How might a priest advise my 13-year old son?


First, some background…

My ex-wife left me 3 1/2 years ago. 6 months later she left the LDS church where we met, were married, and had agreed to raise our children. At the time she took my son to the local parish and had him baptized without my knowledge. We continued living in separated sides of our house until she moved out 18 months later. Understanding that my son was caught in the middle I didn’t push the religion issue much, even thought I was opposed to her actions. Once she moved out and I had time alone with my son I wanted to continue taking him to the LDS church on my weekends. By that time my son was protesting that he’s Catholic now and his reactions have caused me to let him stay home during church and teach him the best I can at home. Please note that each weekend I have him I offer to take him to Mass and he always declines saying that he only wants to attend Mass with his mother.

My question:
Let’s ignore issues of child psychology and divorce. If I took my son to speak to a priest and asked the priest if my son ought to attend LDS church with per my request, would the priest be inclined to counsel my 13-year old son that he needs to attend church with me if I request it? It would seem odd for the priest to counsel him otherwise. (Fourth commandment and all…) Thanks in advance.

CCC 2197 The fourth commandment opens the second table of the Decalogue. It shows us the order of charity. God has willed that, after him, we should honor our parents to whom we owe life and who have handed on to us the knowledge of God. We are obliged to honor and respect all those whom God, for our good, has vested with his authority.


Is he Catholic or just like to go to the Catholic Church?
If he’s Catholic, he must go to Mass.


I’m not sure what a priest would say. Obviously, a 13 year old is obliged to do what they are told. In general, I don’t think it’s wise to give a child a choice that you aren’t okay with them making. If you aren’t okay with him deciding to stay home, then don’t give him that as an option. Assuming that you are giving him the freedom to decide whether he goes or doesn’t, I would suspect that the priest would advise him not to go. If you require him to go, I suspect the priest would tell him to be respectful of your wishes and not disrupt his time with you with arguing.


Generally a minor will not be received into the Catholic Church unless his/her parents agree, so this is an awkward situation.

It is very good of you to support his mother’s decision in this way. As a Catholic, he is obliged to go to Mass on Sunday or Saturday evening. The obligation is lifted of through no fault of his own he is unable to go; however, if you offer to take him, then he’s gotta go!

If you go in with him, it would probably help if you learned a little bit about the Mass. Your son may not feel confident explaining things to you, but we here at CAF can certainly answer any questions you may have, and there are other Mormons and Catholics who know about Mormonism, so you’ll be able to get effective information.

You could watch a Mass on Youtube, and if you go, then just avoid sitting in the front row, and do what the others in front of you do in terms of kneeling, etc. If you do not want to kneel and stand, that will be ok, bit you may need to explain to some people who are trying to be friendly and include you that you are just bringing your son but that you are not Catholic.

As a non-Catholic, you would not be supposed to receive Communion. Receiving is, among other things, a sign that you believe what the CC teaches, and so you probably wouldn’t want to on that basis.

Since we believe that the divine Christ is truly present in the Eucharist, and the Bible condemns those who receive without recognizing His presence, this prohibition is a protection for you as well as for the Body of Christ.

Your son may have been feeling awkward about explaining that to you.

As a Catholic, he is permitted to attend the services of other denominations, but not to participate. If Mormons have anything like Communion, he should not partake.

Generally minors who want to convert but who must delay until they are old enough are advised to obey their parents as far as they are able, so if you required that he attend services with you, he should. This would not satisfy his obligation to attend Mass however.

The best thing would be for you to contact a priest, but some priests are very busy. You can call and ask for an appointment or good time to call or his email address. Another way to contact him would be to talk with him briefly after Mass, asking when a good time to contact him is :slight_smile: He may actually have some time after Mass to talk with you, but he may not.

This is a tough situation for you and again I applaud your supporting your wife in this–not making it an issue is so much better for your son!


Baptism of an infant requires consent of at least one parent. A child who is approximately 10 (reference to 3 years ago and current age of 13) would not be an infant per Church law. The child himself could ask for baptism, indeed would have to ask for baptism as the parents can no longer ask on his behalf.


True, but usually when a minor asks to be received, he is told to wait if the parents oppose his entry into the Church.


Who knows how a priest will advise.:shrug: Heck I don’t even know what a priest will say to me on a week to week basis in the confessional…

But I do know that while it is nice to say lets take the divorce and child psychology out of it. You cant. This is one of the fruits of what the adults have done… There is no getting around that or leaving it aside on any issues involving the religion or parenting in this issue. It would be nice if you could have your way with that, it would be more convenient for sure. But it is impossible.


Seconding the distinction - if you require him to attend LDS services with you, it is alright for your son to go (without participating), but your desires don’t trump his obligation to attend Mass, so no one should ever be counseling that, given a choice, he ought to attend LDS worship instead of Mass.


First of all, you are a amazing Dad! As a Catholic, your beloved son needs to attend mass every week. If I were you, I would just announce that it is time to go to mass and you will be leaving at a specific time. Hopefully your young man will not refuse to attend. At mass, sit somewhere where both of you feel comfortable. Having him explain what he does know about the mass beforehand will let him know that you think his faith is important and that you want to learn about it through him. I’m not sure if I would force him to attend your LDS services too - my sweet ten year old Daughter was asked to leave an LDS Sunday School she was attending with a Mormon friend because she announced that the world was not 5000 years old and that she believed in the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit! LOL - she is now an attorney! I’m praying for you and your son, although I’m very sure that our Lord or Heavenly Father, already knows what a compassionate and loving parent you are.:slight_smile:


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit