Marriage and Raising Children Catholic


Hello everyone. A problematic conflict of interest has just come up between myself (Catholic) and my girlfriend (Assemblies of God).

I mentioned to her that we will have to be married by a priest and that she will have to agree to raise our children Catholic. She is vehemently opposed to both.

Does anyone have any advice on this matter? She's expressed interest in the Charismatic Catholic Renewal movement.

Thanks for your help.



As far as the wedding goes, that doesn’t have to be a problem. You can request a dispensation to be married by her pastor if that’s what she wants. It wouldn’t be unusual for her to want to be married in her own church. It’s usually granted.

Her refusing to raise the children Catholic is problematic because it reveals a big divide between you on something very basic.

You are the one who will have to promise to do all in your power to have the children baptized and raised Catholic. She doesn’t have to agree to anything, she will simply be told that you have promised that and what that promise means. The Church recognizes that she has every right to raise the children in her own faith and no longer requires the non-Catholic party to also promise to raise the children in the Catholic faith.

Unfortunately, unless you come to an agreement, one or the other of you will feel imposed upon. DH and I had settled that one early in our relationship, long before we were ready to marry. Luckily I didn’t have to face the decision you’re going to have to make.


I am a former A/G, now Catholic.

If she refuses, it’s probably because she doesn’t understand Catholicism. The A/G church has no rules about how to raise children, whereas a Catholic parent is obliged to raise his/her kids Catholic. You will be making a solemn vow to do so when you marry, so of course that will trump her non-obligation.

Regarding the wedding itself, it is possible for you to marry in the A/G church as long as they aren’t super anti-Catholic. You may or may not also be asked to do your premarital preparation in the Catholic Church as well as in the A/G (it’s fairly incomplete, as A/G do not consider marriage to be a sacrament).

My suggestion is that the pair of you take the RCIA class together so that she can learn all about Catholicism. I wish I could tell you if there was a similar class in the A/G, but I have never heard of them having any course that explains basic theology. They sort of want you to just sign up without any education. But I suppose her pastor can recommend some books or a web site about the origins of A/G and its basic philosophy.


Just to clarify, a Catholic marrying a non-Catholic does not make a solemn vow to raise any children Catholic. It's a promise to do all one can to raise them Catholic, but not a vow/promise to do so. Of course, it's a serious topic and if you both have strong feelings about it, it should be discussed thoroughly.


How long have you been in this relationship and how serious would you say it is?

I find that when considering relationships with non-Catholics, the raising the kids Catholic thing is usually something to put out there fairly early on.

I am dating a spiritually confused, but wonderful man. (Never figured I would go the non-Catholic route) I explained to him that conversions are not on demand, they ought to be sincere. So I cannot demand or expect such things, though I certainly pray for it all the time. I did explain to him that he will have to understand Catholicism for us to be married and have children.

You could explain to her how important it is to you for her to learn about your faith. How can she really love and understand you as a person if she is not willing to learn about this huge and vital part of you, your Catholic faith? I would also be concerned about the "vehement" opposition. That vehemently opposes what should be a large part of who you are.


Well, every time I make a promise to God, I make a solemn vow. I wouldn’t think of making a promise to Him that I didn’t intend to keep as if my life depended on it. But hey, to each his own.


Catholicism has a special nomenclature when it comes to vows. See here for the relevant canon law. In particular:

Can. 1192 §1. A vow is public if a legitimate superior accepts it in the name of the Church; otherwise, it is private.

§2. A vow is solemn if the Church has recognized it as such; otherwise, it is simple.


Jeff, at what point do you step back and realize that purusing a relationship with someone who is “vehemently opposed” to your faith is a bad idea? You don’t need us to tell you that you are headed down a path that is likely to have a really bad outcome.

If she is this “opposed” now, how do you expect to live out your faith life in the marriage and raise children in the Catholic faith?

I also think there is something odd about being “vehemently opposed” to marriage and raising children in the Catholic Church while simultaneously expressing “interest” in the Catholic Charismatic movement. The charismatic movement is a way of expressing oneself in worship. It is still 100% Catholic in doctrine. If she rejects Catholic doctrine, the charismatic worship service-- which is, after all, the Mass-- will not be for her.


I get the feeling that you have not had a lot of discussion with your girlfriend on faith. You also didn’t mention if she is your fiancee or how long you have been together.

In the context of faithful Christians, you should discuss how your potential lives together would work. If you remain separate, do you both envision going to own churches each week or would you go to both? Where will the children be baptized? Will there even be children (and how does she feel about contraception and abortion)? Where will they go to Sunday school, vacation bible school, and be confirmed? If both parties are intractable, the family will be at risk from inception. Do not assume that this will all “just work out.”

Explain why you are Catholic and could not convert. Ask her about her faith. Express an interest in learning more about it and attending classes. Ask if she would be willing to do the same. It might be a good idea to propose holding off on any conclusions until you do this.

Be prepared that as much as you want this to work, it may not be possible.


This is familiar territory to me. I was in a similar position some 15 years ago. I am Lutheran. Wife is Catholic. Our original plan was to be be married in the Catholic Church, but this “promise” really ended that. When I asked her priest why he would think, even though it’s not required of me, that I would ever do anything less than all in my power to raise our children Lutheran he had no answer.

To me it was as if I was being asked to admit and accept that my religious beliefs were lesser and there was no way I was ever going to do that. If the promise had been to share, explore, examine, learn I would have been fine with it.

For my wife, who already rejected many Catholic teachings, the decision to be married in a Lutheran Church was not difficult. She remains a Catholic, but the experience was such a bad one that she has never even looked at convalidating (I’ve suggested it a number of times) our marriage taking the attitude that only her, I, and God know if our marriage is valid and everyone, and everything else with an opinion on it, makes no difference. I truly have no idea why she is Catholic at times.


I’m confused as to why you referred to my comment. I didn’t make any references to not keeping promises or vows. I was just clarifying what the actual official promise is.


Why would you marry someone who will believe and teach your children that...

they have to speak in tongues to be a real Christian.

Catholics worship idols and Mary

That there will be a sooper seekret rapture

That artificial birth control is okay

That confession is a man made tradition

That the Eucharist is not Jesus

That baptism does nothing but get you wet

That divorce is okay

The only thing that you will agree with this woman on is the divinity of Christ, the Trinity and that abortion is evil.


Man, I am so sorry about you and your girlfriend.

Sometimes it is so hard to avoid falling in love with someone. When you have all these intense feelings,sometimes you overlook what can really matter.

It’s so hard for me to say this, it actually hurts. Perhaps you should re-evaluate the situation and if your really meant to be with this woman.

I’m so sorry for you. Big time prayers sent your way.

Everyone-let’s remember that a situation like this can be heartbreaking. We should all be praying for these two.


Catholics are bound by their vows and by their baptism to raise their children Catholic. It's not up for discussion. Catholics who do not do this are not living their faith.

This is why the church only allows us to marry non Catholics after we get permission. The priest is supposed to make an assessment on whether the non Catholic will hinder the Catholic's faith or support it. When he is assured that the marriage will not cause harm to the Catholic he makes his recommendation to the Bishop for dispensation.

One of the main purposes of marriage is for the spouses to help each other get into heaven. How is that going to happen when the non catholic spouse is already "vehemently" against the Catholic faith and will apparently work to prevent the Catholic Spouse from living the faith?


The RCIA idea worked well for us. My husband was raised Southern Baptist. As our relationship progressed, I informed him that my future children would be raised Catholic. He agreed and, after we got engaged, we signed up to take RCIA together. By taking RCIA, he would at least know what was going on with kids and be involved. In learning what the Catholic church really teaches, he converted. It was a wonderful experience for us to share. Needless to say, he was never “vehemently opposed.” For me, faith is a deal breaker. I’m not going to compromise my children or set myself up for a life-long battle. You will definitely be in my prayers as this could very well be a heart breaking situation.


have you talked with a priest?
I was dating a non-denomination Christan for a wail and talking to my parish priest helped
me to make the right choice :)


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