Marriage and Family Life Morality Questions

1.) A man and a woman have multiple children together and are living together and supporting each other. Both are Catholic. They are civilly married, but not Sacramentally. They also love each other. Here’s where the question gets sticky: Since they got civilly married outside the Church while they were both Catholic, they are technically sinning by having relations as long as their marriage has not been convalidated. However, the man has a change of heart and desires to return to the Church. He wants to get their marriage blessed, but she doesn’t because she knows she would have to make a promise not to use birth control. He has told her about NFP, but she won’t budge. What is he supposed to do?

2.) This one is much simpler. Is it ever OK not to allow a baby to be baptized?

I’m no expert, but here’s my take.

  1. The husband must at all costs avoid mortal sin. If the wife won’t budge on the contraception issue, the couple will have to abstain. If the wife will not accept that, the husband can ask for an annulment. A marriage between two Catholics that didn’t take place in a church with a priest is invalid. This would be different if it were two Muslims that converted to Catholicism. After their conversion, their marriage would be considered valid. Catholics must marry in the church though.

  2. Catholics are obligated to raise their children in the faith, which includes all the necessary Sacraments like Baptism. It is a grave sin for a Catholic couple not to do this. Whether it was mortal or not would depend on the circumstances. For example, if a couple is fighting over how to raise the children, the spouse that wants to baptize the children would be only committing a venial sin. The spouse that refuses to baptize the children would be committing a mortal sin.

1.) I see.

2.) I was actually referring to instances when priests refuse to baptize babies of illegitimate marriages. I’ve never understood why.

He should make an appointment to talk to his local pastor about resuming the practice of the faith and convalidating the marriage. It seems they have some misconceptions about the process. There is no promise regarding birth control. Of course, contraception is intrinsically evil, however the man should be under guidance of his priest regarding how to handle this situation with his spouse. If she does not want to convalidate through a simple convalidation (exchange of consent in Catholic form) then the man could pursue a radical sanation.

Step 1: Make an appointment with the pastor.

In general, no:

Can.* 867 §1. Parents are obliged to take care that infants are baptized in the first few weeks; as soon as possible after the birth or even before it, they are to go to the pastor to request the sacrament for their child and to be prepared properly for it.

The pastor will have to do his due diligence as to whether the parents intend to fulfill their obligation in raising the child in the faith. If the pastor has doubt regarding the likelihood of the child being raised in the faith he would need to delay baptism and work with the parents:

Can.* 868 2/ there must be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion; if such hope is altogether lacking, the baptism is to be delayed according to the prescripts of particular law after the parents have been advised about the reason.

This is not correct. See here. The man needs to be under the guidance of his confessor, and the confessor can evaluation the situation.

Well, this is not quite true either.

It is correct that the marriage is not currently valid, but it is due to lack of form. The spouse in question is not interested in separating and seeking a declaration of freedom to marry (lack of form is not a decree of nullity as there is no judicial process). The spouse is seeking to bring the marriage into the Church.

I see no reason to point the OP in the direction of separating when they have come here asking about how to convalidate their marriage. The answer to that is that they need to go see their pastor, who can work through the difficulties and fears the wife may have and help the couple come to a resolution that will allow the husband to resume the sacraments.

I agree, they should try to work out their differences first. My assumption was that they were already passed that point. For some reason I don’t remember reading about the kids though. I think for the sake of the kids, it would be best to stay together even if the couple will be committing grave sin. It probably won’t be mortal, as abandoning the kids, to me, would be much worse. Thanks for the corrections.

  1. This is not correct. As others have said, consulst with a priest on this issue. In general, if the wife insists on using contraception, the husband is NOT obligated to abstain from all sexual activity to avoid sinning. As long as he mentions to her that he is opposed to it and would prefer she did not (not every time they have sex, but at least once at the beginning), and she says she still insists on it, then it is not his obligation to abstain from sex until she stops.

Please consult with your priest on this.

Pope Francis has actually said that priests can’t refuse to baptize children of illegitimate marriages or children of single parents

This has been a wealth of information. Thank you. Nobody had ever told me about a radical sanation or about the finer points of married life morality. I guess it all got caught up in the politics, so you never hear about these things. Again, thank you.

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