Should I not have children if my husband isn't Catholic?


#1

I am married to an ex-Catholic, now a non-Christian. I’ve been told that I should not have children if by any means my husband would refuse raising them as Catholic. Does the Catholic Church ever prohibit a married couple from having children? I promised to do all in my power to raise them Catholic, but what if my husband wouldn’t allow it? What if my husband would allow me to raise them Catholic as long as they would also get to know his religion? Am I supposed to deny the openness of having children if any of these issues arises?


#2

You’ve been misinformed. While we may hope that your informant meant well, the Church does not expect you to close yourself off to the possibility of children simply because your husband isn’t Christian. Whoever told you this was offering his or her own prudential judgment about whether you should take a chance that your children would not be raised Catholic, but was not reflecting Church teaching on the matter.

The Church expects you to do the best that you can to raise your children Catholic. If your husband was Catholic at the time of your marriage, then he should respect the fact that the two of you went into marriage with the agreement that the children would be raised Catholic. If he was not Catholic at the time of the marriage, then you took a chance at the time of the marriage that he would allow you to raise the children Catholic and would not interfere in their Catholic education. He would have been informed of your responsibility at the time of the marriage, but you still took a chance – which is one of the reasons the Church strongly discourages interfaith marriages, but provides for their validity if the couple insists on marrying each other.

Marriage includes the responsibility of being open to new life and open to building a family with your husband. You should not deny him the privilege of children of his own based on what you think he might do should they come along. Instead, you should sit down with him now, share your concerns, and seek to work out with him an agreement on how your children will be raised. If need be, a marital counselor can help to facilitate the discussion.

In the meantime, your informant should be gently reminded of Jesus’ scathing assessment of the Pharisees:

They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on [other] men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move [those burdens] with their finger (Matt. 23:4).


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