Is Visiting My Parents Sinful?

Hello, all. :slight_smile:

My mother and father, for many decades now, have been fallen away Catholics. Unfortunately, their marriage of some 30 years is presumably not sacramental, as (i) my father is divorced, (ii) he did not seek an annulment, and (iii) my parents did not marry in the Church. Neither of them seem to have much interest in rectifying this situation, and they seem just as uninterested in seriously considering the claims of Catholicism in an objective and dispassionate way.

Now my question!

My folks live some 900 miles away from me, and I had planned to visit with them next week. However, I wonder something: is my visiting (and staying with) my parents in some way condoning their marital situation, and is it thus sinful on my part to do this?

I don’t think so at all. They are your parents, visiting them doesn’t condone their action. Our relationship with our parents are the most important relationships in your life. Go spend time with them.

Honour your father and your mother. It is right and proper that you maintain loving relations with your parents despite shortcomings on either side. You need not spend time judging them; leave that to the Lord in their own lights. You need to spend time loving them in the frailties of the spirit, as Jesus loves us in ours. Do not lecture but love.

By all means, visit with your parents and maintain a loving relationship with them. Pray for them always. You don’t have to bring up their “situation” with them…they are fully aware of it, even if they don’t acknowledge it. Pray for them daily and and witness to them by living an exemplary life in your Catholic Faith. If you are there over a weekend, by all means, go to Mass somewhere but don’t make a big deal about it. The fact that you are going is your witness.

Peace in Christ…


Visit them, and cherish the time you spend with them. Before you know it, they will be gone.

No, it is not sinful. Similar situation with my parents, who were married over 50yrs when mom died. In their case, it was my mom who was divorced but she did try for years to get an annulment. They eventually got married in Vegas. They left the church over this and the upheaval of the 60’s and kept us kids from going back, too. My mom did hold a devotion to Mary, but not the church as she saw it here in the US. I wouldn’t be too hard on your dad. My mom had a legitimate reason for an annulment but was not given enough support in locating her former spouse (in another country) and they were never given another option with the paperwork. At that time there was a stigma being a divorced, single mom.

I never questioned the validity of my parents marriage to honor them or not. To me and everyone else, they are married.

Of course, it can both be considered an act of love as well as honoring one’s parents to not contribute to my parent’s perception that a certain immoral action is acceptable and need not ever be addressed or even considered. But my question isn’t with regard to prudence of action, or method of evangelization, so much as it centers on my own moral culpability in these circumstances. If there is no moral culpability, and if this this can be shown, then I would surely appreciate such a demonstration. :slight_smile:

I appreciate all of your answers! Any further input–especially with regard to culpability–would be fantastic.

Similar situation here:

You visit them because they are your parents, no matter what faults, foibles, and sorrows, they have. You don’t have to love the situation in which they’ve put themselves.

I think this can become more tricky when children are involved.

For example, you are taking the kids to Church and your parents don’t go. Then, the kids ask why and you have to explain it.

When there are children involved, it’s important to create some ground rules regarding religion:

  1. grand parents will not put down the faith or disagree with the Church in front of the kids

  2. ideally, they would attend Mass with you and not receive communion. If the kids ask why grandma and grandpa didn’t receive communion, the answer can simply be “because * haven’t been to confession.”

  3. if the grand parents won’t go to Mass with you and the kids, then you need to all be on the same page regarding how to explain that to the kids.

I personally, I have to deal with this scandal, and I know it’s not easy.*

Our Lord does not expect you to renounce the marriage from which you sprang, even if it was invalid. They are your parents, and you had no part in their decision to marry in violation of canon law. Pray for them and give them no reason to be wary of the Church. Who knows, before they die, they may come back. Stranger things have happened.

Thank you all again.

I’m going to go ahead and conclude the same things that all of you have: that this visit is not sinful, and is in fact a very good thing, and that I’m not condoning their views on the Church by spending time with them in their own home.

Thanks again for your contributions, and for helping me think through all of this.

What if they don’t come back before they die or do not rectify any violations of canon law?

Of course it isn’t sinful for you to go see your parents, we are to honor them.

That being said have you ever talked to your mother about their marriage? Do they go to church at all? How many years has it been since they talked to a priest about their situation? Things on annulment have changed in recent years and they may be surprised.

I would be curious about what a priest would say now. You might be able to find out without telling them about it until you find out if you think it would upset them.

It would be wonderful if they could get things right with the church and get married in the church.


Keep in mind it is the OFFICE of parenthood you are honoring
when you visit them, and not their LIFESTYLE.
Just like when you obey the orders of your boss, you are honoring
his AUTHORITY that God has given him over you and not
him as a PERSON. I hope it will become clear to you personally!

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