Interfaith Marriage


My boyfriend (most likely my future husband) and I have been discussing marriage. I am Catholic and he is not. He was raised Baptist but now is more “non-denominational.” I want to get married in my church.
There is a slight problem. His brother is a baptist preacher. My boyfriend respects my reasons for wanting to get married in my church, but both of us would like to incorporate his brother into the ceremony. I am very close to his whole family as he is with mine, and it does not seem right for his brother to be excluded. Can he officiate the service in any way?


Hi Fern and welcome to the forums.

I’m just going to quote from the Code of Canon Law here.

I was unable to find in the Code of Canon Law whether a non-Catholic minister is permitted to assist in a Catholic wedding ceremony. But perhaps you’ll have better luck. Here is the Code of Cannon Law dealing with Marriages. God bless.


No, he cannot officiate in any way.

That, of course, does not mean he is “excluded”. He will be a guest, after all. He can be a groomsman.


Have you thought about what will happen when you want to baptize your babies, and DH objects because they’re not “old enough” and then wants his brother to baptize them with a “believer’s baptism” when they are “old enough?” What about when you want to put them in RE or Catholic school and have them go to Confession, receive First Eucharist, be Confirmed? Baptists don’t believe in the Sacrament of Confession, they don’t believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist or the miracle of transubstantiation. If he wants to remain attached to his denomination from the very beginning, he will likely fight you on these things. Also, Baptists don’t believe that marriage is a sacrament. They believe divorce is undesirable, but allowed, with ability to re-marry inside their church intact. He will not have the same view of your marriage as you will. That can cause strife. The Baptists I have known are actively hostile and derogatory toward the Catholic Church. That would be very unhelpful in raising Catholic children.

In short, if you want to be married in the Church, I presume you want to have a Catholic home and family. You may not be able to fully have that, and you may end up with religious war in your house, if you marry someone with radically different beliefs.

This is a central, major issue, and should not be taken lightly. Love is not enough to make a marriage work. Read some of the threads in these forums… there are tons of people who had promises from non-Catholic spouses to support raising the kids Catholic who are now dealing with the consequences of that agreement being broken. People think it’s not that important, but then find, especially when children come, that they cannot so easily let go of their own traditions and upbringing.

This should be your focus, not the logistics of who stands where or does what at the wedding. Though, I do not think your BF’s brother can officiate. My IL’s had their wedding at her Presbyterian church, but with a Catholic priest “co-officiating.” We are now dealing with the aftermath of that in that as my parish can find no evidence that they are in a valid Catholic marriage, they may not allow them to be godparents. :frowning: It seems that there was no dispensation for this wedding, and no certificate from any Catholic parish.


thanks for your concern, but my boyfriend and i have discussed those issues you brought up. while he was raised baptist he has some issues with their views on certain things. we both agree on most aspects regarding christianity. he respects (and even understands why) catholics understand the Eucharist to be the real presence. he is also fine with having our children baptized catholic and both of us have agreed on sending future children to public schools.

i just don’t quite understand why his brother cannot co-officiate our wedding…
if i am “allowed” to marry a non-catholic then i don’t understand why a non-catholic cannot participate in the marriage ceremony.


Hi Fern, welcome to these forums. As you can tell already by the few postings you have a lot to think about and decide.

Do you want to be married in your church specifically or are you just interested in having a valid , sacramental marriage in the eyes of the church? If your boyfriend’s brother has a church he can officiate your wedding there. But no as far as I know there is no “official” part a non catholic clergyman can do at a Catholic wedding.

. If a Catholic wishes to marry in a place outside the Catholic church, how can he or she be sure that the marriage is recognized by the Catholic Church as valid?

The local bishop can permit a wedding in another church, or in another suitable place, for a sufficient reason. For example, a Catholic seeks to marry a Baptist whose father is the pastor of the local Baptist church. The father wants to officiate at the wedding. In these circumstances, the bishop could permit the couple to marry in the Baptist church. The permission in these instances is called a “dispensation from canonical form.”

Of course you definitely are giving up on a Mass if you do it that way. A Mass probably would not be appropriate anyway because many people at this wedding would be “excluded” as you put it from Communion. That would be awkward. So I guess you are looking at a just a wedding ceremony anyway.

What is a Nuptial Mass and when can a couple have one?

A Nuptial Mass is a Mass which includes the celebration of the sacrament of marriage. It has special readings and prayers suitable to the Sacrament of Marriage. The Sacrament of Marriage between two baptized Catholics should normally be celebrated within Mass.

If the situation warrants it and the local bishop gives permission, a Nuptial Mass may be celebrated for a marriage between a Catholic and a baptized person who is not a Catholic, except that Communion is not given to the non-Catholic since the general law of the church does not allow it. In such instances, it is better to use the appropriate ritual for marriage outside Mass. This is always the case in a marriage between a baptized Catholic and a non-baptized person.*

Please start discussing all the ins and outs of living a Catholic married life before you agree to marry a non Catholic.You may need to learn about this yourself first in order to discuss it. Everything from no artificial birth control to how to raise your Children Catholic without the support of a spouse.And a million different practices that you must follow in between. Lots to think about.


Your post was very helpful.
While I would like to get married in my church, i am not opposed to getting married in his brother’s church. I am very close to his brother and would love to have him marry us. i consider him a part of my family and i consider him to be a very faithful man who God called to preach. anyone who talks to him knows this. He also is very accepting and respectful of my Catholic faith and does not understand why many Baptists do not consider Catholics to be real christians. along with that, my boyfriend and his brother are very close. i know in the end, my boyfriend will leave it up to me and allow me to decide upon where i am married, but knowing i do have options is nice.
if i was granted a dispensation to get married outside of the catholic church, would it still be considered a valid, sacramental marriage recognized by the catholic church?


He cannot participate as an officiant at a Catholic marriage because he is not a Catholic priest.

Canon Law governs the Sacraments. Marriage must be contracted before the local ordinary (bishop) or a priest or deacon:

Can. 1108 §1. Only those marriages are valid which are contracted before the local ordinary, pastor, or a priest or deacon delegated by either of them, who assist, and before two witnesses according to the rules expressed in the following canons and without prejudice to the exceptions mentioned in cann. ⇒ 144, ⇒ 1112, §1, ⇒ 1116, and ⇒ 1127, §§1-2.

Canon 1127 §3. It is forbidden to have another religious celebration of the same marriage to give or renew matrimonial consent before or after the canonical celebration according to the norm of §1. Likewise, there is not to be a religious celebration in which the Catholic who is assisting and a non-Catholic minister together, using their own rites, ask for the consent of the parties.

Here are all of the Canons regarding mixed marriage.


Yes, you will want to go to your parish priest after you get engaged . Leave plenty of time before setting a wedding date. It may take a while for you to get a dispensation and go through the marriage preparation. You will have to promise to do your best to live a catholic life by following the church teachings and raise your children Catholic including baptism , religious education for them and attending Mass every Sunday and on Holy Days of obligation . Your “fiance” will have to be able to tell the priest he will not prevent you from fulfilling your obligations.

If you do choose to have a ceremony at your Parish then perhaps you could ask your possibly future brother in law to give a blessing at the reception .


This is what I would do.


Another role may be possible. Consult your priest.

See the Ecumenical Directory, n. 158: “Upon request of the couple, the local Ordinary may permit the Catholic priest to invite the minister of the party of the other Church or ecclesial Community to participate in the celebration of the marriage, to read from the Scriptures, give a brief exhortation and bless the couple.”


Always Deacon John to the rescue on the really tricky questions!

I knew the non-Catholic minister couldn’t “officiate” but I didn’t know that they could perform a blessing at the ceremony.


Could he do one of the readings, other than the Gospel?


There are many things your future brother in law could do during the ceremony…

If you choose to have a Catholic ceremony, then he’d be able to do either of the readings… he might even be able to say a few words after the priest/deacon does his homily. He would not be able to read the Gospel, but he could do one of the other two readings. He could also do the prayer intentions. He could also, like I said, do a few words after the homily.

Or, you could have him do something special at the time of the nuptial blessing. The priest/deacon could do a blessing and then his brother could do some sort of pastoral blessing.

The only things he absolutely CANNOT do are the reading of the Gospel, the homily, and he cannot be the officiant at the exchange of consent. The priest/deacon would absolutely have to do those things. Anything else is really fair game. :slight_smile: So, once you are engaged, you can sit down with your pastor and explain that you know that your fiance’s brother cannot do those three things but you would like to know how the pastor would be comfortable with his brother being involved.

Or, you can go a completely different route entirely… You could have a Baptist wedding and ask a priest to be involved somehow with that. You would need to get a dispensation from canonical form, and your priest would help you with that, and then his brother would be able to officiate at the wedding. You could have it wherever and his brother would be the one to ask for and receive the consent of both of you and then you could ask his brother to what degree you could have the priest involved.

So, it’s a matter of where you want to have the wedding and who you want to have officiate. It can work either way, you just need to have the permission to have it in the Baptist church.


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