Faith/Spirituality Forum: Resources for mixed marriages
Resources for mixed marriages QUESTION from Amanda Burgandy August 12, 2001 I've been researching this afternoon for resources geared towards SUPPORTING Christians -- Catholics specifically -- who are dating or married to non-Christians. My boyfriend of nearly two years is not a practicing Christian (although he was baptized as a child into the Methodist faith), and he has no desire to begin practicing Catholicism or Christianity in general. Of course, this issue has caused no small measure of heartache for us; we even broke up for a time over it because it simply made me sad enduring weeks of attending Mass alone or with my dear boyfriend sitting beside me, completely inattentive.
On the other hand, as we've been together, he's learned a lot from me about the Church and has warmed up to Christianity quite a bit. That is, he doesn't have quite as acidic a view about Christianity as he had in the past. (Still no indications that he might convert.) Also, I've learned a lot from him about the misconceptions that some people have about Christians. In many ways, our relationship is excellent: we can communicate fluidly, we enjoy spending time together, we have some of the same ideas about raising children. And, in reference to the topic of raising children, he wouldn't be opposed to my raising our children Catholic.
I love him a lot, and we're considering the idea of getting married. I want to prepare myself, though, with the testimonies of Catholics who are married to non-Catholics, particularly non-CHRISTIANS. I want to hear from a firsthand source what some of the difficulties are and how people cope with them. I want to know if there are any organizations which provide support for these types of relationships. All I've found so far in the Internet today is gobs of articles that strongly discourage people from dating or marrying non-Christians. What I need now is support.
Do you have any ideas where I can go for such information?
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on August 15, 2001 Dear Miss Burgandy:
I do not know of any such resource. Maybe some of our readers have heard of something.
But you have a good idea. We might be willing to start a support group of this nature. My only hesitation is that from my experience people with mixed marriages tend to lose their loyalty to the Church when it comes to this subject.
Such a support group must be absolutely founded upon Church's teaching and discipline as it pertains to marriages. The Church discourages mixed marriages for obvious reasons, but will allow it on a case-by-case basis. The Bishop MUST approve a mixed marriage, and the Bishop must give a dispensation for a marriage to a non-Christian.
God's intention is that we NOT marry outside of the faith. The purpose and design of marriage is such that having one spouse not a Catholic, and especially not a Christian, places a serious strain on the marriage and causes the marriage not to function as God intended.
What I have just said MUST be understood and the foundation of any support group. But with that said, we can support those who find themselves in mixed relationships.
We would have a GREAT interest in starting such a group.
Now we need someone to be moderator of the group and some people to initially commit to the group, including people who have experience so that they can advise those without experience.
If anyone is interested in this project,. contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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