background:
I am a protestant Evangelical who is happily married to a wonderful woman who shares the same protestant faith as I do. She is also mother to my two fine sons who are in their mid to late 20’s. Theoretically, if I were to convert to Catholicism and my wife didn’t (she told me she could never do that), would our marriage be considered legal and valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church?

Just wondering. Thanks.

I answer your thread title, but not your questions because you ask questions of the Catholic postition on the matter, which I cannot answer

That said, yes.It can work out.

My Dad, Catholic, Mom, Protestant. They had issues; non religious ones. Far from perfect, but…
Their families on the other hand, different story.

But did it work out?
Yes. Each respected the others’ faith,. neither pressured the other.
Mom died after 59 years of marriage, four kids, five grandchildren, five foster children.
I’d say it worked rather well.

Love. You gotta love it. :wink:

Hope you get the other questions answered.

God Bless!

Yes, your marriage right now is considered legal and valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church, as long as when you were married you were both free to marry, such as not having a previous marriage and divorce. If both of you are baptized, it is also considered Sacramental right now. If one of you were to convert, no action would be needed regarding your marriage.

Mixed marriages are not an non-issue. There has to be some good communication going on and a willingness to work with each other. The best thing to do would be to talk to a priest. Also, there is a book called Rome Sweet Home by Dr. Scott Hahn, a Biblical scholar and Catholic theologian that details his conversion to the Catholic church, and also his wife, Kimberly, gives her story, as she very much objected to it. I think it would be a good read for someone like you, as it not only deals with doctrinal issues and how he resolved them, but is a very personal and true story of the difficulties they encountered during this process. He used to be a Presbyterian minister. Esp. interesting would be his wife’s narrations about her reactions and emotions. It is probably one of the most popular modern Catholic books out there for inquirers and even seasoned Catholics, and Dr. Hahn is an outstanding speaker, writer, biblical scholar, and theologian with an easy and understandable writing style.

Also, since you have shown an interest in the Catholic Mass, Dr. Hahn has written another very popular book called The Lamb’s Supper which is about the Mass and it’s biblical connections, esp. with the book of Revelation. I think it should be required reading for any Catholic or inquirer, and it is a highly recommended book. I am sure someone here will back up these recommendations.

Another resource is The Coming Home Network, which is a network established for non-Catholic clergy coming into the Catholic Church, but also has many testimonies of non-clergy converts. It also is a very popular site:

chnetwork.org

God bless you as you inquire. Pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance.

Thanks, Cheezy and CB Catholic for the replies and for the explanations and reading material recommendations. I am already familiar with the Coming Home Network and have read a few stories from people who used to belong to my Christian denomination.

When it comes to kids, I am not concerned much because both sons are in their 20’s and both knew I visited the CC for a Mass last Saturday and both respected my decision, although they were a little surprised by it.

We’ve always encouraged them to get plugged in to a church where the Bible is taught and where they are spiritually fed the Gospel and can grow in Christ. They both currently attend a non-denominational church at the moment.

Personally, I feel that if you are both people of faith and have a rightly-ordered, God-centered marriage, you will have a strong marriage. As others have stated, it is not an issue for the Church - your marriage is considered valid.

What is coming out in trends…if the father is Catholic, there is a good chance the kids will keep the faith. If the mother takes the kids to Mass, there is only a miniscule chance they will remain Catholic.

Hi Kathleen,
To bolster that point, I read not too long ago that when a father goes regularly with the family to church, over 80% of those children continue to attend church, whereas if the kids go without their father that number drops to around 20%.

I find that statistic astounding and it is a sobering reminder to all fathers to take their faith seriously for the sake of the family.

Thanks, DAML72. Good to know :slight_smile:

According to CC1637, mixed faith marriages can lead to the consecration of the unconverted spouse. It requires humbleness and perseverance in prayer on the part of the Catholic spouse.

Basically, in the eyes of the Church, if you convert, not only is your marriage still valid, but it is viewed as a way for your wife to be consecrated also.

Rome Sweet Rome, as CB Catholic, pointed out, is an excellent book that talks about some of the issues that can occur when one spouse converts and the other doesn’t want to.

i used to be the non-catholic in one. can’t say i’d recommend it.

The church has always discouraged mixed faith marriages because they quite simply make an already difficult life endeavor harder. But not impossible. St. Paul even cautions believers against being “unequally yoked” (admittedly he’s referring to a believer marrying an unbeliever, a much more difficult problem).

As an analogy, if a healthy marriage is like hitting the target with a bow/arrow at 20 paces every day, then a mixed faith marriage makes that 25 paces. You have to work harder at building the skills, but it can be done.

Have you thought of inviting your wife and sons to attend mass at least once?

Hi Pablope,
Yes, I invited my wife but she said she would never come. One of my sons visited a CC with a friend once about a year ago but prefers his current church.

Thanks for your perspective, manualman. It makes sense.

Thanks, Sally. For some reason, I had overlooked this post earlier but I am glad I found it.
Thanks for the info about how the Church views such marriages and for the recommended book to read on it.

And with practice, it gets easier.

Nearly 20 years this year, and I am still Catholic.
My wife still holds to her own faith, but I pray each day that she will eventually share this significant part of my life.

Thanks for sharing from your real life experience, vz71. Sounds like you must have a solid marriage to be able to do that. If I may ask, do you ever debate issues of faith or do you find it better to not discuss your differences and focus of what you have in common?

They work all the time in the real world. But it’s probably a plus if both spouses show some degree of open mindedness and be respectful towards the other and the Catholic must be humble enough not to think their religion is the superior faith or even if they believe theirs has all the right answers and is Christ’s one and only true church, not to throw it up in the non Catholic’s face all too often.

My maternal grandfather was Irish Catholic extraction; my grandmother was Methodist before they became the United Church. Her father was an Orangeman, and her sisters were anti-Catholic, so much so that their Orange father told them to lay off my grandma (:eek: you know it’s bad when…).

My grandfather knew that my grandmother was under pressure from her family for marrying a Catholic, so he asked her once if she wanted to go to Mass, she said no, and he never asked again. Their four kids were raised Catholic and went to Catholic schools (Sisters of Mercy and Presentation Sisters for the girls, Irish Christian Brothers otherwise). They had a strong marriage, lasted until my grandfather died, and they were a fairly tight-knit family.

My grandmother always felt sort of adrift, without a church – she wasn’t Catholic, but her own denomination was gone, and the theology of the new church was not what she grew up with.

When she was on her deathbed, she was in emotional and spiritual turmoil; my dad asked if she wanted a minister, she said no – he asked then if she wanted a priest, and she said yes. So he called one of the parish priests who visited with her alone, and when he left, she was very calm and seemed content. I like to believe she was received into the Church at that time.

Mixed marriages can be difficult, but unfortunately, a lot of the grief and difficulty comes from other people, and the idea of “a mixed-marriage can’t work” becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Touching story, John Lazarus. Thanks for sharing it. Thank you, also, Sy Noe.

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