What does the Church say about mixed-faith marriage?

Full Question

I am a Methodist currently dating a girl who is Catholic. How does the Church feel about Catholics marrying non-Catholics, and what would we have to do? (Also, I am not very attached to the Methodist faith.)


Mixed marriages are discouraged because they inevitably involve pain for the spouses (the only time they don’t is if neither spouse cares about his or her religion), and they set a bad example for the children because the parents are not united in the most important area of life–one’s relationship to God. This can lead to confusion, weak faith, and even lost faith on the part of the children. Although mixed marriages are not recommended, the Church grants dispensations for Catholics to marry non-Catholics. To see about obtaining one you should see a parish priest. If you are thinking seriously about marriage, I would urge you to investigate the Catholic faith and consider becoming a Catholic. It is far better on a human level if the spouses are religiously united. It is better both for children they have and for them, not only in that it prevents conflict but also in that it allows them to share true spiritual intimacy, which they otherwise are blocked from having. This is something I can testify to from personal experience. When I was a Protestant I was in a mixed marriage with a Catholic and, although it was a very good marriage, there was a lot of pain caused by our religious differences. After my wife died, I resolved that I never again would enter a mixed marriage. It’s simply too hard on the spouses.

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  1. thank you very much for this clear and concise explanation. ‘God created us free’ . Based on this assumption, ALL OF US have married non Roman Catholics: through the mercy of God all of us enjoy happy marriages (my husband and I have just celebrated with all our family our Gold Wedding Anniversary) but what you say is absolutely true. It is five of us; three of our spouses have become Roman Catholis now and we are all the better for it. – Of your charity, please pray for us that the two remaining ones become Roman Catholic too, because as we all very well know, for God nothing is impossible, and THAT spiritual unity you so eloquently speak about, accounts for a lot of the total unity that should exist in a marriage.. – Many thanks.

  2. I have always believed in marriage, in the words that God created man and then created a woman for the two to be together. It is, I must say, wonderful to read about marriages, to see people are having good marriages and to see different concepts such as mixed-faith being discussed. It is my wish that more young people can have hope and faith in God about marriage and to believe that it is God’s institution.

  3. I am a Lutheran Church Missour Synod pastor, and I always tell couples thinking of marriage that they really need to pick one church or the other. While I truly believe in what we teach (else I wouldn’t be here!), I do know it is better for a family to be worshipping together than separately. So, yes, I want them to pick my church! But, I’d rather they pick the other church (assuming it’s Christian) than worship apart. The impact on children is mind-blowing.

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Written by Raphael Benedict

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