What can prevent someone from 'becoming Catholic'?


I posted this yesterday on ‘Ask an Apologetic’ but have yet to hear an answer. I’m a bit impatient, sorry.

A friend who once attended our local church mentioned before she quit coming that her husband had approached our parish priest about attending RCIA and his interest in converting. Apparently, an incident arose between the priest and my friend’s husband and he was told that he could not ‘become a Catholic’. I’m dumbfounded - my friend will not speak anymore about this incident - as to what exactly could prevent someone from converting. Could it just have been a personal issue between the two parties where the priest could have said that he would have nothing to do with this man’s wish to convert? Or is there something in doctrine or dogma or canon law?

I did recommend that they attend a different church in the next town - which actually is part of the neighboring Ft, Worth diocese (I worship within the Dallas Diocese) - and where they could approach another priest about her husband’s intentions. It’s been a while since I saw my this friend so I’m not sure what has happened since.


How late in the year did he want to join the RCIA class? There’s a certain point where it’s too late to join the class, it would be silly to try and join the class a few weeks before Easter. The Priest would have said, that they would need to wait for the next class.

To move from one Protestant Church to another s a pretty simple thing, kind of just show up and add your name to the mailing list. Perhaps he did not want to wait for a year or more??


There may be some impediment that your friend doesn’t want to reveal, such as a former unresolved marriage (not saying that’s it, but something along those lines). Whatever it is, it is up to the persons involved to sort it out, and if they won’t tell you what it is, I can’t see how you can help them, besides praying for them.


As far as I know, the person approached Fr. long before RCIA began - I haven’t seen them at church since last summer. Yes, the gentleman has been married before and has grown children from his previous marriage. If he didn’t disclose it, I know that his wife would. The gentleman never saw eye-to-eye with our priest, mostly concerning money issues. He thought Fr. was too pre-occupied with alms-giving. This much I know. He had faithfully attended Mass for several years with his wife and daughter upon moving to our parish. It’s really sad, especially for their daughter as she had made such good friends and the kids miss her. Yes, they are in our prayers. I’m just curious to know how someone could be refused entry into the church.


It could be personal but could also be an issue like a prior Marriage or something.


I’ve already covered the past marriage. I don’t believe that could have been a hindrance. I could understand if a non-Catholic wanted to marry a Catholic in church - and they were married in a civil marriage (as my father was). I can understand that being an impediment to marrying a Catholic in church. I just never thought someone could be basically told ‘go away, you’re not acceptable’. As I understood it, this gentleman was willing to do whatever it took, whatever Father asked of him in order to convert. All I can think of is that Father might have said something outrageous and that’s when all came crashing down. (Incidentally, I just spoke with someone who found out that the couple have since moved to the town where Father is parish priest. But no word on whether they attend Father’s services.) I mean, it’s that easy to become a Protestant or Muslim.

As an aside to the first response, I have a cousin who is a Nazarene minister. He was on the verge of converting but couldn’t wait a whole year for RCIA as he’d just missed the deadline. But 'til this very day, he carries in his pant pocket a rosary given to him by a priest in Boston who became a very good friend. And when he visits during vacations and attends Mass with us, he will say all the prayers and sign himself - even in front of his wife, virulently ‘not-fond-of-catholicism’. Hehe.


A priest might refuse to admit a person to his particular RCIA program for a range of reasons. It could be personal, it could be that the person’s motives for attending are not consistent with smooth functioning of the group, it could be that there are complex issues like prior marriages which are best dealt with in another way.
However he cannot prohibit someone from seeking to be received into the church. There is always another priest.


the most common situation that occurs involves marriage. Either the person has been divorced and remarried, and when they are advised about the need to pursue an annulment they take offense. Or they are married to a Catholic but not in the Church and one or the other balks at having the marriage convalidated. We have several people who have completed all the classes for confirmation but are awaiting resolution of some situation related to marriage.

The second most common problem we see is someone who obstinately refuses to even consider accepting Church teaching on essential points of doctrine: the divinity of Jesus, the sacrifcial priesthood, the sacramental economy, the Eucharist etc. If they are recalcitrant it is almost always because of lifetime adherence to a denomination that is notably anti-Catholic in outlook.


it is highly unlikely that “as we understood it” actually means we who might know this person actually do know all the factors. It is far more likely that an issue the gentlemen is either unwilling or unable to resolve is the hindrance.


A person is prevented if they refuse to repent of serious sin. If they are not willing to conform to the teachings of Christ, they cannot be received.


Okay, everytime I come back here I find I’ve left out information. I, personally, cannot conceive that a former marriage would have been an impediment for this reason (and I could be wrong) - this gentleman and his wife (she’s the Catholic) were married IN CHURCH as she was in good standing to receive communion every week. This would mean that his previous marriage was likely conducted in a Protestant house of worship and therefore not recognized. Only a civil marriage would be recognized by the church as a valid marriage.

I know about these last two points well as my parents - Dad being Protestant and a divorce & Mom a Portuguese-mission Catholic - did not marry in church. At the time, the Bishop of Macau refused to be honest and tell my mother that my dad could have his civil marriage annulled in order for them to marry in church (this was in 1971, definitely post-Vatican II). And my husband and his ex-wife - both Catholics - married in a Baptist church; therefore, his marriage was deemed null & void in the eyes of the Church so we could ourselves marry in church.

That leaves me to suspect that it was likely something personal that arose between the two parties. I don’t believe this guy did not refuse to accept dogma & doctrine. Like I mentioned, he faithfully attended Mass for the past 5 or 6 years and was looking forward to the conversion process. He was a prominent member in the church’s Men’s Club and was very involved with the church community. He bent over backwards for us and for that we’re very grateful. I suspect that perhaps his politics & Father’s (both well-known to all of us) did not mesh. While I respect this priest, I’d say he’d do very well as the ‘family priest’ to the Kennedy clan. Need I say more?

I’ll leave this thread alone for now. Perhaps my friend & her family might come back at Easter to visit. Maybe then I could politely press her into opening up. Thanks to all for your insight into the possibilities. I agree wholeheartedly with one poster - there are always other priests. They, too, are human and can allow emotions to get in the way of better judgement. No different from us lay persons.

God bless & thank you.


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