Post # 1
Fiance and I are working on getting married in the Catholic church. I have been a practicing catholic my entire life, Fiance was baptized catholic and then raised UCC and now attends mass with me regularly. He is considering RICA but isn’t sure yet.
We have no intention of having children. If we were to have an oops baby we would accept that was meant to be and use the gestation to get ready for the idea. But we are hoping that does not happen.
2 other catholic couples we know said they just lied on the do you want children questions. I was a bit horrified by this and told Fiance that I intend to answer the question honestly if it comes up (it hasn’t yet). They seemed to think that the church would not marry us unless we say we want children? I know you are supposed to be “open to children” and I think we are in the sense that if it happens we would never consider abortion and if one of our godchildren (or another child) needed us we would welcome them into our home.
We are older than most on this board (38 when we get married), and we both have large families and enjoy children, but have never had a need or strong desire to be a parent. It would be a big strain for us fiancially, and mentally. I have a history of severe depression and take medication for this. As I understand it you can be pregnant and take the meds, but it is not cleared for use in pregnant women. This worries me, as does passing my issues onto a child.
I will not lie if the question is asked and will let the chips fall where they may, but there are some pretty knowledgable catholic bees and I just wondered if there is a place in the catholic church for being married and without children?
Post # 3
I think you’re right, that they at least press you to be “open” to having children, especially because the Catholic church does not support contraception. We are finally done with all of our preparations to get married in the church, but there were some situations that it definitely would have been easier to just lie about. Like, for example, we had to hear multiple times about how we live together and how we have had sex before marriage. For me, I hated having to be forced to answer questions about my sex life – that is something very personal and I didn’t appreciate being questioned about it and judged in the process. But it is all over with now, we just learned to smile and nod if they started going off on topics like that.
Post # 4
I’m pretty sure you’ll be asked explicitly (and maybe even have to sign something – we did) saying that you are “open to children”. If you take not wanting children, but being willing to have them to mean you are “open” then I think you can get through the requirements without guilt or having to lie, but if you don’t…there are probably some tough choices to make.
The way the priests in our diocese put it is there are 3 things necessary for it to be a valid marriage:
– you are both willing
– you both intend to be faithful
– you are both open to children
and if any one of these is lacking, the thing isn’t valid. That’s what anullments are based off of.
Post # 5
Yeah, I think lying about (or not fully understanding) your vows, going into your marriage would definitely be a green light for an anullment down the road, should one be sought.
I think being “open to children” might have different meaning to some than others. My understanding is that the Church refers to “open to children” meaning you want to have children, at least at some point. That you won’t actively prevent having any children. And as another poster said, the Church is against contraception. (But maybe your plan was to just use NFP.) I think saying that you’re open to children because you wouldn’t have an abortion if you happened to get pregnant doesn’t exactly cut it. (But maybe I’ve misinterpreted.)
Now, the church also allows couples to discern about their circumstances regarding the number of children they have (using NFP of course). And it sounds like you have some very valid concerns. I would strongly suggest talking to your priest about it. What if you were to adopt? That’s still being open to children. And I would think that your priest would bring this up with you before th wedding, but even if he doesn’t you will definitely be asked this question during your wedding vows. So it’s best to get this ironed out.
Good luck. I hope it all works out well.
Post # 6
Yes there is a place for you in the Catholic church. All they ask is that you are open to children should you get pregnant. They would prefer you aren’t on birth control too, but that’s another issue. I think you should be perfectly fine getting married in the church wiht your veiwpoints and I don’t think you should lie if they ask you about children.
Post # 7
In my opinion, what you described IS being “open to children”: if you happened to get pregnant you would lovingly raise the child. I don’t think you have to be necessarly intend on trying to get pregnant as part of your promise to be open to children, just as long as you don’t consider an abortion.
It brings up the question of contraception though… that’s where you may get into sticky issues, unless you intended on using NFP (as Tanya123 said). You may want to consider talking to a different priest or Catholic Apologist to see what the ‘official’ stance is on your situation. But no, please don’t lie!!
Post # 8
Open to children means if you were to get pregnant, then you’d love and care for the child–not abort. Like others said, the Church believes that anything other than NFP is gravely immoral. NFP can be used to avoid pregnancy for the reasons specified in your post–health and financial.
Post # 9
I think it may end up depending on the individual priest you are speaking to. My parents are very strict Catholics, but they chose to use birth control since they wanted to wait several years before having children. They discussed it with their priest and he was basically supportive- and this was in 1968.
Post # 10
Just for the record, we have no intentions of lying at all.
That is part of why I was shocked it was mentioned. Both of the other couples (who said to lie) never had children and are still happily married after 20+ years, so no one is looking for grounds for annulment.
Clearly “open to children” has different meaning to some than others. Personally, I never took it to mean that Catholics are REQUIRED to have kids. It sounds like some people here believe it does and others do not.
To me if “the church also allows couples to discern about their circumstances regarding the number of children they have” then that would mean zero is a valid number. As far as adoption, that would not change the fact that we do not want to be parents and that it would be very hard on us fiancially and mentally. I also can hardly see an adoption agency wanting to adopt a child out to a couple in their 40’s who don’t really want kids. If Fiance really wanted kids, I’d consider, but as neither of us do, I don’t think it’s a good idea.
We will discuss it with the Deacon (he does this stuff at our church) and go from there.
What happens for people who get married too old to have children?
Post # 11
We went on our engaged couples retreat this weekend and our small group leaders were married with no children. They got married later in life (I believe both were in their early 40s) and said that on their retreat 10 years prior they decided together that children weren’t for them. As many PP have stated, NFP is the only accepted form of family planning according to the Catholic Church and they used this to prevent pregnancy. Based on their story, I would say that you are within your right to say that you are open to children if somehow you got pregnant that you would be willing to raise the child.
Post # 12
“Open to Children” means that should you get pregnant you would accept them and lovingly raise them. The Church does not say you must want to have children or that you must intend to get pregnant. Forcing children on couples who don’t want them would be cruel to both parents and child. At the same time, expecting all couples to have children is unrealistic, expecially since infertilityand health risks is an issue among many couples and the Church does recognize that. At our marriage encounter, they spoke about natural family planning as a way to take charge of your fertility. If they only cared about you having children, natural contraception would not even be a discussion.
You’re right, you shouldn’t lie to your priest when asked if are “Open to children.” Tell him that you don’t intend to conceive, but do say (as you indicated here) that should you get pregnant, you do intend to raise them and love them, and I think that’s what the Church is mostly concerned about. The Church won’t and shouldn’t hold it against you.
Post # 13
Do not lie to the priest. This question does deal with whether the couple is truly giving matrimonial consent or not. The priest doesn’t marry you, he witnesses the marriage on behalf of the Church and the State. If you lie, you’re lying to an official witness potentially about your intent to marry.
Talk to the priest specifically about your reservations about having children, but you’re openness to accepting them if they come. He might ask probbing questions, but this involves seeing if you are truly seeking to marry or not.
I would also suggest picking up the book Holy Sex – A Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving. It really clarifies the Church’s teaching on sexuality and marital love. My new husband and I have been reading it, and its really insightful. It really reveals that sexuality is more than just what you do with those special body parts. The majority of the book is relationship advise which is 10 times better than anything I got from the marriage prep courses. While it is an Orthodox Catholic book, its not overly heavy on the no contraceptives stuff. It really gives a complete vision.
Post # 14
Here’s what the Catechism says:
The openness to fertility
1652 “By its very nature the institution of marriage and married love is ordered to the procreation and education of the offspring and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory.”160
Children are the supreme gift of marriage and contribute greatly to the good of the parents themselves. God himself said: “It is not good that man should be alone,” and “from the beginning [he] made them male and female”; wishing to associate them in a special way in his own creative work, God blessed man and woman with the words: “Be fruitful and multiply.” Hence, true married love and the whole structure of family life which results from it, without diminishment of the other ends of marriage, are directed to disposing the spouses to cooperate valiantly with the love of the Creator and Savior, who through them will increase and enrich his family from day to day.161
Post # 15
Honesty is always the best policy, and I dont see it being a major issue for you to talk to the priest and explain this exact thing… they will still marry you! Unless you are in a very strict parish. Good luck!
Post # 16
“They seemed to think that the church would not marry us unless we say we want children?” — This is false. The Church only asks that you are open to have children, and your desire to have children is a different issue all together. As long as you are open to the idea that it could happen, and if it does happen, that you accept it willingly, you would be fine.
“would never consider abortion and if one of our godchildren (or another child) needed us we would welcome them into our home.” — GOD BLESS your respecting life…
“It would be a big strain for us fiancially, and mentally.” — Where there is a will, there is a way. But, yes, I do understand what you are saying. Either way, by the graces of GOD, both of these situations could change.
“As I understand it you can be pregnant and take the meds, but it is not cleared for use in pregnant women. This worries me, as does passing my issues onto a child.” — On the positive side, the child could also grow up entirely normal with no issues at all.
“I will not lie if the question is asked and will let the chips fall where they may, but there are some pretty knowledgable catholic bees and I just wondered if there is a place in the catholic church for being married and without children?” — Of course. The Catholic Church with accept you with or without children. Some people want children but can’t have them. Others can have children but may not want them. Either way, leave it in GOD’s hands. Just remember that many who GOD has chosen did not want their roles… Moses, Peter, etc…