By some accounts, nearly half of all Catholics today marry a non-Catholic. The good news is that the Church is dedicated to helping these couples have strong, faith-filled marriages, beginning with a ceremony that reflects their commitment to God and to each other.
There are special considerations for Catholics who are marrying non-Catholics. Most dioceses advise against celebrating the Eucharist during the wedding ceremony, since it underlines the division between the couple rather than the unity. Only the Catholics present would be free to receive the Eucharist, for example. And while the non-Catholic partner is no longer required to sign a pledge to raise the couple’s children as Catholics, the Catholic partner must promise to do everything possible to pass on the faith to the next generation.
It’s important for couples from different traditions to fully explore all the issues involved as they prepare for marriage. How will you handle pressure from your own families? How well do you know each other’s faith? How will you worship and pray, both early in your marriage and after you have children? And those marrying a non-Christian – rather than a non-Catholic Christian – have additional challenges to face.
Interchurch and interfaith marriages do require some extra attention and work. But with the commitment of both partners and their faith communities, they can endure and flourish as a prophetic sign of God’s kingdom, when all people will be one before the Father.