What should we do if someone is converting for the WRONG reasons?

I have struggled with a couple of cases of this in the past… I have known 2 people who were at least claiming to start to like Catholicism. In one case I was quite convinced the person was doing it for the wrong reasons (to posture for a love interest).

I took the tact of saying not to convert for any reasons that didn’t stem from themselves and God. But I’m curious… Is it good to let them carry on a sham if it gets them to at least research God and go to Church? I almost wonder if I was too harsh in denouncing their path. It might have done them good…

It’s not up to us to decide if someone is making a change in their life for the right reasons or the wrong ones.

I’ve had many people start RCIA because they’re dating, engaged to, or married to a Catholic and they also want to be Catholic. Is that the best reason to become Catholic? Probably not.

On the other hand, someone who is willing to explore the Church because they want their family to be united in faith or want to understand their spouse’s or fiance’s beliefs better is acting generously and out of love. There’s nothing wrong with that! The Holy Spirit has lots of room to work when someone is acting out of love.

I hope that by the time they’re ready to be baptized or received into the Church that their reasons go deeper, and usually they do. One of my favorite lines came from a catechumen who said she started RCIA because of her then-boyfriend. But, she said, “if we broke up tomorrow, I would still want to become Catholic. Now it’s about my relationship with God rather than with [boyfriend].” She’s not the only one to feel that way.

It is none of your business on the motivations or reasoning of others. Yes, you were wrong to discourage anyone from exploring becoming Catholic. I am not sure what good you think you have done. Again, you can’t see someone’s heart and it is none of your concern. A little judgemental is calling it a sham.

Let them alone. God’s ways are better than ours. It may be God’s way of bringing them to the Church. If he was insincere in his intentions, and received communion, he would be committing a mortal sin. But God is still above even that. And if on his death bed or crushed by life this man sincerely turns to God and can fully experience God’s salvation because he ironically joined the Church, then that is good.

I will post some more details since I can see how this looks bad. It still might, but here goes:

They literally TOLD me it was to get a date >_< So it wasn’t my judgment, it was a statement from them. They knew the guy would only date Catholics.

Again, no matter what they told you, it is still none of your business at all. whatever details you think may try to justify what you said to them will only border on gossip. You need to stay out of it. If they really are insincere, they will eventually drop out of it because it is alot of work just to try and date someone. If someone is truely insincere, it will come out in the classes as they take it and it would be the priest responsibility not yours to speak to them about their motives and reasoning not your responsibility.

It’s still none of your business. Even if one party told you flat out that his or her only reason for conversion was the hope of getting another person into bed, it’s still above your pay grade to judge them, Moreover, God works in mysterious and wonderful ways. A person might start out interested in becoming Catholic for every wrong reason out there. Yet, God may use that evil for good and ultimately bring the person to a true heart felt genuine conversion.
A Catholic should never discourage someone from conversion—we must let God work in His ways and pray for the person.

There was a man who joined the RCIA group I was in, towards the end of my time there prior to entry into the Church. He made no bones about it that he was there because he wanted to marry his girlfriend who was/is a devout Catholic.

The following year he was baptised and confirmed and is now so deep in the faith it is hard to imagine he is the same man who came to RCIA saying he was only there so he could go through the motions and marry his g/friend. They have a lovely baby boy and another on the way, and he is part of the reading team for Mass. He positively glows with God’s love.

I guess what I am trying to say is that we don’t know what God has in His plans for any particular person. A wrong word at the time he joined the RCIA class could have sent him away and changed his whole future.

Here in England there is enormous competition for places in Catholic schools. It is widely acknowledged (if grudgingly by those who hate our faith) that Catholic schools in the UK offer the best of educations. It is well known (and reported on in the media) for some parents to join or try to join the Church in order to get their children into a Catholic school. They think they have a better chance as opportunities for non-Catholic children are limited to the number of extra spaces not needed by Catholic children. Once the kids have their school places, the parents are rarely seen at Mass.

In both situations, I guess one has to trust that God knows what He is doing.

How are we to foresee that the children from either the parents who lied to get into Church or those who initially join to marry a Catholic may one day end up Pope or as a Saint!! God plays the long game…His view is eternal.

You’ve done all you should do: you’ve told them not to convert for any other reasons other than being called by God. Just pray that God’s will be done. If that means these people drop out of RCIA because the timing for conversion isn’t right; or if it means they do convert and through the process find out that the Church truly is their home.

RCIA is a huge commitment to just get a date–that’s at least half a year.

What would you do/say if a person said they wanted to convert because their spouse insisted?

I would leave it to the priest and RCIA team to help the person discern the right path.

As an RCIA director I’ve had people in this position. I’ve assured them, first of all, that I will not pressure them in any way. I’ve also told them that the decision is entirely theirs, and they can tell their spouse to back off. They will become Catholic if and when they are ready.

But if I were an outsider in the situation, I’d stay out of it. It’s not my call.

That guy must have been quite a catch if someone would go through the entire RCIA process just in the hopes of getting a date with him. :smiley:

“That guy must have been quite a catch if someone would go through the entire RCIA process just in the hopes of getting a date with him.”

Perhaps, lol.

But just an FYI, they were talking conversion not RCIA specifically. I don’t think they ever really knew how much work went into it. Lol, maybe it wasn’t me that pushed them away, but the fact they discovered what RCIA was on their own? I don’t know, I never really asked.

I really do get both sides here (some saying I did the right thing, some saying I should stay out), but wouldn’t you feel terrible to be the guy lied to? That is why I kind of felt I had to be forward. I love to be the spreader of the good news (I have had one very positive experience helping someone into faith), but if someone could get hurt due to an admitted sham…

sigh I don’t know. There is much that I still have to learn. Thanks for the comments.

PHILTHEO said:

“But just an FYI, they were talking conversion not RCIA specifically. I don’t think they ever really knew how much work went into it.”

I think the person didn’t know what they were talking about.

“I really do get both sides here (some saying I did the right thing, some saying I should stay out), but wouldn’t you feel terrible to be the guy lied to?”

Well, if he doesn’t bother to ask any questions beyond, “Hey, are you Catholic?” that’s on him.

“Well, if he doesn’t bother to ask any questions beyond, “Hey, are you Catholic?” that’s on him.”

True, but if I know better shouldn’t I try and help the poor guy?

As you might guess this was a lot more complex than that. TBH I don’t want to get much more specific than I already have (there is the off chance the guy might look here now and then!). My point is that if the girl kept lying and lying to look like a good learner of the faith he could get hurt. This girl is… quite the convincing liar. Very skilled long term commitment to lies.

For example, she was more than willing (and did so rather convincingly. I was fooled before she told me her intentions) to fake generic faith as a first step. You know, pretending to have realized there must be a God of some kind when she admitted she was just blowing smoke.

But I do feel burdened by this mess. Dating and lying and Faith shouldn’t mix :frowning:

To a degree I recognize she was a mess trying to get what she wanted, but I also saw someone who really needed guidance… Somewhere in that girl was a person of extraordinary dedication at the very least.

PHILTHEO said:

“True, but if I know better shouldn’t I try and help the poor guy?”

If she’s that deceptive and mercenary, there’s no hope of appealing to her better angels. If appealing to her better angels worked (which you did, to a certain degree), maybe she’s not that deceptive or mercenary.

If you have evidence of lying and long-term scheming, maybe that’s the information to share with her mark.

This was a good approach.

You might also, if you ever have the opportunity, to say that one can take RCIA for information, without actually converting.

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