(Former) Catholic wants to marry Romanian Orthodox


Hello my friends, I humbly ask for advice. I was born and raised a German Catholic, I was baptized, had communion, learned the bible. In my late 20s though I had a regretful phase of confusion and decided to leave the church. I must clarify, only left the status of being a paying member (in Germany you have to pay church tax money every month for being a member, and over the years it is a lot) - I continued to respect, honor, and live my Catholic belief as a human being.

Well, some years later I have found the love of my life - a Romanian Orthodox - with whom I share very similar beliefs, for a year now we both live respectful as a pre-marriage couple, we even pray together - but now I don’t know how I can marry her. Yes, officially for the government is not a problem, but we both wish to marry in church as well.

I don’t know if I can easily (or if I’m even being allowed to) convert to Romanian Orthodox. I know I can re-enter German Catholics, but I don’t know if I can marry her as that. She has offered to convert to Catholicism but I’m not sure I want that as I would like to have her keep her traditions. On the other hand, we want to have kids and we were thinking that it might be easier for them to have my local religion, as Romanian Orthodox churches are obviously a rarity in my country.

What do you think? I gracefully thank for your help.


As Catholics, we are called to convert others where possible, so if she is sincerely willing to convert, then proceed in that manner, marry her and raise your children in the Church. I’m not sure what traditions she would have to give up - it seems like a number of them would carry over. At the very least, I would suggest the two of you discussing it with your priest.


There’s no such thing as a former Catholic, a Catholic is always a Catholic, even when they’re not practicing, even when they commit heresy, even when they make a formal defection from the Church, they’re still Catholic. By the way, I don’t think that last thing is even possible to do anymore.


Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it became too difficult to establish what exactly constituted “defection by a formal act.”


Sweep that lady off her feet! But make sure she converts, 2 different religions in a relationship is usually toxic, exemptions to this rule don’t come around very often either. As long as she is sincerely willing to convert, I say go for it as Tis said.


There is nothing in your post that would indicate that you cannot marry each other.

Catholics and Orthodox marry each other all the time. There is no problem. You might have to do just a little bit (just a little) more paperwork in the marriage preparation stage, and there are some very minor issues, such as the marriage must be officiated by a priest (not a deacon). It’s all very minor.

Please note that I am only addressing what you posted. I have no idea if there is some other reason why the marriage cannot go forward. All I can speak about is what you posted. And again, based on what you posted, there is no problem.


That’s a common misunderstanding.

Pope Benedict eliminated the line from Canon Law which exempted someone who had formally left the Church from the obligation to marry according to canonical form.

What he did not do was to say that there is no longer a way to formally leave the Church.

Unfortunately, these 2 ideas got confused, especially in internet discussions.

So one who was baptized Catholic is always required to follow Catholic form for marriage.

And at the same time, it is still possible for someone to formally abandon Church membership.


Incorrect. Fr Charles Grondin explained the Church’s teaching this way.

Anyone baptized Catholic is considered a Catholic. They are counted as Catholic even if they are not going to Mass or are attending a non-Catholic community. This is the same as counting a blood relative as a member of your family even if they “disown” their family, once a member of the family you are always a member of the family.


…unless you defect in a formal way

You can’t undo one’s baptism, but this has nothing to do with their canonical status.

You can’t undo Holy Orders, but a priest could have his canonical status changed back to laity.

Catholics remain Catholic by virtue of their baptism; however, they still CAN defect in a formal way.

And this implies more than simple excommunication.


OP, I am assuming that you are still in Germany. The German Catholic Church has some very unique situations, like the church tax; so I don’t know that most of us are qualified to advise you on specifics. I do hope that you, your wife, and future children can find a home in Christ’s Church.


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