Can You Have a Catholic Wedding If One Person Isn’t Catholic?


couple at the altar in catholic church

Due to individualism, interfaith marriages have become common, and most religious groups do not restrict their members from marrying people from other faiths. Marriage in the catholic church is essential, and the church has set many rules to protect its value. For one to have a catholic wedding, they should be ready to fulfill the church’s conditions. 

So can you have a catholic wedding if one person is not a catholic? You can have a catholic wedding when only one person in the couple is of the catholic faith. The Catholic spouse has to fulfill certain conditions before they can marry their non-Catholic spouse in the church. The catholic church has relaxed its rules on marriage that interfaith marriages are no longer restricted.

The catholic church has come a long way regarding interfaith marriage. A Catholic can marry from any faith now. Read on to find out more about having interfaith catholic weddings and the conditions spouses have to fulfill before having an interfaith catholic wedding.

A Catholic Wedding Where One Person Isn’t Catholic

The catholic church holds marriage in high regard, as it is one of the catholic church’s sacraments. Before a marriage is valid before the catholic church, you need to fulfill four elements. One of them is that the spouses are free to marry, second is the spouses freely consent to the marriage, third is the spouses promise to have children baptized, and the fourth is that an ordained minister witnesses the consent to marry.

The spouses must be baptized in the church before the bishop or deacon can marry them. Before a Catholic receives the Sacrament of Baptism, they learn about Christianity and the catholic church. When a catholic wants to marry a non-Catholic, this is where challenges begin to emerge. The non-Catholic spouse does not have any knowledge about the catholic faith. The catholic church directly encourages interfaith marriages, but it will offer its support if a catholic person requests to have one.

There are two kinds of interfaith marriage: a catholic spouse marries a baptized non-Catholic Christian. The second one is where a catholic marries a non-Catholic that is not a Christian, for example, a Muslim or a Jew. The catholic spouse shall seek advice from their bishop or priest on how they can have a catholic wedding. The bishop will advise whether they need official permission or a dispensation from the church.

When the spouse is a baptized non-Catholic Christian, the catholic spouse shall seek official permission from the bishop to have a catholic wedding. The marriage is valid after the couple obtains express permission from the bishop to go ahead with the wedding. The teachings of non-Catholic Christians must have some similarities to those of the catholic church. Hence, it is easier for a catholic spouse to get permission from their bishop to marry their baptized non-Catholic Christian in the catholic church.

When the spouse is a non-Christian, the rules become more stringent. The Catholic spouse has to get a dispensation from the bishop before going on with the wedding. A dispensation is a way of releasing the church from legal obligations to marry baptized individuals. For unbaptized Christians, the catholic spouse also has to get a dispensation. The bishop will direct the spouse seeking dispensation during the process.

An interfaith catholic wedding is most likely to take place outside of mass. If the wedding happens inside of Mass, the non-Catholic person will not receive communion. The bishop or deacon will be the wedding officiant. The bishop may allow the non-Catholic spouse to invite their religious clergy to the wedding. The invited religious clergy may be permitted to read the scripture but cannot officiate the wedding.

Conditions for One to Have a Catholic Interfaith Wedding

The church sets the conditions for one to marry their non-Catholic spouse in a catholic church, and sometimes the bishop can add some requirements before they accept to officiate the interfaith wedding. These conditions serve to ensure that the marriage is valid before the catholic church. These conditions are;

One of the conditions is the catholic spouse makes the promise to raise the future children in the catholic church. One of the challenges that face interfaith couples is the religion in which they will raise their children. Previously, the catholic spouse was under obligation to ensure that the parents will raise the children in the catholic church. The church relaxed the rule, and now the spouse has to promise the bishop that they will try their best to ensure that the children are baptized and raised catholic.

Another condition is that the catholic spouse has to inform the non-Catholic spouse of all the church’s promises before getting married. As the couple obtains permission or dispensation, the catholic spouse will make several promises to the bishop before he can officiate their marriage. The non-Catholic spouse should understand such promises to avoid having problems fulfilling them in the future.

One of the conditions that bishops set is prohibiting co-officiating. The non-Catholic spouse may want their religious clergy to officiate at their wedding. However, a bishop or deacon will expressly request that they will be the only officiant at the wedding. Some bishops will invite non-Catholic religious clergy to the wedding and allow them to read the scripture but will not co-officiate with them.

The catholic church does not require the non-Catholic spouse to convert before the couple can have a wedding. The spouses can marry and continue to follow their own religious beliefs. The bishop or deacon will advise the catholic spouse to promise not to try and convert the non-Catholic spouse. If they want to convert, it has to be their own decision. Trying to convert the non-Catholic spouse is considered rude and a lack of respect for the spouse’s religious beliefs.

The catholic spouse might want to have their wedding inside of Mass. However, the bishop might inform them that for him to officiate the wedding, it shall happen outside of mass. This turn of events occurs mostly when the other spouse is a non-baptized Christian or a non-Christian. If the bishop allows the wedding to happen inside of Mass, the non-Catholic spouse will not receive the communion.

One of the most critical conditions set by the catholic church is that the catholic spouse must remain catholic throughout the marriage. One of the key elements of having a valid catholic marriage is the spouse’s faith, or one of the spouses should be catholic. If the catholic spouse decides to convert to another religion after having a catholic wedding, the marriage shall be deemed invalid before the catholic church. The Catholic spouse has to convince the bishop that they will continue being catholic for the rest of the marriage.

Final Word

The catholic church desires to protect the souls of the Catholic faithful. Setting conditions for a catholic to marry a non-Catholic is a way of preserving the soul of the Catholic spouse. These conditions help maintain and grow the catholic faith among its members. The catholic church supports interfaith marriage as long as the catholic spouse promises to fulfill their promises to the church.

The bishop does not only give conditions; they also provide the couple with crucial advice on how to keep an interfaith marriage healthy. Communication is vital in the success of an interfaith marriage; the couple should talk about how they will educate and raise the children. Incorporating teachings from both religions can help raise respectful and obedient children.

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