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Faith/Spirituality Forum: Marrying a jewish girlfriend

by Catherine Frakas 09 Sep 2001

Marrying a jewish girlfriend QUESTION from A. Basto on July 4, 2002 Dear Bro. Ignatius,
Is it possible for a catholic man, baptized, confirmed and holding full communion with Our Holy Mother the Church, to marry a jewish woman?
If the answer is affirmative, what are the requirements and formalities imposed by Canon law for such a marriage to be valid before God and His Church?
What would the status of such a marriage be, when compared to other marriage convenants recognized in canon Law? Would such a marriage be Sacramental?
What about the promise that the Bride and Groom make in normal catholic weddings, of raising the child in Our Faith, would such a pledge be required also of the jewish Bride?
What about the celebration in itself: would it follow the catholic ritual, presided by the Priest or would it be an ecumenical celebration presided by representatives of both Faiths? If the cerimony is only catholic, is the catholic Groom prohibited by Church's law to undergo a second, jewish cerimony of marriage, to please the Bride's grandparents?
In a situation where the Bride's family is jewish, but not orthodox jewish, would it be adviseble for the Groom to insist on the baptism of the Bride, even if he knows in his heart that the Bride is not trully catholic and that she would accept to be baptized only to please him and out of love for him, and not because she has faith in Our holy religion?
Thank you.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on July 15, 2002 Dear Mr. Basto:
It is not wise to marry outside the faith, but the church may allow it with a dispensation from the Bishop. Because your girlfriend is not a Christian marriage to her is NOT valid unless you have the dispensation from the Bishop.
You need to contact your diocese to see what procedures they have to considering and giving such a dispensation.
IF the dispensation is given then according to Canon 1127 the marriage must be performed in the usual manner normally in a Catholic Church before a Catholic priest or deacon. The Bishop can give permission for another suitable place.
Normally the wedding will not be celebrated during the Eucharist to avoid confusion, awkwardness, and misunderstanding unless the bishop gives permission.
A Jewish Rabbi may be present and actively participate. He may be invited to give additional prayers, blessings, or words of greeting or exhortation. If the marraige is not part of the eucharistic celebration, the minister may also be invited to read a lesson and/or to preach. But only the Catholic priest or deason may validly ask for and recieve the marital consent of the parties in the name of the Church.
Canon Law (Canon 1127.3), however, prohibits duplicate religious marriage ceremonies. Thus you cannot have a Catholic wedding and a Jewish wedding too.
There are many details of canon law that deal with this. Be sure to contact your Diocese for details and to double-check what I am telling you.
As to conditions required by Canon 1125 if you are given permission to marry this Jewish girl, you must promise to not allow anything to influence you to defect from the faith, you must promise to raise the kids Catholic, both of you must attend pre-cana counseling, etc. Your Jewish intended obviously must agree to cooperate in this.
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