Divorced kids & catholic church/communion

Hi,

This is my first post here – I just found the forum today.

Very briefly, I’m divorced after a 20 year marriage to a protestant woman; I’m a cradle Catholic. We have three kids, and we attended protestant churches throughout our marriage. Our kids only rarely attended Catholic mass with me during our marriage.

I have my kids half-time. Their ages are 8-14.

During our marriage, we attended a protestant church, so my kids are used to that environment. After divorcing, I have gone back to the Catholic church, and I find it very comfortable. I have been taking my kids to mass with me every other week, but they are very resistant to it and openly critical of the Catholic church. One thing that really turns them off to mass and the Catholic church is their inability to take communion while everyone else does. (I’ve tried explaining the reasons for this, but it hasn’t helped.)

So, my question:
Can my kids become Catholic and take communion while being in another church with their mom and stepdad? (The kids are members of a Methodist church.)

I talked with a friend who is a Catholic priest, and he said it is possible for the kids to become Catholic while also being a member of another church, but he wasn’t too specific. I haven’t been able to find too much information on this topic online.

Thanks for any feedback.

ETA:
I’m considering switching to a protestant church on weekends I have them to avoid the tension I’m feeling. Hard to figure out what is best. (I stayed in our original protestant church for two years after the divorce to maintain at least that continuity for the kids. Their mom left that church immediately.)

Inter faith participation is tolerated, so long as a Catholic does not substitute (Sunday) Mass with another service, or receive Communion in a non Catholic Church.

I’d probably focus on your personal return first and, like you expressed already, try to teach them why the Catholic Church believes and instructs this about Holy Eucharist.

Eucharist reception means communion with formal Church Teaching. Non Catholic churches reject various Church Teachings.

If your children receive Communion in the Catholic Church, they should decidedly no longer receive elsewhere. Yourself included.

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I dont think you need to keep bringing them to other churches. You have alot of catching up to do. Strengthening your knowledge and helping them to understand why the Catholic Church does and Teaches what she does.

If your wife takes them elsewhere, you cannot do much about that. But they should not be under the impression that they should be receiving Communion with both. Both are not in Communion with one another.

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How will that ever make them comfortable in the Catholic Church?
Unfortunately, you cannot force them to do anything. You can only lead by example and hope that one day they will want what they see in you.

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Whether your children could become Catholic is between you, your ex-wife, and them.

They are old enough that they can’t be forced to become Catholic; they have to want it. And your ex-wife may have strong feelings on the matter as well. You need to take all of this into consideration.

If they do want to become Catholic and your ex is open to it, the ideal would be for them to attend Mass every week. If your wife doesn’t want to go, are you close enough to be able to pick them up and return them on Sunday mornings?

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Were either of your kids Baptized?

Thank you for your feedback.

They have not been baptized in the Catholic church. (They were baptized in the Methodist church, and their mother has had them recently re-baptized in an Assemblies of God church.)

Ok. Their first Baptism is recognized by the Church. The second one probably just complicates matters for them to understand things.

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Thank you for your comments.

I have the kids half-time, including every other weekend.

The kids currently attend an Assemblies of God church with their mom and stepdad; they are in youth group and Sunday school there.

Based on comments they have made to me, it seems that they are being propagandized against the Catholic church by their mom’s church. (It’s possible I am wrong about this, and i never assume it in my conversations with them. It’s just my impression based on their comments – even the youngest suddenly knows quite a bit about Catholics that i didn’t teach him. :slight_smile: )

Sometimes I think the best thing to do might be to attend Catholic church when I don’t have them, and avoid conflict by going to a protestant church when I do have them. I wonder if forcing them to go to Catholic church might turn them off in the long run.

After a long & good conversation with the older two, I have started watching online videos with them (such as some from Bishop Barron). I’m hoping that might open them to Catholicism over time. In the end, I see this as a very long road to walk with them; ok with me if this process takes many years. :slight_smile:

My question is whether it’s even possible to become Catholic while still in protestant churches with their mom, because I don’t see them going against anything their mom wants. My (biased) take is that they feel safer disagreeing with me.

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I admit I do not know specific details whether a child can join the Catholic faith without both parent’s consent.

My impression is that it is possible, but under complicated circumstances. A Catholic Baptism entails reception into the Church, while a non Catholic, yet valid, Baptism is recognized as the minimum efficacy of Baptism while not being Catholic membership, specifically/fully.

Pentecostal Baptism is not accepted as valid, if I am not mistaken. So this only complicates matter for the children’s formational understanding. In other words, your wife is complicating matters further.

If your wife is opposed to them becoming fully Catholic, then the Church may opt to wait until they are either adult, or both parents are on the same page.

If one or both children desire to become Catholic, and you support this, the Church might allow it.

But this is probably not the case, and you are best to take it slowly. Not pushing the matter, yet not supporting Pentecostal Communion.

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With this thread and the other one (about the Jewish convert who wants to return to the Catholic Church), I will never understand why parents are afraid of exposing their kids to what they believe to be the truth. You think that the Roman Catholic Church is the one, true, apostolic church, correct in its understanding of God, and, by extension, the universe. Why would you not teach your kids its doctrines? Why would you allow fear of conflict to prevent you from exposing them to the church that you ultimately believe to be truest, best expression of faith?

I know someone is going to reply “Oh, you shouldn’t force kids to accept dogma, especially if they’re older.” In this case, that would be a strawman argument–neither this OP nor the other is even making small motions to demonstrate their own commitment to Catholicism, let alone extending their faith to their children.

I am a Protestant because my understanding of the soteriology, ecclesiology, and Scriptures is different than the Catholic understanding. I intend to do my best to inculcate my values into my children, with the understanding that as they grow up they will be their own individual selves and perhaps develop different views than I hold. In my opinion, this is my husband’s and my responsibility as parents.

I understand that the situation is difficult because of the disparity in your and your ex-wife’s faith. I do not encourage you to disparage your ex-wife, or to attempt to force your kids to convert to Catholicism. However, you should at least give them the opportunity to disagree with you by taking them to Mass when you have them, and answering honestly any questions they may have about Catholicism.

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I do not suggest going to the Pentecostal church at all. Just keep it very simple as to why you dont.

Keep it to being positive. Meaning, just say why you are choosing the Catholic faith, and not speaking bad about anywhere else.

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And they will totally feel that if you “give up.” Keep doing what you are doing, showing them videos. They may like Fr. Mike Schmitz more than Bishop Barron at their age. Talk to them, pray for them and invite them to come with you when they are with you.

They may decide on their own that they are drawn to Catholicism because of the seeds you have planted.

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First, I’m assuming that the custody agreement does not prohibit you from taking the kids to Mass?

One of the things that we are told when flying on an airplane is that if the pressure drops and oxygen masks drop, we should put them on ourselves first so that we may remain conscious to help our children. Similarly, I would suggest that you get a good grounding in Catholicism and Catholic apologetics, because as the father you are their spiritual leader and you first need to learn the tools to do the job. This is especially important because, as you mentioned in a previous post, they are being propagandized (in fact, they may try to convert you)! You may end up being aggressively peppered with “where is THAT (insert Catholic practice / belief) in the Bible?” and you will need to know how to respond. My personal favorite response is to ask in response “Where in the Bible does it say that everything has to be in the Bible?” and then be prepared to refute the Bible verses they give as not applying.

I would also suggest checking out Fr. Mark Goring’s YouTube videos. He belongs to an order best described as “conservative Charismatic Catholic”, which has a Pentecostal style that may be a good bridge to people in an Assemblies of God environment and quotes Bible left and right. If your kids are boys, his videos may be attractive to them, since he does a lot of outdoors and masculine type stuff that young boys might find “cool”.

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Yet they are young enough where dad is responsible for taking them to church, whether they want to or not. When they are of age, it will be on them. Right now, it’s on dad. If he can’t convert them, he can still plant all the seeds at his disposal.

I think I wasnt completely accurate with this comment. It appears that some braches of Pentacostalism have valid trinitarian Baptisms, while others do not.

Assemblies of God might be a valid one.

But regardless, their Methodist Baptisms were valid anyway.

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I agree. The harder question is, can one parent bring kids into the Church Communion, while another is opposed?

I think if the child desires, and one parent supports, the Church would allow. But it may be the pastor’s discretion?

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I don’t know about sacramental union, but one parent can, and should do everything to maintain church tradition in his own home. Its messy, I know…
BTW, were these kids baptized Catholic? If so, dad’s duty is that much more binding, as he vowed to raise them Catholic.

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This recommends time for some long talks about respect for others who may look different, speak differently, have religious practices you do not understand. The “you do not have to become Catholic, but, you must respect differences, even to your parents”.

Ask if they think it is cool and Christ like to criticize the Mormon or Jewish or Muslim kid at school.

ETA: This video is really important for you, your kids and even your ex wife

You can stream it with Amazon Prime or order the DVD

My other advice (someone who was raised in the A/G as was my Priest :slight_smile: ) is to make an appointment to talk to the AG pastor and youth director. Will bet you a ham sandwich this is coming more from youth group.

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No. They are either Methodist or Catholic.

They can frequent both services with their parents, but they remained to only one Church.

If they had been baptized as methodists, they are methodists.
If they aren’t, but raised as Methodists, they felt themselves methodists.

They can converted to methodism, but not without their mother consent, and at their age, they need to agreed to conversion. And made their first communion.

But I don’t think there is anything that prevent you from enrolled them to Catholic cathechism, apart maybe shedules and compatibility with custody. You can instrut them with the faith at home, with a curriculum or not.

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