What does a protestant need to know when marrying a catholic


I have a good friend from college who is prespyterian. He contacted me recently and told me he is dating a Catholic girl (whom I’ve never met). He said things were getting pretty serious and he wanted me to get back to him with what I felt were things he should know before preposing and marrying a Catholic woman.

I’ve since talked with him once, I explained how she can’t recieve communion at his church and how he can’t at hers. I also related that Fr. Joe, the priest in their town, will have to meet with them and guide them through marriage prep. I explained that perminance of Catholic marriages. The prohabition on contraceptives and abortion.

  1. Is the above correct? I’m not married so I don’t know Catholic marriage prep to well.

  2. What additionally should be shared. Would they have to agree on raising the kids Catholic? Or is that not required? Does a priest have to witness the marriage or can they get permission for his minister to? Do they have to go on a Catholic engaged encounter retreat or attend a class?

  3. What are some positives to share with him? I realized I’m told him a bunch of “don’ts”. How can I excite him about the Church and a Catholic wife? What can I tell him about getting involved at her parish?

P.S. - I don’t really know anything on her faithfulness. He said she goes to mass, thats all I know.

Thanks. :slight_smile:


That is something your friend needs to understand ASAP.

Your friend needs to know that his possible future wife is obligated by the Catholic Church to raise the children as Catholics whether he likes it or not.

Before anything else, this must be laid bare.

If that is not a problem for him (??), then lesser issues can then follow…



No the protestant doesn’t have to make that promise anymore. This duty is mostly on the Catholic now, as she has to make all suitable effort to raise the children Catholic.

I believe they can get a dispensation, but why? In most circumstances there is no reason why both her priest and his minister cannot be participate in the wedding (assuming the minister isn’t anti-Catholic).

Yes, at least in the US (Midwest), I believe. That would be part of the Catholic marriage prep.

You can remind him that marriage for a Catholic is a sacrament - the main difference between Protestant and Catholic view on it. Encourage him to read about this sacrament (Christopher West would be my suggestion), and the Catholic faith, as well. After all, he should know what his wife (and her Church) believes and why.
Also, remind him that it is his duty as a husband to take care of the wife, and that includes supporting her in her faith, talking about it, discussing each other concerns, understanding that her duty is to attend mass weekly, etc.



The main areas are:

  1. He needs to understand the Catholic Churches teaching on Marriage. Read the Catholic Catechism on the Sacrament of Marriage, and discuss it.

  2. That she must continue practicing her Catholic faith, without interference from him. He is always welcome to attend Mass with her and she can attend his church services, but she must always meet her Mass obligations with or without him.

  3. Understand her obligation of having any and all children Baptized Catholic and raised in the Catholic faith. He can participate and help her in this, it does not exclude him and is not done in secret.


Can you provide a reference for this? It’s not what I’ve found in my research.



The basic outline includes:

They will have to attend mariage preparation classes in the Catholic Church. That may include “Engaged Encounter” or whatever marriage prep program is used in the local diocese. It will include several meetings with the priest, and paperwork.

They will both have to provide documentation of their baptism, and freedom to marry (assurance there are no prior marriages), etc.

The Catholic will also have to have permission to marry a non-Catholic. The priest will help with that requirement/paperwork.

The Catholic must promise to baptize/raise the children Catholic and the non-Catholic must be apprised of this promise.

If they choose to get married in the Catholic Church, then father will guide them on the ceremony. If for some reason they want to marry in his church, then the Catholic needs a dispensation for that from the Bishop. I would assume since she’s the bride they’d marry in her church so the dispensation wouldn’t be necessary.

You are correct regarding Church teachings. A Catechism would be a nice gift for him. You might also encourage him to go to RCIA–there is no obligatoin to covert at all. It would be a good place for him to learn more about her faith tradition.


The following canons on Mixed Marriage in Canon Law seem to apply:Canon 1124 Without the express permission of the competent authority, marriage is prohibited between two baptised persons, one of whom was baptised in the catholic Church or received into it after baptism and has not defected from it by a formal act, the other of whom belongs to a Church or ecclesial community not in full communion with the catholic Church. Canon 1125 The local Ordinary can grant this permission if there is a just and reasonable cause. He is not to grant it unless the following conditions are fulfilled: the catholic party is to declare that he or she is prepared to remove dangers of defecting from the faith, and is to make a sincere promise to do all in his or her power in order that all the children be baptised and brought up in the catholic Church; the other party is to be informed in good time of these promises to be made by the catholic party, so that it is certain that he or she is truly aware of the promise and of the obligation of the catholic party both parties are to be instructed about the purposes and essential properties of marriage, which are not to be excluded by either contractant.


Thanks to all for the responses. I admit that it isn’t all crystal clear, but I’m sure the priest can clear the technicalities up instead of my trying to doing so.

But being able to provide some basic answers will help. Offering a Catechism to him sounds good.

Thanks again :slight_smile:


Don’t they have the vow to lovingly accept children and raise them in the faith??? I forget the exact wording but I know that was part of our vows when I got married…


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