Skip to comments.Becoming Catholic
Posted on 03/30/2019 8:12:59 AM PDT by Salvation
Question: I had reason to hope my niece was going to convert to the Catholic faith. But there were so many obstacles the Church set up that discouraged her. She was asked to go to classes, and they told her that her marriage was not valid and she would need an annulment. Further, it was necessary to wait until Easter, etc. The nearby evangelical church set up no such obstacles, and she was able to join at once and be considered a member. I hear so much talk of evangelization today, but I share my niece’s frustration. Can we not streamline this process?
— Name withheld
Answer: There is a kind of appealing simplicity that you describe in many Protestant denominations. But there are problems with the approach that should give us pause. Ultimately evangelization is more about conversion than mere membership. We are summoned to embrace the saving teaching of the Lord and to walk according to it.
Because adults make informed decisions, the Church considers it important to teach them the fundamentals of the Faith so that they can know what it is they are agreeing to when they enter the Church. Although some of the Scriptures portray an almost instant, on-the-spot baptism, the consensus in the early Church shifted to a lengthy, three-year period of instruction (called the catechumenate) prior to baptism. This likely was because of the insight that quick conversions often led to quick departures or a falling away when the true demands of discipleship became known.
Instructions are most insisted upon for those who are unbaptized. In the case of those who are baptized and come from different Protestant denominations, the length and content of instructions will depend on their background. It is up to the discretion of the pastor who discerns with each individual what is needed. It is certainly not required for those already baptized to “wait until next Easter.”
The concerns about a person’s marital status are rooted in the very words and teachings of Jesus himself. He teaches without ambiguity that for a person to marry, then divorce and enter another marriage, puts them in an ongoing state of adultery in the “new” marriage (cf. Mt 5:32; Mt 19:1-9; Mk 10:11-12; Lk 16:18, etc). He adds rather firmly, “What God has joined together, let no one divide” (Mt 19:9).
It will be further noted that when the Lord was evangelizing the woman at the well, he brought her to a moment of conversion, and she asked for the gift of faith. But the Lord Jesus saw fit to first raise with her the fact that she had been married five times and was now living with a man outside of marriage. Her conversion would not be complete or adequate until she was willing to live chastely. Then the graces could flow.
For reasons of their own, many Protestant denominations have decided to practically overlook such passages. But the Catholic Church takes the Lord’s teaching on these matters rather seriously, as he clearly intended that we should. In some cases, after an investigation based on evidence, the Church may use its power to bind and loose, to indicate that the previous marriage was not “what God has joined,” and it recognizes the first marriage as null. A person’s current marriage then can be blessed and recognized. But we simply cannot set the Lord’s words aside as if they were of little importance.
Thus some conversions to the Catholic faith will take some time to be faithful to the teachings of the Lord and the nature of true conversion. It is worth the diligence required.
Monsignor Pope Ping for OSV column.
Evangelization is to the person of Jesus Christ, not to a church.
Exactly — and Jesus Christ is present within each and every Catholic Church and parishioner.
Always about the Catholic Church.
Never about Christ.
and Jesus Christ is present within each and every Catholic Church and parishioner.
Apparently not, since not all go to heaven.
Would you post chapter and verse about Christ renting an apartment in each Roman Catholic Church, I missed those verses.
Exactly. Like the Monsignor said, it is not about membership it is about conversion.
**The concerns about a persons marital status are rooted in the very words and teachings of Jesus himself. He teaches without ambiguity that for a person to marry, then divorce and enter another marriage, puts them in an ongoing state of adultery in the new marriage (cf. Mt 5:32; Mt 19:1-9; Mk 10:11-12; Lk 16:18, etc). He adds rather firmly, What God has joined together, let no one divide (Mt 19:9).**
Did you miss all these biblical quotes?
I saw them, but it does not address my observation.
Did you miss all these biblical quotes?
Plus the Scriptures teach more about marriage, divorce, and remarriage than was included..
But my points were about something different.
Always about hating Catholics, never about Christ!
You need to listen to the truth from the mouth of Jacob Prasch. He is annoited to explain why Evangelicalism is the only way.
One hopes. Christ, not the church, “saves to the utmost”. One is saved by believing on Him, not by joining a church.
Catholics apparently have higher standards.
I too feel that there needs to be a better balance on this. My husband grew up Luthern, baptized, confirmed was practicing until we married in the Catholic Church and agreed to raise our children as Catholics. He never really considered conversion until the kids stated their first communions and he wanted to participate in the Eucharistas well. Looked into it and same thing. Three years education in the Catholic faith. As a young father working raising three kids it was a lot to ask and it almost seemed insulting to me. The Catholic Church sometimes makes all other faiths feel less than or faulty. He did not go through with it. We felt it was a rejection of him as a Christian. Sad that the church cannot find a better way to convert those who want to fully participate. He lives his life as a Catholic for his children and that is more than I could ask for.
After my dad got his marriage annulled after 29 years and made me an official bastard I learned the best way to square with the Catholic Church is give them money.
I got a girl pregnant at age 18 and both families insisted on a Catholic wedding. Ended up coming down to giving them $5000 then all ok in the Catholic Gods eyes !
Testified over a 2 year period against a priest in molestation case which turned out to be more about money then the crime. He was not the only pervert in a cassock I encountered.
After 12 years of Catholic School Im done but am happy for anyone who feels they are finding their way to God by any means.
If she had not been baptized before, and she had not been married before then she can marry a catholic and it would be an ok marriage with the church. It is handled in the bible, not a problem, happens all the time.
If she is divorced, her first marriage needs to be handled before a priest will marry her. If she as been baptized in another christian faith, there is more work before the priest will do the marriage. It may be easier to go through the conversion which is normally finished at Easter.
She can always get married first and become Catholic later. The only down fall is that a priest may not do the ceremony.
You are right, the church does not make it easy. But they want their new Catholics to be real Catholics. Not just converting for the ceremony.
Did you miss that Jesus lived under the Old Covenant and had to be true to it..else, he wouldn’t have been the only Man to walk the earth and still abide by the Law of the Old Covenant.
No hatred for any catholic, except the priests who abuse children and their enablers.
Most Catholics only know what they are told to believe. You cant blame them for that.
There is another even more daunting hurdle, that Monsignor, perhaps, would have been wise to mention.
Annulments are not granted on demand. Annulment is available only if the marriage was initiated improperly:
- One of the spouses had been married and that marriage was not annulled
- One of the spouses was not free to marry for some other reason, e.g. had a vow of celibacy
- One of the spouses could not form free consent to marry, e.g. was too young
- The marriage was initiated for corrupt reason, e.g. to obtain citizenship
- The marriage was not intended to be a monogamous union for life, e.g. the spouses agreed to take lovers on the side
- The spouses did not intend to have children even though they could conceive, e.g. agreed on systematic use of contraception
- The spouses could not sexually consummate the marriage, e.g. were too old to have sex.
- A spouse was Catholic but did not have a wedding in a Catholic Church, nor had a dispensation from the bishop
- I probably forget a case or two
In most other circumstances, the Church might recommend a civil divorce in order to protect security and dignity of the victimized spouse, but the Church would not grant annulment. For example, if the marriage was conceived properly per the points above, but over the course of the marriage one spouse became abusive, started cheating, or developed an addiction, — that marriage cannot be annulled. In such case, the spouses might separate and obtain a civil divorce for legal protection, but the marriage is valid in the eye of God and so the spouses are not free to remarry so long as the other souse lives.
In short, joining the Catholic Church as adult is even harder than the article implies. Just like in general, discipleship of Christ imposes severe burden on the disciple.
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