Can a Catholic Marry a Buddhist?


Buddhist temple with large gold Buddha statue in the center

Christianity (especially Catholicism) and Buddhism have different rituals and beliefs and command a large following from all over the world. Since every religion is different from the other, the main concern is whether a Catholic can marry a Buddhist. Is it ok? What happens in their future as a married couple? We aim to provide answers to these burning questions.

Can a Catholic marry a Buddhist? Both religions allow inter-religion marriages; hence, a Catholic and a Buddhist can marry and incorporate both faiths in their wedding and married life. Buddhists are more liberal and open-minded in intermarriages, while the Catholic Church requires that all its members marry in the church with the priest present for their marriage to be valid.

We investigated both religions’ past and current standing in matters of intermarriages to find out whether it’s ok for a Catholic to marry a Buddhist. Do they have to marry in the church as Catholic cannons dictate, or can they marry at the Monk’s temple? Read on to find out whether there is a common ground when a Catholic marries a Buddhist.

Catholic Weddings and Marriages

Generally, all Christians believe that marriage is God’s gift to man and is a sacred link between a man and a woman. For this, most Christians marry in the church, God’s dwelling place. The Catholics particularly view marriage as a sacramental union that has to take place in the church/ chapel under the parish priest’s guidance.

Over the centuries, the church has been associated with strict rules and rituals mandatory to all its believers. In the past, for instance, the church forbade inter-religion marriages, but slowly, these rules have eased to allow its members to marry Non-Catholics and Non-Christians.

For a believer to marry from outside the church, the other partner had to convert, which caused a lot of disputes between the church and the other religions.

However, the Catholics to date still follow specific guidelines when it comes to their weddings and marriages. For example, one unchanging rule is that all weddings must take place in the church, with the blessing of the priest or bishop; otherwise, the marriage would not be valid according to God and the church.

Secondly, the vows are sacred to the believers since they are a verbal declaration that the married couple has decided to join in holy matrimony of their own volition. Similarly, the vows indicate that the two intend to be faithful to each other for as long as they live. Their union is deemed as a lifetime covenant; hence the church is always against divorce.

Buddhist Weddings and Marriages

Buddhism has its roots in ancient Chinese traditions and rituals. Unlike Christians, the Buddhists consider marriage a personal decision, not a religious responsibility (marrying or remaining celibate is entirely up to you). They also do not dictate childbearing or upbringing; hence Buddhism is seen as one of the most liberal religions in the world.

A Buddhist couple can marry in the temple, a functional hall, or one partner’s home. They also obtain blessings from the monks/ nuns who also officiate the wedding, and marriage has no ties to religion. There are no sacramental aspects to it; it is merely a personal choice.

A typical Buddhist wedding follows certain rituals, from the beginning to the end. We take a look at some of the most common features of a Buddhist wedding.

  • The ceremony begins with meditation and reading of passages written by important figures in the religion.
  • There is the English/ Pali recitation of the Tisarana and Vandana by all in attendance.
  • They decorate the shrine with flowers, candles, and incense sticks, which serve as offerings to the Lord Buddha.
  • The couple recites their personal or written vows; these vows are their declaration of love and commitment.
  • Monks or nuns bless the couple while chanting in Pali.
  • The officiating monk/ nun performs rituals to join the couple (these rituals may vary according to the country or region).

Differences Between a Catholic and a Buddhist Wedding

The two religions have different beliefs and customs in matters of weddings and marriages. Let’s take a look at some of the most glaring differences. 

CatholicismBuddhism
Consider their marriage sacramental and fulfillment of religious duties.Marriage is a personal decision, and there are no religious obligations for one to fulfill.
A valid wedding has to take place in the church, God’s holy dwelling place.The wedding can take place wherever the couple decides, in or outside the temple.
There is the reading of the bible scriptures during the ceremony.The readings are from the sacred texts written by revered figures in Buddhism.
The wedding is officiated by the priests or bishop of the parish.The ceremony is officiated by a monk/ nun or any other member elected by the couple.

For intermarriage, the couple has to consider both religions’ various aspects to help decide how to incorporate both of them in their wedding and marriage.

Can a Catholic Marry a Buddhist?

Both religions teach equality, love, and unity between all humans. As much as Catholics are more stringent with their rituals, they still allow their believers to marry from other religious affiliations. Buddhists also do not interfere with marriage, given that it is a personal decision and not a religious obligation.

The Catholic Church has refrained from forcing either of the partners to convert for them to marry; however, they insist on marriage under the guidance of the church. If one of them is a Catholic, they both need to come forward and consult with the parish priest concerning the wedding and the marriage.

The soon to be newly-weds may also need to attend marriage classes for some time preceding their wedding and discuss whether they will have children and how they plan to raise them. Catholics prefer raising the children under the principles of Catholicism.

On the other hand, the Buddhists believe in fairness, equity, love, and service to all humankind; therefore, there are no particular rules when it comes to marriage. They allow their believers to chart their path and make their own decisions.

Most couples today choose to incorporate the different aspects of their religion regarding weddings and marriage. They can have a Catholic wedding first then have a monk bless their union afterward. Similarly, they can raise their future children with teachings from both religions since the two beliefs do not contradict.

Final Take

The essence of religion is to bring people together from all walks of life to serve a common purpose for a more significant course; this is what Christianity and Buddhism entail. The couple has to come together, know their differences, and establish a common ground to lead a happy, fulfilling married life.

A Catholic can marry from any other religion as long as he/ she observes the teachings of the church and follows the cannons and guiding principles. First, the wedding has to occur in the church, and the priest must be present to join the two. The priest also has to give consent and blessing before the two can go ahead with their wedding. Without following these rules, the marriage may be invalid according to the church or God’s laws.

A couple can find common ground and merge the two religions in their marriage and wedding; this way, neither feels left out or think that the other is imposing their religion. As long as they get blessings from both religions, they can go ahead and marry.

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