My fiancé is Greek Orthodox and I have some questions/concerns

So I have always been Roman Catholic. My fiancé however was non denominational all his life up until August 2017 when he started to go to the orthodox church and fell in love with it. He is getting baptized in the church in February 2018. We were engaged before all this happened and he has agreed if we have children which right now we don’t plan to because of my career, that they would be raised Catholic and he still feels that way.
However I have read some forums on here saying that the Orthodox Church requires children to be baptized in their church. Is this true? My fiancé said he talked to his priest and that he said there would be no problem in marrying someone non Orthodox and that we would just have to have another wedding in the Orthodox Church and said that it wouldn’t be a problem if we both chose to raise our children Catholic so now I’m a bit confused after reading stuff like that on here.

Also my fiancé has said that after we get married that during the times of Lent and fasting ( apparently the Orthodox fast a lot throughout the year) that we can’t have sex… um excuse me?! I know that there is definitely no hard and fast rule about this in the Catholic Church and from all the research I’ve donw there is no set in stone rule about this in the Orthodox Church either. Also apparently in the Orthodox Church you are appointed spiritual parents or something that is who you go to if you have problems in your marriage and they kind of decide what happens… I am not ok with this because we have had problems in our relationship before because we have let other people in and I also don’t like how big of a say the spiritual parents will have in our marriage.

Any advice? A part of me feels like since he is still new to the church he is just latching on to what anyone says even if he hasn’t done any research on the topic itself. I have brought this up to him but he says that is definitely not it and I feel like he won’t really be up for discussions on stuff like no sex for lent and just say no that’s the way my church is and that will inevitably cause problems in our marriage.

The Catholic Church encourages Catholics marrying Orthodox to do so in the Orthodox Church as the Orthodox do not recognize the marriage if it happens in the Catholic Church (in general). You and your fiancé would go through marriage prep in both churches (the priests may want to work together on that). You would receive permission to marry in the Orthodox Church and the ceremony would take place there.

It is good that the Orthodox priest has given your fiancé assurance about baptizing the children in the Catholic Church.

During marriage prep you are going to need to learn about Orthodox traditions and disciplines.

Yet again something to discuss with the Orthodox priest and have him explain to you.

I can tell you that there are many struggles in a Catholic-Orthodox marriage. He isn’t even baptized into the Orthodox Church yet. I would suggest you prolong your engagement. What if he changes his mind about raising children Orthodox after he’s baptized Orthodox?

I briefly dated an Orthodox man I really liked. I could easily have married him, and vice versa. We were both extremely active in our respective churches, and when we talked about it we knew that he could never be Catholic and I could never be Orthodox and he would expect to raise Orthodox children and I would expect to raise Catholic children. And, we decided not to torture ourselves and to stop dating. We knew it could never be resolved in marriage satisfactorily for either of us.

Also, you mentioned you don’t plan to have children because of your career. Do you mean you want to delay children or that you have a permanent intention against children? These are different things and they impact a Catholic’s ability to marry validly.

Ginnyb98,

The “spiritual parents” thing is not something I’ve ever heard of. I had heard of the sexual abstinence during Lent and other fasts. What I have heard is that the counsel of their Orthodox pastor is very important to the faithful, and that pastors do a lot of dispensations for the good of the faithful.

I suspect that one of the biggest problems for a Catholic woman married to an Orthodox man is dealing with the fasting requirements for food (which are very strict and complicated compared to Catholic fasting). If you were doing all of the cooking, I think it would drive you nuts (unless you’re already vegan or something).

I see a big problem here in that your fiance has yet to make it through a single Orthodox Lent and yet he’s converting soon. I would suggest slowing down and seeing how he manages–don’t set a wedding date until he’s settled into Orthodox practice and you’ve talked through your questions.

Also, you should be talking to his Orthodox pastor (and perhaps his wife) about your concerns.

Best wishes!

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Another issue to talk about is family planning.

The Eastern Orthodox can be very squishy about contraception–I’ve heard this is one of the areas where there are a lot of pastoral dispensations.

Even if your future husband doesn’t give you any problems there, and even if the two of you are totally accepting of each other’s traditions, combining Orthodox sexual abstinence during fasts and Catholic NFP has the potential to put you into a sexless marriage.

But you’ll know a lot more as you go along.

I would but we are in a long distance relationship. He’s in the military and I’m finishing up school so I can’t really go with him to talk to the priest. My fiancé keeps trying to tell me that since Catholics and Orthodox are so similar that they have similar customs and that I’m pretty much freaking out over nothing. To be honest I wasn’t huge on him joining because I also felt it was a bit rushed like how some other posters commented but I know if I say something he will probably just take it as bias towards his church

Can’t we have a wedding in the Catholic Church and have another one or some ceremony in the Orthodox Church? To be honest I don’t really see compromising on the Catholic wedding

If it’s theologically kosher for you to have an Orthodox wedding and you get your boxes checked with your parish, I wouldn’t worry about that.

The Orthodox have really pretty weddings!

It’s the day-to-day stuff where I worry a lot more for you. Your fiance hasn’t lived a full liturgical year in the Orthodox church yet, so there’s a lot he doesn’t know at this point. You’re not wrong to be concerned when neither of you really knows what you would be getting into.

Also, I have to warn you that there is a minority of weird anti-Catholic Orthodox.

It is not valid for the Orthodox party. And, no you can’t have two weddings.

It IS a Catholic wedding, in that it is VALID in the Catholic Church. You receive permission to have the ceremony in the Orthodox Church. In fact, this is the way the Catholic Church handles Catholic/Orthodox marriages-- the marriage ceremony should take place in the Orthodox Church.

If you can’t see compromising on this-- I think you really need to rethink this whole thing.

It’s important that the Catholic follow the Catholic Church’s way of handling this, and also respect that the Orthodox must marry in the Orthodox Church for it to be recognized.

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Then find an Orthodox priest of the same tradition (Greek, Russian, whatever) where you are or online who will work with you and answer your questions. Skype with his pastor if you have to.

Yeah, that’s not the case. There are many similarities but there are also many differences. He doesn’t even fully understand his own new religion, let alone yours.

No one is trying to scare you here, but there are real differences and I think you are right not to underestimate them.

Also, if you are long distance from him, and you are both young, then I absolutely recommend you put the brakes on any talk of marriage until you are both living in the same place and you’ve spent time in each other’s faith tradition attending Mass and Divine Liturgies, talking with your pastor and his pastor.

I hope you understand that Divine Liturgy in the Orthodox Church does NOT fulfill your Sunday obligation, so you will either be going to two services per weekend as a couple OR you will each be spending your Sundays at your own services, attending separately.

There are a lot of red flags here, Ginny. Honestly.

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Oh trust me I’ve met them which is why I haven’t been keen on him joining the Orthodox Church. I don’t know if they are anti but we went to lunch with a couple from the church( going to be his god parents at the baptism) and the wife would make snide remarks every now and then about the Catholic Church which obviously I didn’t like. And we are already having disagreements on theologies and timelines of stuff. Which is another reason I don’t really want to get married in the Orthodox Church

He has gone to mass with me and I have gone to his ( wasn’t a huge fan) but we have been engaged for about 2 years so we’ve talked about a lot of issues and we have agreed that we will be attending different services. I have been very skeptical about him moving so fast within the Greek Orthodox Church and I have made it known so now anytime I bring up anything about it he feels like I am attacking him and trying to make him be Catholic with I’ve have NEVER brought up before. He just says that he feels like this is the right church for him so he wants to be baptized as soon as possible and of course everyone in the church things it’s it great and not going to tell him otherwise.
He has been going to bible study and church like 3 days a week for the past 6 months and is in their cathetumine ( pretty sure that’s wrong spelling) program.

If you don’t mind saying, how old are you guys?

Long term, that is going to be a big bummer for you both, especially once you have children.

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Well, then you need to consider that marrying an Orthodox Christian is not for you. Seriously. Because his church requires it and the Catholic Church recognizes this fact.

Here’s some more info on Catholic-Orthodox marriage, from the USCCB:

http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/ecumenical-and-interreligious/ecumenical/orthodox/pastoral-orthodox-catholic-marriage.cfm

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https://orthodoxwiki.org/List_of_Orthodox_Internet_communities

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I’ve been following this fascinating conversation, as it’s very enlightening to me. You’re getting excellent advice.
One question I have is: What made him decide that he WANTED to be Orthodox?
Is it their liturgy? Is there a distant family tradition here? Is it the mystique of it?
What would be the downside to him choosing Roman Catholicism in his opinion?

Or, an Eastern Rite Catholic Church in communion with Rome? Would he be open to an Eastern Catholic Church instead of entering the Orthodox Church?

Why Orthodox vs Catholic is an excellent question.

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You all had better sit down and hash all of this out for SURE before any “I dos”. Also if you are unsure of anything he is saying in regards to your Catholic Faith take all of your questions to your Catholic priest. Y’all need to be 100% on the same page about EVERYTHING up front.

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I’m 22 and he’s going to be 29 soon

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