Catechism of the Catholic Church: Mixed marriages and disparity of
1633 In many countries the situation of a mixed marriage (marriage
between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic) often arises. It
requires particular attention on the part of couples and their
pastors. A case of marriage with disparity of cult (between a Catholic
and a non-baptized person) requires even greater circumspection.
1634 Difference of confession between the spouses does not constitute
an insurmountable obstacle for marriage, when they succeed in placing
in common what they have received from their respective communities,
and learn from each other the way in which each lives in fidelity to
Christ. But the difficulties of mixed marriages must not be
underestimated. They arise from the fact that the separation of
Christians has not yet been overcome. The spouses risk experiencing
the tragedy of Christian disunity even in the heart of their own home.
Disparity of cult can further aggravate these difficulties.
Differences about faith and the very notion of marriage, but also
different religious mentalities, can become sources of tension in
marriage, especially as regards the education of children. The
temptation to religious indifference can then arise.
1635 According to the law in force in the Latin Church, a mixed
marriage needs for liceity the express permission of ecclesiastical
authority [Cf. CIC, can. 1124]. In case of disparity of cult an
express dispensation from this impediment is required for the validity
of the marriage [Cf. CIC, can. 1086.]. This permission or dispensation
presupposes that both parties know and do not exclude the essential
ends and properties of marriage; and furthermore that the Catholic
party confirms the obligations, which have been made known to the
non-Catholic party, of preserving his or her own faith and ensuring
the baptism and education of the children in the Catholic Church [Cf.
CIC, can. 1125.].
1636 Through ecumenical dialogue Christian communities in many regions
have been able to put into effect a common pastoral practice for mixed
marriages. Its task is to help such couples live out their particular
situation in the light of faith, overcome the tensions between the
couple's obligations to each other and towards their ecclesial
communities, and encourage the flowering of what is common to them in
faith and respect for what separates them.
1637 In marriages with disparity of cult the Catholic spouse has a
particular task: "For the unbelieving husband is consecrated through
his wife, and the unbelieving wife is consecrated through her
husband." [1 Cor 7:14.]. It is a great joy for the Christian spouse
and for the Church if this "consecration" should lead to the free
conversion of the other spouse to the Christian faith. [Cf. 1 Cor 7:16]. Sincere
married love, the humble and patient practice of the family virtues,
and perseverance in prayer can prepare the non-believing spouse to
accept the grace of conversion.
Please see also:
Mixed Marriages Marriages between a catholic and a baptized Christian who is not in full communion with the Catholic Church are
called mixed marriages. For mixed marriages, permission (not
dispensation) from the local ordinary (usually the bishop) is required
for validity. Marriages between Catholics and unbaptized persons
(disparity of cult) are invalid unless a dispensation from the local ordinary is granted. All this presupposes that these marriages are
celebrated with all other necessary conditions fulfilled. The local
bishop may grant permission or dispensation for such marriages on the
- The Catholic party declares that he or she is prepared to remove dangers of falling away from the faith and makes a sincere promise to
do all in his power to have all the children baptized and brought up
in the Catholic Church.
- The other party is to be informed at an appropriate time of these promises that the catholic person has to make. It is important that
the other person be truly aware of the commitments and obligations of
the Catholic spouse.
- Both persons are to be instructed with respect to the essential ends and properties of marriage, which are not to be excluded by
- The man and woman should marry in the Catholic Church. The canonical from (Church ceremony with an authorized catholic priest or
deacon and at least two other witnesses present) is to be followed.
When there are serious difficulties, the local bishop may give a
dispensation and allow another form which is public (such as a civil
ceremony) to be followed. It is never allowed, however, to have a
Catholic priest or deacon and a non-Catholic minister, rabbi, or
public official, each performing his or her own rite, asking for the
consent of the parties. Likewise, it is forbidden to have another
religious marriage ceremony before or after the Catholic ceremony for
giving or receiving the matrimonial consent. Marriage consent is given
cf. [Handbook of Prayers | Rev. James Socias, Publisher]