interfaith Wedding - Hindu - Catholic - Questions about future Faith

Hello all,

I’m a hindu man and I am engaged to a Catholic woman. We are currently planning our wedding and have run into many, many roadblocks. The main one is, having a church wedding.

Some background:
We are both scientists and when we begun dating I had asked her a very simple questions, “do you believe in Catholicism?” Her response was, “I’m not very catholic, I goto church sometimes to think, I don’t really know what to believe, I’m also not confirmed…” (almost a complete quote).

I took this as, well she believes in god and tenants of the christian faith but not all of what the church states as law, which is similar to me (I believe in god, but have a hard time believing in rituals (or dogma)). From my perspective, the tenants are very similar, it is the practice that differs.

We have been together for 3 years now, and got engaged last year… we have also been living together for 1.5 years. Prior to engagement, we had discussed infant baptism. I am against it, while she was for it. In the end, she said it would be okay to not baptize the children. It was after this that we decided to get married.

Originally she said she must get married in the church (in addition to a separate Hindu ceremony) to fulfill her marriage sacrament. I was okay with this, although my family was not. Needless to say, I had a lot of fights with my parents and siblings regarding the church ceremony to defend my fiance’s desire (need) to have a church ceremony.

After taking the preparation wedding classes, we were told the in church wedding was not a sacrament since I was not christian. From what the instructor had said (and what I later confirmed with her priest) was that the wedding was “good in the eyes of the church, but not a sacrament.” Due to this (and my family) I am having a hard time justifying a church wedding… which I know she REALLY wants.

As an aside on this topic, her and her family were not comfortable with most of the hindu ceremony. So we (my parents and I) modified the ceremony to the point that it was symbolic only…

It got to the point where so many traditions were modified that my parents stated (and I support) that we should have 1 non-denominational ceremony to finalize the marriage. There point was, we live together, don’t really follow either tradition, so why are we fighting over this.

Recently tragedy has struck her family (her mother had passed away). The burial ceremony was held on the day of our planned engagement party. Since then, my fiance has become more of a practising Catholic. She now wants to be confirmed… she has stated that no infant baptism will take place when we have kids.

I want to support her, but I have read many of the tenants (laws, rules, obligations) of the church. I know that it is a catholics duty to do what is in their power to raise their kids Catholic… With respect to kids, it is still not an issue, but I worry that it will be when we do have children, even though she doesn’t feel like any issue will arise.

I also feel, that if she does desire to practice her faith (fully), then I will be taking away from her by not baptizing our kids… and not fully supporting her (by going to church with her).

Any thoughts or advise? I’m truely at a loss…


Hello BrownCanuck,

Some short clarifications.

  • In case of interfaith wedding it she has to get a special dispensation from the local bishop.

  • the ceremony itself if that is the problem can be done in a different place than a church - of course a Catholic would probably feel uncomfortable with that - anyway for this a special permission from the local bishop is required as well.

  • there is a confusion of this ceremony: is it a sacrament?.

The answer is: for her it will be a sacrament with all effects as she would be married with a Catholic

My greatest doubt is here:

You said:

she has stated that no infant baptism will take place when we have kids.

So a long as she keeps the idea of not baptising infants and bringing them up in the Catholic faith she cannot answer “yes” to that question during ceremony:

Will you accept children lovingly from God and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?

Also in order to get the dispensation to have a Church wedding for her, you probably have to sign an official document that you accept the fact your children will be bringing up in the Catholic faith.

Best regards,

Fr Bartholomew, SVD (Divine Word Missionary)

Be extremely careful. She may not be very Catholic right now, but there sounds like a very real possibility that she is being led back to her faith. You need to consider if you could be married to her if she was a full blown devout practicing Catholic, because that could very well happen. This woman deserves (as you do) to be able to share with the one she will spend the rest of her life with, the most deepest and personal aspect of our lives – our Faith.

I spent 11 years in an invalid “marriage” with a man who did not really care about his faith. I was not religious when we had our wedding (I was not baptized), but became a very convicted Catholic in my 30s. I felt horribly cheated that I could not share my faith with him because he did not find it all that important.

Flash forward - I am now in a wonderful sacramental marriage with a man who would die for the Church. We share our faith in a way I only dreamed of before. I cannot even begin to tell you how important that sacramental grace is to a marriage, and personally, to one’s own spiritual life and growth.

So - think long and hard. Never EVER think you can change anyone, or that they won’t change from how they are today. Anything is possible.


Dia Duit Father,

If I could add to this, my own marriage is to a member of one of the Orthodox Churches and that involved considerable discussion and forethought. For our OP he should bear in mind that the gap between Catholicism and Orthodoxy is nowhere as severe as that between Catholicism and Hinduism. At the moment the female party in the OP’s question seems confused and also seems to be grieving for a parent Also the argument from her part that there are not likely to problems should children arrive later is something I view skeptically judging by how many problems you both have already encountered.

Also I would see the view that there is not a great gap between the tenets of Hinduism and Catholicism is ultimately flawed. There is indeed much of worth in various schools of Hinduism but it would be false ecumenism to pretend that they and Catholicism are ultimately reconcilable at all levels. Should the OP’s proposed spouse decided to embrace her faith more fully I can see this becoming a sticking point.

This marriage could work but it would require a great deal of work and I can see pressures both internal and external in the OP’s decription which set up significant challenges for such a marriage.

Hi BrownCanuck: I am a Hindu man who married a Catholic woman thirty years ago. It has worked out very well, and it can work for you too. This is simple in my opinion. Your fiancé comes from what I call a “closed system” faith tradition, wherein it is generally thought by the mainstream within that faith that it is the one and only true path to God. That is not something you can change. The opportunity lies with you, because you come from what I call an “open system” faith tradition. Specifically, as you know, we Hindus believe that there are many paths to God. Remember Sri Ramakrishna and the fact that he tried practicing Christianity and Islam as well, and concluded that they were both good paths to God. The same line of thinking was echoed by Sri Anandamayi Ma many times when she said that all paths lead to God. The way I see it, as a Hindu you are free to come to God in any way you see fit, and in any manner that fits the time, place and circumstances you occupy at this juncture in your story. You know that to get to the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC from Arlington, Virginia you can take the 14th Street Bridge, the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge or Key Bridge. You will be dealing with a tradition that is certain that you can only take the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge to do this. When you travel with them on your life journey, you will still know what you know, but you can rest easy in the knowledge that the view from the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge is quite nice anyway. From time to time you can take the other bridges on your own, but all three will assuredly take you to the same place.

You have met your life partner, and you can help her practice her faith by practicing it with her, which means you can join her church, receive all of their sacraments with her, knowing all along that you are a Hindu, and in being so, you understand that this path you are taking with her is one of many. You can simply incorporate Christianity into the broader scope of what you believe, so now perhaps you have Jesus as well as Ram, Krishna and the other Mahavatars in your life. Being scientists, you may well have read the works of Amit Goswami. I think he would tell you the same. He would probably do so with the caveat that you take into account that you will be dealing with a faith tradition that has the right information, albeit a rather limited understanding of it in regards to it’s group mentality, meaning that there are some mystics here and there within that tradition who will understand you, but for the most part, they will not. For instance, as a scientist and a Hindu, you would know that all things are truly one thing expressed as many, and of course the universe is one very large organism. That is also how a Hindu could understand Catholic things like the Eucharist. Yes, God is in the bread and wine, but that is only because in all of creation and throughout the cosmos, there is only Him expressed in all things anyway. One who eats that Bread is then the knower of this, and transcends the illusion of death. This Hindu believes that this is all Jesus was saying.

In short, I would be sure not to let all of this sectarian stuff get in the way of what matters, which is the life you’re planning together. It’s all about love, life and experience – that is why you are here. Your family will understand this better than hers, so the concessions will have to come from you. What better way to overcome the illusory ego that draws us from God? Perhaps when you are alone, you’ll do tantra, mantra, puja or whatever, or maybe your wife will do satsang with you, and when you go to church with your wife you are doing Christian worship too. What does that matter to God? It is all Him.

Your friend,


This would be considered sacrilege, and would be very disrespectful.

If the OP has any respect for his fiance and her beliefs, he will most certainly not carry out such a course of action.

Thank you Fr Bartholomew for your response. This was what I thought prior to proposing (after internet searches and speaking with other Catholics), that she would have to state she would bring her kids up catholic and I would have to sign some sort of document signifying that I was okay with that, and would not interfere. Since we had no intention of raising our kids Catholic (mainly the baptism), I told her I wouldn’t be okay with that. Simply put, I don’t want to lie to my future wife, in front of both our families DURING our wedding… just felt like we would be starting off on the wrong foot. We then proceeded to speak with her priest, he assured us that the line "Will you accept children lovingly from God and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church? would have the later part regarding raising them in the law of Christ omitted from the ceremony for both of us.

Again, regarding the sacrament of marriage. Her priest had stated it was not a scaramental marriage for her, since she was marrying a non believer. However, it would become a sacrament for her if I were to convert (a very unlikely scenario).

As for the special dispensation, her church has been contacted and the paper work submitted with our responses to each question. I guess we will find out the answer soon enough.

With respect to a marriage outside the church, her priest has told me that their diocese does not permit weddings outside of the church.

Is it possible that the differences in what you are saying, and what the their priest states is based on dioces policy rather than canon law? I also ask this, since her cousin in law is jain and is also a god parent to her nephew (i thought all god parents must be confirmed…).

Thanks Again,

Brown Canuck

Thanks Liza,

Although our differences are okay now, it is the future I am concerned with. I am not interested in changing her, in fact I’m a believer that the concept of conversion for a love marriage is fundamentally flawed, if both parties are believers. How can one legitimately fall in love with someone, and them ask them to change their beliefs? As a (extremly simplified analogy), it is like finding the greatest suite/computer/thing/ in the world that is just perfect for you (asis) and then dying it a different colour, or changing it’s fabric…

As for the future, anyone can change… there are many people who are brought up catholic, or hindu that find peace in their later lives in islam, taoism, or jainism… What I’m really trying to find is common ground and ways to compromise. Methods, avenues of communication, and to understand what it means to be a catholic. However, if the catholic belief (which I am trying to earnestly understand) has no room for compromise, unfortunately I don’t see how we can stay together happily.


What I meant was, if you take away obligatory mass, Advent, Lent, and Easter from catholism… and holy monday, diwali, holi, and the other religous days and festivities from Hinduism and strictly focus on how we treat each other, our neighbours, coworkers and the person we don’t even know, with proper kindness and love, perform charitable acts, and give back to the general community… these tenants are common in both religions (well I know it is important in Hinduism…).

I know, the first response will be… if you take away these facets of Catholism, you aren’t really left with catholism (and similarly for Hinduism). But please remember, neither of us were practising for the majority of our relationship… and we are both scientist (our discussion on scientific principle, evolution, and cancerous mutations were the topics that brought is together in the first place).


Agreed, this would be an awful course of action to take.

Hi Nine Two: An honest acknowledgement that a particular path to God is good, and an earnest practice of that system is simply that. Please explain if you would please what you mean.

Your friend

The path you are suggesting would lack intellectual honesty or integrity as someone entering the Catholic (or in Nine Two’s case the Orthodox) Church could not decided secretly to ‘remain a Hindu’ in this fashion. Also a Catholic cannot believe Catholicism is simply ‘one path of many’ that is inconsistent with apostolic Christianity. We can embrace those aspects of Hinduism that are good but we cannot except by promoting a false form of ecumenism say we consider Hinduism equal to Christianity. What you are encouraging is extremely dubious and blasphemous from a Catholic or Orthodox standpoint.

Sufjon said:-

In short, I would be sure not to let all of this sectarian stuff get in the way of what matters


You tell us to respect other faiths and paths to God yet you then use this phrasing in your post regarding Catholicism?

Hello BrownCanuck,

I’ll try to clarify some things in the following quotations:

Yes I’d say your behaviour is perfectly correct.
What’s the point to have a ‘church marriage’ if one doesn’t accept the Church’s vision of marriage?

That sounds to me like a kind of cheat (what priest said).

It is possible to omit that question but I would not say in that circumstances.
It is lawfully to do i.e. in the context of marriage between an elderly couple. Otherwise that quesion base on internal knowledge of the priest and you gonna have a public marriage and it is a contradiction.

Anyway, Canon law says (about mixed marriages - that is your case):

Can. 1125 The local ordinary can grant a permission of this kind if there is a just and reasonable cause. He is not to grant it unless the following conditions have been fulfilled:

1/ the Catholic party is to declare that he or she is prepared to remove dangers of defecting from the faith and is to make a sincere promise to do all in his or her power so that all offspring are baptized and brought up in the Catholic Church;

2/ the other party is to be informed at an appropriate time about the promises which the Catholic party is to make, in such a way that it is certain that he or she is truly aware of the promise and obligation of the Catholic party;

3/ both parties are to be instructed about the purposes and essential properties of marriage which neither of the contracting parties is to exclude.

I underlined this place where your(her) situation is described.

Oh, that’s right but - even though it is not a sacramental marriage in the full sense - for her it takes all effects of it:

  • she will be bound by it as long as you live
  • in the Church her status will be the same as sacramental married woman, this will be her way to hollies etc.
    Also everything what is required for the sacramental marriage will apply to your marriage including whole Catholic morality (including birth control and all spousal obligations)

That’s simply diocesan policy - the bishop has a right to establish this kind of rule.

Canon law says:

Can. 1118 §3.

A marriage between a Catholic party and a non-baptized party can be celebrated in a church or in another suitable place.

I’m not sure if the idea of having two different ceremonies is still at consideration, but that would be an argument for the local bishop to refuse his dispensation in this case as
Canon law 1127 §3 states:

. 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.

This probably could sound strange but the reason for this is quite simple.

The Church (so it means faithful Catholics as well) does not believe as Sufjon says that all spiritual ways to God are the same and Catholic faith is like one of them.

But this is also I think the core of your doubt:

Is it possible to be in full communion between yourselves and your religions?

Religion is not something external to our being - rather opposite it is so internal and sets everything in our live and behaviour.

Best regards,

Fr Bart

What Jharek said but to add to that, in order to partake of the sacraments you would have to lie, or at the very least mislead (allowing unspoken assumptions to exist when they are untrue is the same thing as lying). There is certainly no honesty in that. Partaking of the sacraments in a sinful manner is itself the very definition of sacrilege, and I think you’d agree that one cannot claim to “respect” something with such an attitude.

Taking the Eucharist when you don’t believe would be much akin to using the Veda’s as toilet paper.

JharekCarnelian;9124835The path you are suggesting would lack intellectual honesty or integrity as someone entering the Catholic (or in Nine Two’s case the Orthodox) Church could not decided secretly to ‘remain a Hindu’ in this fashion.

Actually, I have been quite open in my dealings with others in regard to what I do and what I say. I have made myself clear on this forum, to anyone I have met, and to any clergy I have encountered. From whom then, have I kept secrets?

Also a Catholic cannot believe Catholicism is simply ‘one path of many’ that is inconsistent with apostolic Christianity.

Again, there are those who understand what I have said and done and those who do not. Those in the mainstream usually don’t. The ones who have understood what I have said are few, but often notable:

****"…My thoughts turn immediately to the lands of the East, so rich in religious and philosophical traditions of great antiquity. Among these lands, India has a special place. A great spiritual impulse leads Indian thought to seek an experience which would liberate the spirit from the shackles of time and space and would therefore acquire absolute value. The dynamic of this quest for liberation provides the context for great metaphysical systems. In India particularly, it is the duty of Christians now to draw from this rich heritage the elements compatible with their faith, in order to enrich Christian thought…"

  • Pope John Paul II, FIDES ET RATIO, 1998
    **"…It is the Spirit who is the source of the drive to press on, not only geographically but also beyond the frontiers of race and religion, for a truly universal mission…The Spirit’s presence and activity affect not only the individuals but also society and history, peoples, cultures and religions. Indeed, the Spirit is at the origin of the noble ideals and undertakings which benefit humanity on its journey through history: “The Spirit of God with marvelous foresight directs the course of the ages and renews the face of the earth…I have repeatedly called this fact to mind, and it has guided me in my meetings with a wide variety of peoples. The Church’s relationship with other religions is dictated by a twofold respect: “Respect for man in his quest for answers to the deepest questions of his life, and respect for the action of the Spirit in man.” The interreligious meeting held in Assisi was meant to confirm my conviction that ‘every authentic prayer is prompted by the Holy Spirit, who is mysteriously present in every human heart.’…Every form of the Spirit’s presence is to be welcomed with respect and gratitude, but the discernment of this presence is the responsibility of the Church, to which Christ gave his Spirit in order to guide her into all the truth…”

-Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, 1990

“There is one religion, one common experience of the same single, Supreme Divininity - One Church of Love. It is we human beings who set up the mental barriers, dividing human beings into “friends” and “enemies”, “believers” and “non-believers” etc. Experience of the divine takes many forms and is expressed diversely through different languages and cultural/religious traditions but this diversity should not distract from the inherent oneness, for in God “absolute unity is absolute multiplicity” as Cusanus once said.”

-St Teresa of Avila (1515 –1582)

“…The absolute, Divine Mind, is all that is in everything that is… Divinity is the enfolding and unfolding of everything that is. Divintiy is in all things in such a way that all things are in divinity… There is only one mirror without flaw: the Divine, in whom what is revealed is received as it is. For this mirror is not essentially different from any existing thing. Rather in every existing thing it is that which is: it is the universal form of being…The human mind is the all of its dreams… Mind itself supposing itself to encompass, survey and comprehend all things thus concludes that it is in everything and everything is in it… whatever is found in creatures is found in the Divine…We are, as it were, a human deity. Humans are also the universe, but not absolutely since we are human. Humanity is therefore a microcosm, or in truth, a human universe. Thus humanity itself encloses both God and the universe in its human power… Humanity will find that it is not a diversity of creeds, but the very same creed which is everwhere proposed… There cannot but be one wisdom…Humans must therefore all agree that there is but one most simple wisdom whose power is infinite; and everyone, in explaining the intensity of this beauty, must discover that it is a supreme and terrible beauty…”

  • Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464)
    I can provide lots more, but I only get 7,000 characters on a reply.**

We can embrace those aspects of Hinduism that are good but we cannot except by promoting a false form of ecumenism say we consider Hinduism equal to Christianity. What you are encouraging is extremely dubious and blasphemous from a Catholic or Orthodox standpoint.

Yes, I will admit to having the audacity to suggest that all people are equal in the eyes of God. The paths to Him are numerous and diverse, and the very nature of their varied forms is a reflection the diversity that is evident throughout all of creation, and behind all of creation is God. It stands to reason then, that it is as it should be, and it follows that all are sacred.

You tell us to respect other faiths and paths to God yet you then use this phrasing in your post regarding Catholicism?

My statement and my stance on sectarianism relates and applies to Catholics, all manner of Christians, Muslims, Hindus or whatever strain of human thinking the delusion of separateness hides behind. At our core, we are all the same, which is infinitely more than we perceive.

Your friend,

it is the duty of Christians now to draw from this rich heritage the elements compatible with their faith

This is the key point with Blessed Pope JP II’s text that should be noted. Any examination of any philosophical system or any other religion should always be undertaken by Catholics with that caveat in mind.

You were suggesting that the OP take part in the Sacraments. That would be dishonest given the mindset you espouse. The very first Sacrament would be Baptism which would be preceeded (for an adult) with a profession of faith, including belief in “One, holy catholic and apostolic Church” as well as the other core tenants of Christianity. When such dishonesty is related to the Sacraments, it is sacrilage.

Actually, I think there are a lot of other key points in there, and I think you know it. All of the people I quoted were crystal clear and succinct in what they meant, and it went well beyond that. But you are free to be selective think what you will.

Your friend,

For me to believe that your faith is a real and genuine faith is not dishonest, therefore, it is not dishonest to say so. Look, I don;t see your church or any church as the one way. I see them all as acceptable ways. Any pledge I take in accordance with my understanding is honest. Whether I agree with your interpretation or not does not make me dishonest. It makes us disagree. There are thousands of denominations of Christians and you can’t even agree among yourselves on even the simplest of things unanimously, but that doesn’t make you dishonest. What is it about faith forums that draws out people who call other people names and pass judgements on them? Is that your Father’s business sir or madam? If not, then you should go and be about it then. Calling other people names and passing judgement on them is to diminish only oneself., and we should be careful not to display that sort of behavior. We are here to rationally discuss matters faith, not to draw lines between ourselves or to be derisive with one another.

It would be a matter of serious import to keep your own house in order as you receive your sacraments rather than to trouble yourself with how Sufjon receives a sacrament.

Your friend,

To the OP, my advice to you would be to slow down. With the death of her mother, she is going to be experiencing faith questions that are going to affect her and possibly lead her back to her faith. Even if it doesn’t happen immediately. And if that happens the dynamics of your relationship are going to change. No matter what she has believed until now, and even if you are both scientists. The worst thing that can happen is for you to try to push forward with the wedding while she is in that state and have her with regrets after, leading to your breakup.

I am a revert to the church, and things happened in my life over a series of years that added up and led to me coming back to the church. The things that happened got me thinking, and my reversion wasn’t immediate, but it did happen. I got married in that time, but thankfully it didn’t prevent my complete reversion to the church or my ability to receive sacraments. It’s better for her to deal with her faith issues now and settle things before you get married than after you’re married and these issues might break you up.

The thing about catholics that have fallen away from the church is that the faith stays with them, even if they don’t believe now, and God’s voice is buried in their hearts. That’s what happened with me. I never thought I’d be coming back to the church ever, but that voice was buried in my heart and it kept calling and calling to me. I have a bs in biology, worked in a lab for a while, thought I was a man of logic and reason not faith. When God gets ahold of your heart, none of that matters.

Slow down, let her sort things out.

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