What do I do now that my husband is reneging on raising our children Catholic?

I am a Catholic and my husband is Lutheran. I am pregnant right now with our first child. We were married in the Catholic Church and he agreed to raise our children in the Catholic Church. I want our baby to be baptized in the Catholic Church, but the godparents both need to be Catholic, which makes his family unable to be candidates. He will be very upset about this. What do I do or say?

Also, we live in a rural area with only Lutheran elementary schools. I do not want my child to go to a Lutheran school; I want my child to go to a Catholic school but there are none in the area. He is fighting with me about it because he says the education is good at a particular Lutheran school. I believe my child’s faith is more important, and would sooner send them to public school with religious education through my Catholic church. Can someone give me advice or let me know how I can get through to my husband that the Catholic faith is very important? He is strong in his faith, but does not practice his faith as much as I practice mine. I tell him about the Catholic faith as I learn more about it, but he just thinks all Christian faiths are the same.

Assuming your report here is accurate, your husband’s idea that all Christian faiths are the same is irrelevant. What should matter is that he gave his word that you could raise your children Catholic and now he apparently is reneging on that agreement. He needs to understand that his agreement to raise the children Catholic has consequences, which means that godparents must be Catholic (although a favorite relative of his could witness the baptism as a Christian witness) and that the child’s education must be Catholic (whether it be homeschooling or secular education supplemented by CCD). In as gentle and non-judgmental a manner as possible, you should remind him that a man’s word is his bond and to break his word to anyone (but especially to you, his wife) is dishonorable and beneath his dignity as a man. If you need help in fostering this communication, I recommend talking with a Catholic marriage counselor. You can receive counseling or a referral for counseling from the Pastoral Solutions Institute.

As a side note (and offered for the benefit of other readers of this forum), predicaments like this are the reason why I personally caution Catholics that, if passing on their faith to their children is important to them, a verbal agreement to raise children Catholic by a non-Catholic at the time of marriage is insufficient. People don’t feel particularly bound by a verbal agreement that they understand someone else’s responsibilities to remain Catholic and raise children Catholic. The previous discipline of the Church that non-Catholics sign a written agreement was much more binding upon a non-Catholic’s conscience – and, because the Church has no disciplinary authority over non-Catholics, is probably the reason why the Church did away with that discipline. The best course of action is for faithful Catholics to marry other faithful Catholics. Failing that, a Catholic marrying a non-Catholic may want to consider drawing up a personal written agreement between his potential spouse and himself that the children will be raised Catholic and that the non-Catholic agrees to support this endeavor. The couple should consult a canon lawyer to draft appropriate wording for such an agreement.

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