Want to convert, but not allowed


#1

Hello everyone,

This is the first time I am posting on this forum so I ask that you treat me gently as I have little to no knowledge of Catholic doctrine and in particular, canon law surrounding the Sacraments.

I am getting married in just under 4 months. We have had a very short engagement and due to our age and desire to start a family, we don’t see any value in a long engagement.

My fiance is Catholic and I am a baptized non-practicing Seventh-day Adventist. My fiance would like to raise our children Catholic, which I am not opposed to, but I will only agree to do so under the condition that I convert. This is not a demand from my husband-to-be, since he’s not even practicing, but it’s important to me because I was raised in an interfaith home (my father is Catholic) and I want unity in belief and practice within the home. Sadly, many people from my church often made derogatory remarks about my father and my parent’s marriage not being valid because of his faith. I want to avoid this at all costs for my children.

Having said this, my fiance was married in the Catholic Church many years ago. The relationship lasted 8 months, but he failed to obtain an annulment since he’s no longer practices. I’m not sure if he will ever obtain an annulment because of his beliefs regarding the process, which, but because of his decision I am unable to begin RCIA classes in our parish.

When the local priest told me this I was quite taken back. I don’t understand the reasoning and find this a rather un-Christian attitude. I understand that we cannot be married in the RC Church, but I don’t understand why I can’t even be confirmed!?

At this point, I think this could be a sign from God that this is not the right church to raise my family in. I do not want my children to be told that their mother is lost because she’s not Catholic or that their father is married to another woman! As I said, I was told similar things about my father during my upbringing and would never submit my child to it.

I have told my fiance that the only way I will raise a child Catholic is that if our family is recognized in every respect (meaning that he needs to obtain an annulment), but that is his choice to make. I have been looking into the Anglican Church as an alternative, but he’s dead-set against it and replies “He’s a Catholic” every time I bring it up.

Perhaps someone can shed some light on what I can do to get around this. I feel quite innocent in all this since I sincerely want to join the church.

Thank-you in advance for your reply.

Regards,
Shawna


#2

I would think the priest’s reasoning is that he doesn’t want to put you into a situation of sin. If you become Catholic, you are bound by the marriage laws of the Church. If your fiance won’t get an annulment, that means you can’t marry him, and would sin by doing so.

God Bless


#3

Thank you for your reply.

I can see your pooint, but if I were to pass away before being confirmed, is that not a greater sin?


#4

No one here would contradict what your local priest has advised you. I have prayed and will pray for a clear path to be set before you.

If your heart is pure and a closeness to God is the goal leave it to Him.


#5

No.


#6

Yeah like most others here I would highly recommend that you find a good priest and get your husband together with you and the priest and sort this out. Don’t worry about what will happen if you pass away before you get this figured out. God knows the intentions of your heart and would not hold against you things beyond your control. It is fantastic that you are interested in the Catholic faith, there is a lot you will learn in RCIA and I hope that you will continue to learn on your own as well.


#7

Also as far as long engagements are concerned you do realize that you will have to do marriage preparation for six months right?


#8

Shawnee,

I think your priest is more concerned that you wish to convert just for the marriage, rather than converting because you really and truly believe in the Faith. He is concerned that you will be entering the Church unprepared.


#9

Give the Apologist line at Catholic Answers a call --it can be better to discuss this sort of thing more “live” than via a forum.


#10

I would start by discussing with your fiance why he won’t seek an annulment.

If he wishes to raise his children Catholic, then it would be best if he were practicing, or at the very least in a valid marriage, but that can’t happen unless he receives an annulment.

The RCIA thing I believe is for your protection, and God would not hold you accountable if you were unable to become Catholic if the desire to be Catholic is in your heart. If something is out of your control, it wouldn’t be your fault, and therefore not your sin if sin is there to begin with.

I would suggest also talking to a priest about your situation and your desire to learn more and become Catholic.


#11

If you fiancé is truly Catholic, he would be expected to marry in the Catholic Church and raise his children in the Church. How can he do either, really, if he doesn’t get an annulment, go through precana with all the marriage preparation and all?

For myself, I wouldn’t consider the Catholic Church the problem in this one. As a Catholic, if I were to try to marry another Catholic who didn’t have an annulment, I would also have problems.

In your situation, I would ask my fiancé to get an annulment. If he wouldn’t, it would begin to raise some red flags to me about the seriousness of his faith. I would think he didn’t care much about it, me, or his children, if he weren’t to at least try his absolute best.

Were I to be in a similar situation, I think I would think as much as I cared about and loved him, if he was unwilling to make our marriage sacramentally legitimate, I would question his commitment to Church, me, God…the whole thing.


#12

What needs to happen is the persons marriage needs to be looked into to see if it was really a marriage. He is presumed to be married until then (despite their separation) – for marriage is until death --especially sacramental marriage. But he may not be actually married and that is what needs to be looked into.

Marriage is very important -and one must be free to enter into a marriage (that is for example one must be not validly married already in reality).


#13

Where are you getting married in 4 months. Not in a Catholic Church.

That might have something to do with it as well.


#14

Dear Sister,

Regarding strictly the RCIA part, all non-Catholics are encouraged to attend with the understanding that this is an inquiry process, a process of learning and personal discernment, with NO COMMITMENT on either side to actually make the conversion take place. You should be able to walk away from the RCIA without converting and becoming Catholic, and the Catholic priest should also be able to deny to accept you into the Catholic Church, if he feels that you don’t actually understand and/or are ready to follow through with the commitment involved in becoming a Catholic. I’m a bit puzzled as to why the Catholic priest won’t allow you to sign up and start attending the RCIA classes.

I mean, frankly, you have nothing to lose by enrolling into RCIA and attending RCIA classes, and I don’t understand why the Catholic priest doesn’t see it the same way.

Even the longest journey starts with the first step, and we are not talking about you actually converting to the Catholic Church at this point, or marrying your fiancee, because the Catholic Church will NEVER agree to marry you as long as he doesn’t obtain a declaration of nullity on his first marriage. We are simply talking about you enrolling into RCIA classes, learning about the Catholic Church, and discerning whether you truly believe and are ready to obey what the Catholic Church teaches. It truly wouldn’t make any sense for you to become a Catholic, and a Catholic priest would rightfully refuse to accept you into the Catholic Church, unless you were ready to believe and obey/follow all that the Catholic Church teaches.

Regarding your fiancee, he seems to be a fallen-away Catholic, i.e. someone who is still a part of the Catholic Church, but refuses to follow the Church’s requirement regarding his duty to obtain a declaration of nullity on his first marriage, before becoming eligible to marry you. Your fiancee has two options: he should either bring himself into submission to the Church’s rules, and apply to the Marriage Tribunal to see whether his first marriage was invalid and whether he can obtain a declaration of nullity on his first marriage, or alternatively he may wish to defect from the Catholic Church by a formal act - that is, write a formal letter to his parish priest, letting him know that he wishes to leave the Catholic Church and no longer be a Catholic.

Not that I recommend that your fiancee defect from the Catholic Church - we Catholics believe that he would put his eternal salvation in serious danger and he will end up damned to the fires of hell for all eternity for doing that, unless there was some mitigating factor to his decision such as ignorance - I’m just mentioning this possibility in order to give you a full picture of your fiancee’s options. Many people think the Catholic Church is somehow lacking in charity when it insists that people should obtain a declaration of nullity on their previous marriage, until they are clearly explained this simple truth: even as a fallen-away Catholic, you are still a Catholic, and you are still expected to abide by the rules of the Catholic Church, unless and until you elect to leave the Catholic Church by a FORMAL ACT OF DEFECTION (official letter to the parish priest).


#15

#1 Your fiance needs to get an annulment. Otherwise, he is still married to his ex-wife in the eyes of the Church. And if he’s really a Catholic, he believes that Jesus started the Catholic Church, so the old marriage is still valid in God’s eyes as well.

#2 You need to go through pre-Cana and marriage prep. These classes are designed to help you learn about the Catholic view of marriage, to prepare for the marriage, and to spot any potential red flags. You must go through this process in order to be married in the Catholic Church because if you do not, the priest will not agree to marry you. The process usually takes between six and nine months. Waiting until just four months from your wedding date, when your fiances is still married to another woman (no annulment) is going to make it impossible to get married in the Catholic Church.

I don’t understand why people don’t seek annulments right away. If it’s because they believe their marriage is valid then they have no business dating other people. :frowning:


#16

Formal acts of defection no longer have any canonical effect.

Omnium in mentem, 2009.


#17

Greetings,

Let me say a few things to you in this regard that may or may not be of some assistance.

  1. Although I understand the desire for some sort of common faith, it is absolutely not a good idea to join the Catholic Church if you do not believe what the Church teaches. If you are interested in learning more, then that’s great. But unless you actually believe the teachings of the Church, it would be very unwise to join. Joining the Catholic Church is not like signing up at a Baptist Church, it is a very serious ordeal.

  2. The Catholic Church takes marriage very seriously. Marriage is a Sacrament in the Church, and if done in a valid way it can be dissolved in no other way besides death. Annulments are not guaranteed to be granted because only a marriage that was invalid can be annulled.

  3. Members of the Catholic Church are expected to live by the commands of Christ regarding marriage. A Catholic who was in a valid marriage but has now remarried is in many senses cut off from the Church and the sacraments, and engaging in a marriage that is not valid, such as a Catholic marrying outside the Church, can prevent someone from joining the Catholic Church.


#18

I would also take issue with your characterization of not being “allowed” to convert. That is not being Truthful.

Truthfully, you want to convert because of some odd notion you have all the while flaunting Church teaching on marriage and being married validly and in the Catholic faith.

Basically if you are getting married in 4 months outside the Church anyway you are saying I want to convert for the name and the free donuts at RCIA class but I intend to flaunt the Church and defy her from the get go.:frowning:

You are not allowing yourself to convert. It has nothing to do with the Church not allowing you.


#19

To those advising that the OP’s fiance “get” an annulment, surely you are aware that “getting” an annulment is not just a routine automatic process. It maybe that her fiance is in a valid marriage and there would not be able to “get” an annulment. And given that the OP states that her fiance “was married in the Catholic Church,” unfortunately this may be the case.


#20

Actually it is very Christian, since we presume that the original marriage was entered into in good faith. To doubt that good faith without absolute proof (Declaration of Nullity) would be very un-Christian indeed, since without evidence we would be calling one or both parties to the marriage a liar.

Christian marriage is permanent, and lasts until the death of one of the spouses. Divorce cannot end the marriage (“What God has joined, let no man sunder” - Matthew 19:6); it only means the husband and wife live in different houses. Only death can actually dissolve the marriage and free the surviving spouse to be married again.

I presume you understand what it means, to be living with someone else’s husband, or even just living with a man without the benefit of marriage.

That is the reason you can’t receive the Sacraments of the Catholic Church, until the situation has been resolved.

I realize this seems harsh, but in reality, giving the benefit of the doubt to the original marriage is actually the most charitable thing we can do. By recognizing the first wife’s claim on her husband, we are upholding the sacredness of marriage, and the true meaning of love.


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