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Catholics/Mixed religion and marriage


I am interesting in knowing the view of marriage with mixed religions. For example, I am Catholic and I will like to marry some day and be in good standing with the church. Lets say that I would like to marry someone who is not catholic. ( say she is Protestant or Buddhist ) what can be done about this situation ?

I was once watching a show about people and their weddings. One episode had a catholic woman and a Buddhist man. They actually were married in an outdoor ceremony where there was a priest and a Buddhist monk. They both performed the ceremony, celebrated ,and lived happily  ever after.

Is this common? In that tv show, is the catholic woman in good standing with church ? Are all dioceses able to do that type of wedding?

It is possible to be a Catholic in good standing and marry someone who is not Catholic.  If you are marrying a "Non-Christian" you would need to apply for a dispensation from "Disparity of Worship/Cult."  As long as you give evidence that the Non-Christian party will not be a detriment to the practice of your Catholic Faith, and as long as you promise to do all in your power to raise any off-spring Catholic, these permissions are readily given.

In applying for a dispensation for "Disparity of Worship/Cult" it is important to note how the Catholic Church defines a "Non-Christian."  A Non-Christian is defined as anyone who is not validly baptized.  This includes the Mormons.  While Mormons do have the practice of Baptism they do not use the proper Sacramental Form in their ceremonies which is why the Catholic Church does not recognize their baptisms as valid, and part of the reason (but not the only reason) they are not considered Christian.

If you seek to marry a Christian you will need to apply for and receive a "Permission for a mixed marriage."  Once again, as long as you give evidence that the marriage will not present any danger to or hinder the practice of your Catholic Faith or belief, and as long as you promise to do all in your power to raise any offspring Catholic, this permission is readily granted.

If you give evidence that you would leave the Faith and convert to the Faith or denomination of your spouse, or you refuse to do all in your power to raise any offspring Catholic, permission would not be granted for such a wedding.  If you were to marry civilly, your marriage while recognized by civil law would not be recognized by the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church defines a "Christian" as one who has validly received the Sacrament of Baptism.  However the parties seeking to marry must give proof of the Baptism either by testimony or by certificate from the Church of Baptism.  

As for the TV show wedding example you cite, that sounds (at least in THIS country) more like a Hollywood fantasy than reality.  While permission CAN be given by the local ordinary (bishop) of a diocese for a wedding to be celebrated in a non-sacred space, or even outside, for whatever reason the bishop's of this country do not readily grant this permission--at least as far as I am aware.  


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Father Dave Bechtel


I am a Catholic priest in good standing and in active ministry in the Diocese of Scranton PA. I can answer most any question about the Catholic Faith, however my area of specialization is Systematic Theology. Systematic Theology is a branch of theology that focuses on the fundamental tenants of the Faith and the Dogmas of the Faith. I have specialization on the Reformation and Catholic vs. Protestant theology/issues and answering Protestant challenges to the Faith.


I was ordained in June of 2008. Since that time the thrust of my ministry has been specialized. In my first assignment I was an assistant pastor. A year later I was sent to work in education. I spent six (6) years in education and have now assumed my first pastorate. While education was the thrust of my ministry, nevertheless I continued to have a hand in parish ministry, hospital chaplaincy and prison chaplaincy. Now that I am out of education I will obviously be focusing more on parish work than specialized ministry. I have two years of formal Clinical Pastoral Education and prior to ordination I successfully pursued Board Certification for health care ministry through the NACC. My certification needs to be renewed and I plan to seek dual certification in health care ministry (NACC and APC) when I renew my certification. I have a breadth of experience working with Protestant ministers and collaborating with them to achieve the goals of hospital pastoral care and chaplaincy. These ministers run the spectrum from the liberal to the conservative.

Bachelors of Science-- University of Scranton PA Masters of Arts Theology--- Saint Mary's Seminary and University Baltimore MD Masters of Divinity--- Saint Charles Borremeo Seminary Philadelphia PA Board Certified Chaplain (up for renewal)

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