Marriage Quandry


**My Cousin will be getting married in October. He is not, and never has been, a Catholic. The girl he is marrying was raised Catholic, attended a local Catholic High school, and her entire family are Catholics. **

**It is my understanding that, per the request of the Bride’s family, the wedding will take place in a Catholic Church before a priest. My cousin, however, refuses to bring any subsequent children up as Catholics. I do not know how it is that (barring any change of my cousin’s heart) any priest could agree to celebrate a wedding in which the marriage will not be sacramental in the Catholic sense, unless the priest is skirting the issue, or my cousin is being untruthful with the priest (which I am hesitant to believe). **

Here’s the rub: I AM Catholic. I don’t know the Bride or her family very well at all, but I know darn well what this means for the validity of this marriage…my family, most of whom are not Catholic, would have no understanding of the issue at hand. I am also 200 miles away from where all of this is unfolding. As a faithful Catholic, what is my role here in witnessing for the truth in this matter?


In addition to the requirement that she “declare that [she] is prepared to remove dangers of defecting from the faith”, Code of Canon Law (CIC) requires your cousin’s bride-to-be to “make a sincere promise to do all in [her] power so that all offspring are baptized and brought up in the Catholic Church” (CIC 1125.1). Your cousin, on the other hand, need only “be informed at an appropriate time about the promises which [she] is to make, in such a way that it is certain that [he] is truly aware of [her] promise and obligation” (CIC 1125.2). He is not required to make the same promises.

The *New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law * explains, “Permission for a mixed marriage can be granted even when it is foreseen that the Catholic’s efforts to pass on the Catholic faith will probably be fruitless because of the resistance of the non-Catholic spouse. In these circumstances, the Catholic party can fulfill his or her obligation, at least in part, by playing an active part in contributing to the Christian atmosphere of the home; doing all that is possible by word and example to enable the other members of the family to appreciate the specific values of the Catholic tradition; taking whatever steps are necessary to be informed about his/her own faith so as to be able to explain and discuss it with them; praying with the family for the grace of Christian unity as the Lord wills it. Doing all that one can does not include so insisting on the Catholic formation of children that the stability of the marriage is threatened. What is necessary is a sincere promise by the Catholic to do all in his or her power to assure the Catholic formation of children. The sincerity of that promise is to be presumed, unless there is evidence to the contrary.”

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