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The resolute Catholic and the athiest

(203 Posts)
Loulouzz Tue 09-Apr-19 15:23:11

Myself and DP have come to a standstill. Very serious and talks of marriage and children are on the cards, fantastic we're both on the same page. But now the topic of religion has reared its head and we're butting heads.

I went to a CofE primary school, was christened, attended church etc but it was never really part of my home life and now mid 20s I'd say I'm an athiest, or at least agnostic. DP on the otherhand attended an all boys Catholic school, was baptised, completed holy communion and had to attend church until midteens. He's a Catholic, it makes no odds to me and I'm happy he has a faith I'm almost sad I don't but its not something I can believe in.

So now children are on the cards and he's adamant he wants them to be like him and be Catholic, including a baptism. This isn't something I'm at all comfortable with. I want my children to be presented with all the information and make a decision for themselves, not attend church into teen years and essentially become brainwashed. I'll never crap on his beliefs but I also won't teach them as fact. I've said I'd be happy enough with a christening but not under the umbrella of the Catholic Church. This feels like middleground, they're pretty much the same bar some subtle differences, one of which is that a christening is considered a naming ceremony but "In the sacrament of Baptism the baby's name is used and mentioned, however it is the rite of claiming the child for Christ and his Church that is celebrated.. requires nurturing through such things as worship, prayer, Bible study and other spiritual disciplines". It's all these restrictions, rules and guilt culture I can't get on board with.

I have no issue with religion or my children becoming Christians but I have issues with the Catholic Church, I have think they rate themselves superior, above the law, are an antidemocratic and authoritarian institution and you do not need to follow their additional rules to be a healthy happy Christian. I feel people will say its just a baptism it doesn't mean much but once a childs name is given to the church its entered into the "baptismal rolls" of your local Diocese. This name is PERMANENTLY in those records, and the Diocese uses those rolls to inflate their claims of catholics. You can only remove it by applying to the Vatican for 'defection', not excommunication, and this too was abolished in 2012.

There are so many issues within the Catholic Church that I don't want my child on a list that gives them lobbying power, bigger tax breaks and more governance.

I've tried to communicate this but we're not getting anywhere, he says he'd maybe one day be okay with a CofE christening whereas I would actively dislike a Catholic baptism so surely that's a fair middle ground? He says I'm hurting him with this and I don't know what to do but it's something I feel strongly about, as clearly he does too. I'm not completely in the know with this topic so any additional information regardless of who you agree with will be helpful.

Massive well done if you got to the end of that rambling mess, sorry everyone I'm just fretting. How would you handle it?

babypossum Wed 10-Apr-19 10:42:43

Also meant to say my DH is an atheist.

babypossum Wed 10-Apr-19 10:41:18

Our DS was baptised catholic as my husband knew how important it was to me and my late DM, despite me not practising. We have no intention of getting our DS confirmed or expecting him to attend mass etc.

Itwouldtakemuchmorethanthis Wed 10-Apr-19 10:27:56

You could always do both? Marry in church, then make promises outside somewhere beautiful, and let both of your feelings be totally satisfied? Who is to say which part of the day holds more significance or is valued most by the couple?

WhatisFreddoingnow Wed 10-Apr-19 10:17:36

Ultimately, if you are getting married outside, the chances are that a priest or vicar won't be able to marry you.

If you got married in a protestant church, your partner would need to get a dispensention from the Bishop ( I understand that these are granted unless there are extreme circumstances).

CharlyAngelic Wed 10-Apr-19 10:05:03

Agree with @peony2325 , a Catholic priest will not do it outwith the church , and you are unlikely to get a "dispensation " if it is not in a church.
I think you will still have a lot of sorting out to do , if not now , then in the future.
Good luck @Loulouzz

Itwouldtakemuchmorethanthis Wed 10-Apr-19 09:23:48

It's also my understanding that you have to have been christened / baptised (by anyone) to be married by a Catholic priest although my information is a few years out of date.
No this isn’t right, though there is more paperwork. My dh is a Muslim and we have been happily married for decades. As far as I remember he did sign a piece of paper to say he wouldn’t stand in the way of me freely practicing my religion and that I could raise any children within my religion, but he may have done that voluntarily rather than as a prerequisite. “lessons” premarriage with the priest were actually more a space to explore our thinking and involved sitting in an office with cups of tea. We are both extremely focused on support each other in all parts of our lives and I would probably be more outspoken in defence of his religion and vice versa than we would of our own.
Be kind to each other. You lose nothing by supporting a scaffolding that reassures and comforts him. From that he can grow into a confident father and husband. If it offers no support to him he will move away from it naturally.

Livpool Wed 10-Apr-19 08:19:37

I'm an agnostic but DH is a practising Catholic. My DS was baptised but I don't think that stops him from exploring other faiths (or deciding not to follow anything) when he is older.

With regards to keeping records, I think we are all recorded enough these days so one more doesn't bother me

mostlydrinkstea Wed 10-Apr-19 08:06:30

Just a quick note about weddings. You cannot be married outside in the C of E or RC churches as it is the buildings that are licensed for weddings. Priests are registrars by virtue of being priests but we cannot marry people in hotels, stately homes or gardens. This applies to England. If you get married in another country other rules may apply.

In the UK there are celebrants who will wear a collar, call themselves revd, wear robes etc but are not ordained by any Christian church. This may or may not be important to your partner but if this agreement depends on you getting married outside in England in the C of E then unless they change the rules it can't happen.

CherryPavlova Wed 10-Apr-19 07:29:18

I think you are sensible to address pre children and marriage. I also wonder how perfectly matched you are with such a fundamental disdain for something that is important to him. If you’re atheist, why does it actually matter? I don’t follow Islam but would happily go to an iftar buffet.
My Catholic daughter is marrying an atheist but he’s compromised as has she. They’re having an Anglican wedding with church dispensation and a blessing. He respects and has come to understand why her faith is important to her. He attends Mass with her sometimes. She accepts there is but one God and for her, the building and denomination is less important so willing to have Anglican service as she knows the vicars well and he feels more comfortable with Anglican rites from his schooldays.
I’ve plenty of Catholic friends married to non believers. What has allowed their marriages to succeed is respect. Usually children have been brought up as Catholics but having a non Catholic parent limits the extreme reactionary type of practice. Most mixed marriages involve a pretty tolerant type of Catholic. Many children go to Catholic schools and do not practice or become indoctrinated. They learn to understand how faith is important to some and have a moral,framework to live by.
Yes, some Catholics have behaved dreadfully over the years but so have Anglicans and atheists. That doesn’t make everyone bad.

womandear Wed 10-Apr-19 07:22:41

Your critique of the church is correct, but it also covers C of E, and most other major churches/religions to be fair. This is a deal breaker -you need to sort this asap. Perhaps a compromise where they are baptised ( Catholic baptism really is EXACTLY the same as high Cof E) but no Holy Communion and No Confirmation as that really does have a special degree of brain washing involved. I was raised Catholic but by the time I was 11/12 realised on my own what a load of misogynist rubbish organised religion is with men at the top telling everyone what to do with the women in supporting roles...

BlueberryFool123 Wed 10-Apr-19 07:15:26

The 4 main reasons for marriage breakdown are:

1. Money issues
2. In-laws
3. Religion
4. How to bring kids up.

Personally, I think this is a major problem for you (crosses 3 and 4).

I know you say you think it can be resolved with a compromise, but I think this is likely to be a major issue in your marriage. I know people above have made it work, but I’m would be concerned.

If you child comes home from school talking about Jesus and god. What are you going to say?is your husband going to be upset when you say “some people believe that”?

What about first holy communion? Your child can’t go in saying “some people believe this”.

Sorry to be so pessimistic

Veterinari Wed 10-Apr-19 07:14:36

I suspect you’ll find that when it comes to actually organising wedding, baptism etc he’s suddenly less willing to do the work involved and it becomes a non-issue. If he can't be arsed to attend church, I can’t see him arranging a catholic baptism

bellinisurge Wed 10-Apr-19 07:05:34

Reasonable compromise, op. My non- Christian Dad believed (actually he was an atheist) one thing, my Catholic mum believed another. Dad got stuck in with the academic stuff, mum with any religious stuff. As we got older we discussed all sorts with Dad including the non- Christian belief system he was brought up with. Mum has no problem with this.
Both their families apart from one or two siblings either side had a MASSIVE problem with it. That spurred on my parents. Now all my parents' generation are dead, apart from one cool aunt, the cousins all get on fine.

Sorchajanebright Wed 10-Apr-19 04:07:29

In regards to those say they doubt a catholic priest will marry you outside, my brother and his (now ex) wife were married by a catholic priest outside in the garden of their own home. Albeit this was in New Zealand, not the U.K and the priest is question was also a close family friend. Plus it was 20 years ago, so maybe things have changed since. Neither my brother or his wife were practicing catholics, and it most definitely wasn't a catholic wedding. But still, it might not be as impossible as others have said, if this is something you partner would really like, OP.

DPotter Wed 10-Apr-19 03:11:14

I'm pleased you have reached a compromise Loulouzz (although I agree it's highly unlikely you will find a Catholic or a CoE priest to marry you outside). I would still suggest you and your DP meet with a Catholic priest to talk through these issues as both your DP's and your understanding does seem to be wide of the mark on some points. If your DP is from a Catholic family there will be pressure and expectations and it's better for you if you have a plan in place, discussed to counter pressure before hand.

It's also my understanding that you have to have been christened / baptised (by anyone) to be married by a Catholic priest although my information is a few years out of date.

Itwouldtakemuchmorethanthis Wed 10-Apr-19 01:17:23

The vows you make in a catholic wedding are between husband and wife, the sacrament is created between the two of you rather than the priest doing it iykwim. You being christened makes it simpler but you do need to meet with the priest several times if you want him to be there. I’d read a bit more about catholic marriage (the sacrament not tabloids). You might find it more in line with your thinking than you think.

EleanorAbernathy Wed 10-Apr-19 00:53:44

Op I do wonder if you’re more atheist than anything and your dh is loosely a Catholic, why he can’t have the marriage in a Catholic Church and a baptism? I’m a very pragmatic type though but I remember asking the same questions when we had a Muslim/atheist fall out in our family - if it’s meaningless ritual to you, why does it matter?

Atheist married to a Christian here, we didn't marry in a church as although the religious parts of the ceremony are a meaningless ritual to me, our wedding ceremony itself isn't and I didn't want to recite vows that I didn't believe- DH was happy with this although he would have preferred to marry in a church.

We don't have children and aren't planning any, but strangely I think I'd be less bothered about any sort of baptism or christening, as I wouldn't be making any sort of vows myself. My mum attended a Baptist church, I have no idea if I had anything like that myself (don't they baptise people when they're older?) but it hasn't affected me either way! grin

Ferfeckssake Wed 10-Apr-19 00:32:32

Glad you feel you have resolved it .
But can I point out that by having a child baptised , you ARE pledging to bring up your kids Catholic.
Your DP seems to be an " a la carte" Catholic ie .Only choosing to heed the doctrines that appeal to him and ignoring the rest. Seems very unfair that his desire to participate in Baptism and not take very seriously the implications , gets priority over your obviously very strongly felt , anti Catholic , atheist views.
I am truly glad that you are happy together.Hope it all works out for you.

Weathermonger Wed 10-Apr-19 00:07:18

I was in the same position with my husband, and it was a heated discussion we had several times prior to marriage. He was adamant about a catholic upbringing for future children, even tho' he only attended church on high days and holidays. I agreed that he could do what he wanted, but I would not be involved, and if questioned I would provide alternative viewpoints. In the end, by the time we had kids, he honestly couldn't be bothered. In fact we didn't even have them christened. A total non issue.

Rufusthebewilderedreindeer Tue 09-Apr-19 23:56:49

Glad you've reached a compromise you are happy with lou

Loulouzz Tue 09-Apr-19 23:56:00

Frankly I don't care as long as he's happy with it, but no he's a lot less devout than I expected, and I'm relieved tbh. I'll never convert to the Catholic Church so it's not an option, as long as its someone from the church he's happy, just isn't up there on his list and if it were we couldn't marry. All is well in the world and we're happy with our decisions which is literally all that matters to me

peony2325 Tue 09-Apr-19 23:50:58

Bizarre that a 'resolute Catholic' would be happy to be married by a Protestant vicar (no Catholic priest will marry you outdoors), seems like they missed out the Reformation in his history lessons!

Italiangreyhound Tue 09-Apr-19 23:46:31

Good luck with the wedding OP.

Loulouzz Tue 09-Apr-19 23:39:00

I've been to weddings in non church venues that were performed by someone from the church, not Catholic no, so I'm sure we'll find someone! It's away off yet so I'll put it on the "Cross that bridge when we come to it" list

Aquiline Tue 09-Apr-19 23:31:51

Sounds good, OP. A Catholic priest won’t marry you outdoors, I’m afraid. I’m not sure about the C of E — I know they wouldn’t in the past, but there was talk of that changing...?

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