Questions about Marriage

Q If one of us is not a Catholic, do we need permission?

A Yes: it is called a ‘dispensation’ or ‘permission’ and is arranged for you by the Priest.

Q What if we are living together and maybe have children?

A Many couples today are in this situation. The fact that one of you at least is a member of the Catholic Church by baptism means that you are able to marry within the Catholic Church. The Church welcomes all couples who feel ready to make a public commitmentto each other.

Q Are those who are not Roman Catholics required to become Roman Catholics?

A No: the Church believes that becoming a member of a Church is a separate commitment, to be chosen freely. The decision to become a Catholic can be made at any time.

Q Do we have to make any promises?

A If one partner is not a Catholic, then the Catholic partner is asked to make the following
declaration as part of the preparation: “I declare that I am ready to uphold my Catholic faith and to avoid all dangers of falling away from it. Moreover, I sincerely undertake that I will do all I can, within the unity of our partnership, to have all children of our marriage baptised and brought up in the Catholic Church.

The priest will ask the Catholic either to sign the declaration or make it verbally, after discussing with his or her partner that statement and its meaning. As can be seen from the wording above, the Church accepts that this commitment should not threaten the unity of the marriage. Rather, it is to emphasise the supporting role of a living faith in a couple’s life together.

Q What about the Church’s view on birth control?

A The Church states positively that one purpose of the gift of sexuality is for a couple’s love-making to be open to having children. The Church also recognises that couples want to make responsible decisions. Some further information for can be found in Christopher West’s book, Good News about Sex and Marriage.

Q Why do Catholics believe that marriage is for life?

A Ask any couple about to get married what they want most out of life and almost all of them will tell you that it is, ‘to be happy together for always’, which implies an unconditional commitment to life-long faithfulness to each other.

Christians believe that we should have the courage to say and to promise what we feel in our hearts, and to resolve to work to keep that love and support alive “till death do us part”.

* Grateful acknowledgement to Fr. Stephen Wang, author of “How to Discover your Vocation”, CTS