Catholic Wedding Q&A
Will the Catholic Church recognize the marriage of a Catholic to someone who is not a baptized Christian?
Yes, although the Catholic party must first obtain a “dispensation” from her bishop. The Church teaches that the marriage of a Catholic to someone who is not a baptized Christian is impeded (blocked) by “disparity of cult”—that is, the difference in their religious backgrounds. (This would include marriage to someone who is an atheist or agnostic.) This impediment can be removed (dispensed with) by the bishop if the following conditions are met:
- The Catholic party must promise to do all in his or her power to have all children baptized and raised in the Catholic Church.
- The Catholic party must declare that she or he is prepared to remove all dangers that might cause him or her to fall away from the faith. (For instance, the Catholic person might want to ensure that he or she is not prevented from attending Mass or receiving sacraments.)
- The non-Catholic person must be informed about the Catholic party's promises and obligation to fulfill them.
- The couple must be informed of the ends and properties of marriage. (In a nutshell, the purpose of marriage is the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children, and its essential properties are its unity and indissolubility.)
You may request a dispensation through the Catholic minister who will witness your wedding.
For more information
This lengthy article at ForYourMarriage.org offers advice to couples preparing for a mixed religion marriage, with special advice for couples preparing for a Jewish-Catholic wedding or a Muslim-Catholic wedding.
Marriage to a member of a non-Christian religion (PDF)
Formal guidelines (intended primarily for pastors and lay ecclesial ministers) from FamilyMinistries.org, an outreach of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
MarriagePreparation.org, a ministry of the Redemptorist Order, sponsors this web page for engaged or married couples from different faith backgrounds. Includes an overview of Church teaching on interfaith marriages as well as links to useful resources.
When a Catholic Marries a Non-Catholic