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When a Protestant Marries a Roman Catholic

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Archives / 1946 / January



When a Protestant Marries a Roman Catholic

Robert L. Odom

By ROBERT LEO ODOM, Editor, Our Times, Nashville, Tennessee


The matter of mixed marriages has become a burning issue between Protestants and Roman Catholics in recent months. Several leading representatives of twentieth-century Protestantism have publicly taken a strong stand against the papal policy which to all intents and purposes say, "We make all the rules for any marriage in which a Roman Catholic is a party."

Most important among the published statements on such marriages is the 24-page tract, If I Marry a Roman Catholic, copyrighted 1945 by Leland Forster Wood, and published by the Commission on Marriage and the Home, Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America, 297 Fourth Ave­nue, New York 10, New. York. The price is only five cents, with liberal discounts given when quan­tities of ten copies or more are ordered. Every Seventh-day Adventist worker ought to read this enlightening -document.

H. Clifford Northcott dealt with the same sub­ject in an article entitled "If My Daughter Should Want to Marry a Roman Catholic" in The Christian Advocate (Methodist), April 19, 1945. And The Watchman-Examiner (Baptist) of August 2, 1945, carried a fine article, 'This Matter of Mixed Marriages," by Frank C. Rideout. Lieutenant Colonel Ridecitif is a retired chaplain of the United States Army. These articles make helpful supple­mentary reading on the question.


Following is a copy of the statement that the Protestant party to a mixed marriage must sign in the presence of a Roman Catholic priest before the wedding takes place:

"I, the undersigned, not a member of the [Roman] Catholic Church, wishing to contract marriage with_______ , a member of the Catholic Church, propose to do  so with the understanding that the marriage bond thus contracted is indissoluble, except by death. I promise on my word of honor that I will not in any way hinder or obstruct the said ________  of the exercise of _______  religion and that all children of either sex born of our mar­riage shall be baptized and educated in the Catholic faith and according to the teachings of the Catholic Church, even though the said __________  should be taken away by death.                                                                                 

"I further promise that I will marry _________  only according to the marriage rite of the Catholic Church; that I will not, either before or after the Catholic ceremony, present myself with __________  for marriage before a civil magistrate or minister of the gospel.


"Signed in the presence of Rev


Date ----------------------------------------------------

(See Why Not a Mixed Marriage? by John A. O'Brien, p. 9, Paulist Press, New York City.)

Several significant facts are revealed by a sur­vey of the studies made on this subject of mixed marriages:

1. The Roman Catholic Church makes all the rules and gains all the advantages; the Protestant obeys all the rules and makes all the Concessions.

2. The marriage is performed by a Roman Cath­olic priest only, and on his word of honor the Protestant-pledgeS that he will not seek marriage by either a civil magistrate or a minister of a Protestant church, not even the pastor of his own congregation.

3. The Protestant promises on his word of honor that all children of either sex born to the marriage will be baptized and educated in the. Roman Cath­olic faith, by which pledge he deprives himself of the privilege of teaching his own offspring the tenets of his religion or of associating them with him in worship in his own church.

4. The Protestant pledges on his word of honor that he will in no way hinder or obstruct his com­panion in the exerCise of the Roman Catholic re­ligion, bUt no such assurance it exacted from the Roman CatholiC party to the marriage. ThiS means also that the Protestant must concede to the Roman Catholic party's wishes in all matters re­garding birth control, the use of contraceptives, "planned marriage," etc., which are subject to strict regulation by the Roman hierarchy.

5. Furthermore, the Protestant is required to submit to a course of instruction in the Roman re­ligion by a priest before the marriage is performed, in order that he may understand well what the Papacy requires of the party to whom he is to be wedded.

6. The Roman Catholic party is required to do all in his power to convert his Protestant compan­ion to the papal religion.

"For the issuing of a dispensation for a mixed mar­riage, the [Roman] Church requires three conditions; that the [Roman] Catholic party be allowed free exercise of religion, that all the offspring are to be brought up [Roman] Catholics, and that the [Roman] Catholic party promise to do all that is ,possible to convert the non-Catholic."—The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 9, p. 699, col. 1, art. "Marriage, Mixed."

"The [Roman] Catholic party ought to seek the con­version of his companion before and after the wedding by means of good manners and industry, and above all by the example of a life sincerely [Roman] Catholic."—La Revista Catolica (Spanish Catholic Review, Jesuit), Oct. I, 1944. (El Paso; Texas.)

7. In making these concessions to Romanism, the Protestant party to such marriage virtually declares that his own religion is false, worthless, and invalid, and that the Roman religion is the only one that is true and worth while. In reply to the question, "May a [Roman] Catholic be best man or bridesmaid at a Protestant marriage? The Sign ( July, 1939), a Roman Catholic periodical published monthly by Passionist Missions, Union City, New Jersey, replied: "If such an office is part of a religious rite, it is not lawful for a [Roman] Catholic to act as bridesmaid or best man, for it would be communication with a false religion and a tacit approbation of it."

Protestant writers on this subject urge that Protestant youth be shown the dangers involved in marriage with Roman Catholics, and that a pro­gram of education in this direction be diligently fostered in all Protestant churches. Statistics re­veal that 15.2 percent of such mixed marriages result in broken homes, which is more than twice as high as the rate for weddings in which bride and groom are both Protestant. Surely Seventh-day Adventists must not be behind in the education of their youth concerning such a vital matter.

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