Post # 1
Very hurt and confused.
For 4.5 years of dating, my fiance has known that I’m atheist, raised Catholic. He was raised Catholic as well. In 4 years, he has not attended church once. His mother wants us to marry in church and he now agrees.
I initially explained to him that I wasn’t interested in attending church with him, but that I would be happy to show up for formalities and marriage preparation classes. But I’m discovering that I would have to attend church and lie about my atheism in order to get married in a church. One priest would not accept that I had no intentions of practicing my faith again (i.e. politely repeated the same question until I changed my answer on a form he had us fill out). A second priest, who was exceedingly kind in person, asked my fiance about 3 times during a subsequent phone conversation whether I was Catholic (fiance lied and said I was) before providing info about marriage preparation classes.
The thought of lying about these beliefs and devoting so much time to church is more upsetting than I thought it would be. But fiance is still pursuing this. Case in point: he did not even deign to ask the second priest if my non-belief was ok.
I feel totally unsupported. I feel my fiance is a different person now. I feel he is willing to disrespect me in an effort to please his mother (Kind of clear he would rather live with her, as he’s still with parents while I live on my own.) I’m afraid the rest of the marriage will be this. I’m livid with him and his family.
Non-religious brides: Should I just lie to the priest? Should I just attend? (Even if I should, I don’t know if I’m capable of it.) What would lie ahead ahead after this wedding? I’m so resentful and sad.
Post # 2
OK, so… first things first.
My DH is Catholic. I am a Methodist. It is important for Catholics to marry according to “canonical form”, otherwise the Catholic church does not recognise the marriage as valid. So I can understand why your DH wants to marry in the church. It also makes it easier for your kids to attend Catholic schools in the future, and where we are then these are some of the best schools if you can’t afford to go private.
Now… a Catholic is allowed to marry a non-Christian. It is called a “natural marriage” and requires a dispensation. This is a different dispensation from the one which is required for a Catholic to marry a non-Catholic baptised Christian. The problem here seems to be that your DH is trying to arrange a Catholic-Catholic marriage, which you are understandably uncomfortable with. So how about this: you find a new church, and say that you are a Catholic-atheist couple who wish to get married there.
DO NOT tell the new priest that you were baptised/raised Catholic… it will only muddy the waters and they will try to get you to “return to the flock” as it were… which seems to be what is making you uncomfortable in the first place.
Canon law does indeed allow your Catholic FI to marry an atheist. He will just have to fill in a few more forms and sign a declaration about doing everything in his power to raise your kids Catholic and not to leave the faith. You will not have to make any such promises.
DH and I had similar arguments over our wedding ceremony. Don’t worry too much… it does get better!
Post # 3
Catholic ceremonies are VERY religious, including, in all the ones I’ve been to, promising not to use birth control, and iirc other promises regarding faith. If you are this upset already, I can’t see how going forward with a catholic ceremony could work for you, unless you somehow found a priest willing to work with you as a out nonbeliever. I understand why you feel disrespected, I would too, in your shoes, from the sound of it. Good luck.
Post # 4
Oh, and PS… for a mixed marriage or a natural marriage taking place in a Catholic church, you are allowed to have a co-officiant. So if you were a Jew marrying a Catholic, for example, you could be married by both a Rabbi and a Priest in the same ceremony, provided it happened in a Catholic church and certain Catholic rules were followed. Now, I don’t know if they count atheism as a religion for the purpose of co-officiating, and it might be different for each church, but it can’t hurt to ask.
It will also be very interesting to see what they do with the ceremony. As a non-Catholic, you are not bound by Catholic lore (eg the use of birth control, raising your children Catholic), but as an atheist, they cannot expect you to swear anything before G-d either. There is probably a set ceremony which they can use in this case.
PS I had a Catholic ceremony, and I never made any promises regarding birth control. I don’t make promises I can’t/don’t intend to keep, LOL!
Post # 5
Ack! PPS… if you were baptised Catholic, the church still counts you as a Catholic because it doesn’t recognise apostacy. You are a “lapsed Catholic” in their eyes, NOT an atheist. If you think this may cause you problems in the future, you can officially renounce your Catholic faith by writing a letter of renunciation to your local bishop. They will then “take you off the books”. DH has a friend who has done this.
You must think carefully about whether it would be more politic to do this before or after the wedding, though…
EDIT: Having looked at these links, it would seem that your baptism is going to present a problem, because you are counted as Catholic by the church still. So I think you need to consider whether it would be better for you to just keep quiet about being baptised, or to renounce your faith and THEN get married.
Hmmm… part of me also wonders whether failure to disclose baptism would actually invalidate the marriage according to canon law. You should ask on the Catholic forum and see what they say…
Post # 6
I am also an atheist and would never want to marry in a church because of that. I would feel like a hypocrite, especially since catholic services (I live in a Catholic country) requires you to state that “you will raise your children in the catholic faith” and so on. I would never do that so wouldn’t want to state such a sentence in front of everyone. I don’t know whether you have to say these sentences in you ceremony but by the sounds of it, the priest thinks it is important that you do as you choose…
Me personally, if FI asked for us to marry in a church, I would rather not marry at all. I would want him to marry me for who I am. This may sound easy for me, because FI is an atheist as well, but by the sounds of it, your FI is as well and is just doing this to please his family? Let him please his family another time, this should be about you two and about what you two want in life.
Post # 7
openears: I was kind of in the same situation with FI. His family is serious Catholic. I was raised Catholic but haven’t identified as such in years- I consider myself deist. FI hasn’t been to church in years, either. We first planned to have our ceremony in a church, but after discovering all of the crap we would have to go through for a religion we aren’t sure we belong in, we decided to can that idea.
Do what you and your FI want. Family will get over it.
Plus, you can always be married within the church down the road if you decide that is the right decision for you at the time. Many Catholic people who have beach weddings do this.
Post # 8
I’m an athiest marrying a Catholic, although he attends church regularly so I at least knew it was important to him from the beginning! I was also baptised Catholic as a baby (that was literally the extent of my religious upbringing), so even though I don’t believe in any of it, we are having a church ceremony. Basically, if you are baptised they consider you Catholic and you have 2 options- a ceremony with mass or a ceremony outside of mass. They are almost exactly the same except if you aren’t doing mass there is no communion. That’s what we’re doing. If you are NOT baptised there is an option for that as well. It’ll still have lots of bible readings and be very church-y though.
Is it frustrating as an athiest to get married in this way? Yes. Is it more important to me to honor my FI’s beliefs? Absolutely. As a PP said, Catholics believe that only marriages in the church are recognized as valid. At the end of the day we will still be married, and I know in our everyday life FI respects that I don’t want to go to church every week, etc. We’ve also discussed the whole ‘raising any children Catholic’ rule, and we agreed he can take responsibility for that and the kids can decide when they’re older if they believe it or not.
Especially since your FI is not a regular church-goer, you might have luck just talking to him about your hesitations and what the church will actually mean in your day to day life after the wedding.
Post # 9
openears: the fact that you feel unsupported in your position as well as the fact that your FI is picking what his mother wants over what you want is what I find the most unsettling. As an agnostic also raised Catholic who married a Lutheran, our families had ZERO say in the marriage ceremony, which was more secular.
As far as lying to the priest, going to classes, etc… what do YOU want to do? You’re obviously uncomfortable and if you get married Catholic and “lie” then I guarantee you will be raising future children in the Church as well if his family has the sway you say they do over your FI.
I think you need to sit down and talk very frankly with your FI about this. If you are uncomfortable with this it is not indicative of you not supporting his beliefs. but it is asking for him to compromise with you and find a different way to integrate his Catholic beliefs with what you are comfortable with. You respect his beliefs, and he needs to respect where you are coming from as well.
Post # 10
- Wedding: May 2013 - Pavilion overlooking golf course scenery, reception at banquet hall
Don’t lie, stand your ground. Your wedding should be one of the truest moment between your SO and yourself. Don’t waste it by pretending and lying in order to appease your MIL. Don’t even concern yourself with her feelings, keep discussing it with your SO only. If he didn’t budge I would personally postpone the wedding until you two can come to an understanding.
As an aside, I think it’s incredibly disrespectful to get married in a church you don’t believe with, so it’s not fair to them either (and I hate the Catholic church!)
Post # 11
I’m sorry your FI has done a 180 and is now seeming to care more about his mothers feeligns than your own. This would be a huge issue for me, aside from the religious issues. I was raised evangelical christian as was DH, though neither of us are religious at all now. We had all kinds of issues with his mom wanting him to get married like a good christian boy in the church, with a pastor, a prayer, and putting god first in our marriage. It was rough to stand our ground when she was saying thing like “it’s not a real marriage if it’s not done before god” and “if your not married in a church with a pastor who will you go to when you have problems”… DH has not told his mother his beliefs no longer coincide with hers so she just assumes, whereas my family has known for years & has finally decided they aren’t changing my mind & know that i’m gonna do what i’m gonna do no matter what.
I’d talk with your FI about this. Is the religious ceremony crucially important to him/his faith? How does he reconcile that with you having to so obviously lie about your own beliefs in front of the entire family? Parents beliefs do not matter one bit in the marriage ceremony- this is about you & your FI and setting you two up for the rest of your lives- doe he really want that to start off with you having no choice but to lie about crucial beliefs? I would not speak to his mom about it & I’d ask him to leave her out of it as well. I’m not christian anymore, but I respect their beliefs enough to not ever lie and pretend to be one of them just to appease someone else. I would not tarnish my conscience and have such lies hanging over me on what should be the happiest, most important and honest day of my life….
Post # 12
I would never start off marriage with a lie. What does that say about the rest of your vows, that you’ll say what you need to now, but drop them later?
Honestly, I think it’s time for a serious discussion with your fiance. If he was OK with a non church wedding before, but is giving into pressure from his mom, what does that imply for the future? If you plan on kids, do you plan on bringing them to church? What if his family doesn’t approve of the plan? What about birth control? The church does take that seriously, and he might too. This is NOT a discussion that you want to avoid until after the wedding
Post # 13
- Wedding: January 2013 - Harbourfront Grand Hall
openears: I would never, EVER compromise my lack of faith! Especially like that! Sit your FI down and ask him what is more important – you two’s relationship or him getting married in a church? Especially given he hasn’t gone to church in 4 years!
Post # 14
- Wedding: September 2014 - Turf Valley
I’m in the same situation, except my FI does not care to have us married in a church or by anyone with any religious affiliation. Thank goodness. I could also not lie and pretend. It is just….ridiculous to me. I could not do it, as I’m sure you also cannot do it. Your FI should understand! This isn’t news to him. It could simply be that he is trying to please his mother and just doesn’t understand how much it’s bothering you. Does he know what extent of fibbing/effort you’d have to put in to make this even work?
Post # 15
We went through this. I am agnostic. FI was raised Catholic. I was never baptised. FMIL wanted us married in a church.
We learned I would have to lie about my beliefs and my intentions to go through with a church wedding. I never dreamt of a church wedding.
It was a bit of a fight, mostly with FMIL, but we decided to not do the church thing. FI hasn’t gone to church in years, FMIL doesn’t even go to church. I felt disrespected that I was being asked to lie as a basis for our marriage. I think the difference is that FI would not have to lie to get married outside a church, whereas I would lie in order to be in the church. In the end, we both agreed it made more sense to be married where WE wanted.
FMIL still wanted a minister. We found an ordained 🙂