In the e-mail: “I was raised Catholic, but have fallen out of the faith…” — UPDATED

A reader posted this as a comment but I thought I’d put it here for wider discussion:

Hi, I stumbled onto this sight [sic] because I have a question. This isn’t terribly related to the topic at hand, but it looks like people here may have some insight. I was raised Catholic, but, as someone put above, have “fallen out of faith”. That is not the issue here, so please leave it be. I am engaged to a man who is not baptized, and we are in the planning stages of our wedding.

My issue is that my father, whom I love very much, is in formation (is that right?) to become a deacon in the Catholic Church. Short of having it in a Catholic Church (which isn’t going to happen), what needs to be done so that he will be able to attend AND walk me down the aisle? The idea of my parents not attending my wedding is causing me a fair bit of anxiety, but I need to know if it is simply inevitable.

This is obviously a painful and complicated situation.

From my perspective, I’m not sure there’s anything the bride herself can do to change things — short of having a conversion of heart and a Catholic wedding.  (I’d have a few questions of my own first: have you talked to your parents about this decision?  A Catholic priest?)

It’s really, I think, a greater challenge for her mother and father, who have to prayerfully consider all the options available, the consequences involved, and perhaps seek some spiritual direction before making a decision.   Every family is different. Every circumstance is different.

But I don’t think there’s an easy solution.

Any thoughts?

Full disclosure and fair warning: be constructive and answer, please, with charity.

UPDATE: A solution, from Deacon Mike in the comments:

This happens quite often. All that has to happen is for the bride to approach her local parish priest and get the necessary dispensation. If she did that, which is very easy, then there would be no conflict of interest for her father. A Catholic may marry a non baptized person outside of a church ceremony so long as they have the proper dispensations from the bishop. It would be a valid but non sacramental marriage. The only question is whether or not the bride would be willing to approach her parish priest and ask for the dispensations. If she did that then all is well.

UPDATE II: From another deacon in the comments:

Having lived this situation, I chose to attend my son’s wedding. At the wedding reception, as his father, I blessed him and his lovely bride, wishing them joy and happiness upon their vows in covenant of marriage. And all enjoyed themselves at their celebration.

In formation it was continually stressed three priorities in this order: Faith in God, Family unity, and vocation lived out in the diaconal ministry. The deacon candidate should see his daughter for what she is, his flesh and blood, a great gift from God, and an adult. He should honor her wishes, and gently suggest she seek a dispensation as noted above. Still if she persists in not having any relationship with the Church, he should graciously accept it, and participate in the wedding. It will matter greatly in the future for him to have done so. I doubt walking her down the aisle will cause a public scandal. It is a sign of his fatherly love. So I suggest that daughter and father should pray together for unity, trusting in God’s Providential help.

Note, 7 years later, I still pray for my son and daughter-in-law to heal their disaffection with the Catholic Church, but it doesn’t stop us from having an engaging and loving relationship. God will mend all fractures and disunity in His time if we accept his healing graces (though, frustrating, it is rarely the same as our time.)

  • DWiss

    I have no experience withnthis situation, so I can offer no solution.

    A question, though: If you are a fallen away Catholic, but your father is preparing to become a permanent deacon (a huge committment), do you think there may be something he sees in the faith that you do not, and resolving that dissonance may actually be the solution?

  • Deacon Bruce E. Sago

    I see no reason why your father cannot attend the wedding and walk you down the aisle & participate fully in this joyful event. Your father will not be making any religious staement by his presence other than his love for you, his daughter. The days of Catholics not being able to attend marriages not held in a Catholic Church are long over. As my daughter told me before her wedding, “You were my dad long before you became a deacon. So I’d love it if you were my dad that day & walk me down the aisle.” Who can argue with that!

  • friscoeddie

    Parents should/ought to accompany the bride and groom at the wedding, wish them well. give them a blessing of some kind, a cross on the forehead or even a pat on the head. Any of that “you’re dead to me’ by not attending or standing with their child is a parental sin and a decades lasting generational stain on the family. Deacon-to-be father, be careful and don’t take advise from the up tight ones in your formation. Remember the only thing you don’t want to lose is your daughter.. forget the sash if necessary. Mother.. if he reneges, be there , with regrets.

  • Joe mc Faul

    I don’t see how the Father’s attendance and particpation in any non-official capacity is a ratification or agreement with the writer’s religious or marital choices.

    That said, I have been in the father’s position more than once and I contemplated whether or not “I” was willing to walk the bride down the aisle. I made my decisions and I respect anybody in that situation that makes a principled decision not based on “what would people think,” “convenience” or “peace in the family.” I think the decision is very much the father’s and there is nothing the letter writer can do if the father makes a principled decision that he will not attend or will attend but not walk her down the aisle. If he makes a principled decision to walk her down the aisle, that does not mean he agrees with her religious choices so I would also not suggest he has somehow compromised his faith or his potential posision as a deacon if he chooses to do so.

    There is no hint in the letter writer’s question that her father is exerting any coercion on her to to “fall back into the faith.” It appears he has treated her as an adult and consciously allowed her to make her own faith decisions. She should reciprocate that gift and allow him to make his own adult decisions even if she disagrees with them.

    There are a number of workarounds if she will consider those.

  • Deacon Greg Kandra

    But it’s more complicated than just attending a wedding outside a Catholic Church.

    She is a baptized Catholic, marrying someone who is not baptized, in a non-Catholic ceremony. Her father is in formation to become a member of the Catholic clergy. He would be participating in and tacitly approving a union that is considered, in the teaching of the Church, invalid. Some would even consider his participation a scandal. (I wonder what his Director of Formation would think — or his bishop?) Add to that the deep love of a daughter for her father, and vice versa, and all the emotions of the event, and the family ties…and, well, this is a very tough call.

    Like I said: it’s complicated.

  • Chris Sullivan

    Dcn Greg,

    But isn’t this a valid marriage ?

    Might not be in accord with Canon Law, and certainly non sacramental as the husband to be is unbaptised, but still a valid marriage.

    I think that Catholic teaching on the right to religious freedom (that of the bride and groom), that of respect for the conscience of others, the injunction not to judge others, and one’s obligation to love one’s neighbour, let alone one’s family, all argue strongly for participation in the marriage.

    That’s the loving thing to do.

    God Bless

  • http://ad-orientem.blogspot.com Ad Orientem

    Deacon Greg,
    I empathize with you and the Deacon to be. In a multicultural and multi-religious society things are going to get sloppy at times and the customary lines marked “do” on one side and “don’t” on the other get blurred. Sometimes this will end up causing hurt. I am an Orthodox Christian from a Catholic family with a Protestant sister who recently had to decline a request to stand as Godfather for my niece who is to be baptized Episcopalian. I know for a fact that this refusal caused pain.

    But there is a difference, albeit a fine line, between attending and participating in a non-Catholic (or Orthodox) religious rite. In the Orthodox Church we have a term that I don’t really see very much in the Christian West. It is “oikonomia” or loosely translated, “economy.” The concept is that the Church has been given the power of binding and loosing and may dispense the faithful from a strict application of the law (“akriva”) for pastoral reasons or the good of souls. In general we aren’t quite as stuck on the whole letter of the law thing.

    In this instance my gut says that that we may have a good candidate for the application of economia. I would attach a few conditions though…

    1. The wedding MUST be at least Christian if not Catholic. That means in a confessionally Christian church in front of a minister or preacher. Yes, that does exclude some sects that use the word “church” in their name.
    2. No civil ceremony.
    3. No non-Christian ceremony.
    4. No participation beyond walking down the aisle and giving the bride away.

    As long as those conditions are met I would counsel the father to attend. IMHO the greater scandal would be the hurt to his daughter which might strain family ties for years or even permanently. And the rest of the family and their friends would not likely understand. Nor do I think the cause of getting his daughter back into the Church would be advanced by his refusing to attend hew wedding. Before refusing to attend he should carefully weigh the potential consequences of that refusal.

    And finally we must remember that love and charity are the first article of the law.

  • Jim

    We don’t fall out of faith. We lose or choose to lose, our clarity on what counts. We let stuff, albeit; money, boys, popularity, partying… cloud our paths and decisions. We choose earthly desire over heavenly grace and God becomes a stumbling block. Then we can stumble into heart bruising and sometimes heart breaking, situations over and over.

    The letter mentions “we are at the planning stages of the wedding.” I pray for a long engagement. I agree with Deacon Greg, the family needs intervention. A trusted third party to find possible talking paths to explore any solutions.

    My bigger concern is the relationship between the engaged couple. They sound like they have come from very different backgrounds and this may be only the first stumbling block of God, of many more to come.

    A few years down the road and the children start coming, this same stumbling block will come up again. This time, there’s a good chance that the daughter will start looking at the Catholic Church differently, and will want to come home.

    They all need TIME for prayerful consideration and not rush, it’s too important to all involved.

  • Notgiven

    Very good points all around.

    If she thinks it is inevitable, she has already accepted the situation that he might not be able to participate as in Deacon Greg’s comment above. So, I think she already gets why it might not be possible for him.

    If so, much as she would love him to participate, she could come to him with much love and say–Dad, I know this is very difficult for you. I love you very, very much. But, I will understand if you cannot participate/attend my wedding. I know you want to. But, I don’t want you to forfeit becoming a deacon because of me. Thus she would show great love for her father. And, her father would, with a clear conscience be able to forgo that part of the whole event. Let him be very, very supportive and gracious at the reception. And, let her explain why her father couldn’t participate at the reception, at the toast perhaps…and then say, “Dad, you are my hero!” It would be a great sacrifice for both father and daughter to make. But, no greater love has someone than to lay down their life for a friend. When she explains all at the reception in these terms, there will hardly be a dry eye in the place because all would have experienced such a great love between daughter and father and vice versa. And, family relations will be off to a great start all the way around.

    ps. Be sure to get the whole thing on tape so Dad can watch over and over again!

  • http://www.cnewa.us Father Hayden

    I am reminded of St. Augustine “In essential things unity… in non-essential things liberty… but in all things charity.” The ball is in the father’s court and he must determine if this is an “essential” or not. It seems to me – in light of the fact that he’s in formation to be a deacon and the note from the bride in question – that his daughter knows his positions on the Church’s teaching. So, having had an adult conversation dad and daughter can agree to disagree about this matter and the father could walk his daughter down the isle because of his love for her – not wanting to bring division to his family. If the daughter does not believe, then to try to coerce her to be married in the Church undermines the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. If there is hurtful division, reunification becomes more remote. I am always reminded, in these matters, that the last canon in the Code states that the supreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls. You were right, Deacon Greg – to say that this is a complicated matter. I shall pray for this family as they negotiate these matters.

  • Kirkisright

    I was in the position of the daughter and fought with my mom throughout the planning stages. It did long term damage to our relationship and to my marriage. If she will not have a Cathoic wedding then I suggest being upfront with her dad. Tell him she would work with him to determine how much of the cermony he can participate if any. Maybe the best her parents can do is a kiss before the wedding at home, but work with him. If he loves her as much as she says it will workout, but they need to be upfront with each other and not try to convince the other to cave.

    Her primary focus needs to be on who she is marrying and why; not the cermony and who is walking with her down the aisle.

  • http://www.gerardnadal.com Gerard Nadal

    Deacon Greg,

    You’re right. This is a tough one, a very tough one.

    I think father and daughter need to have a weekend away together for some time alone to talk this over in stages.

    First, she has ‘fallen out of faith.’ This means that she no longer shares her father’s values as regards the Church. That she is yoking herself to one who is unbaptized means that her alliances are with her fiancee in a way that are much moreso than with her father. What is on the line, as I see it, is the ability of her father to be a vehicle for grace regarding her return to the faith at some point in the future.

    It won’t happen now, because she hasn’t experienced her own marriage and family lived and expressed non-sacramentally. Perhaps in time she and her husband may sense something lacking that gives rise to a deficit in the unitive dimension of their shared life’s journey. Perhaps she will look to her deacon father’s marriage and see later what she does not or can not see now. That vision may well be clouded by bitter resentment if she perceives herself to have been abandoned and humiliated on her wedding day.

    Like it or not, her fiance is going to become one flesh with his daughter and in all likelihood the father of her children. Canonical or not, this union is going to make this young man family. I would walk her down the aisle as her father, but would do so after taking her away for a weekend for a loving series of talks about marriage and all that it entails, and what the difference is sacramentally.

    I would let her know the dangers that I see, and pledge my undying love for her and my willingness to be there every step of the way in her future. There are the competing priorities of his deaconal formation and his fatherhood. His marriage is his primary vocation and he has a duty to do all that he can to help his children attain Heaven. I think that comes first, and while walking her down the aisle in a non-Catholic wedding is tough, I think it preserves the relationship into the future. The graces flowing from his ordination will undoubtedly flow into his daughter’s marriage in ways one can’t begin to imagine, but that requires the preservation of that relationship.

    My two cents…

  • Mike R

    A good friend’s Dad is a Deacon and many years ago when his sister (the Deacons daughter) was married outside of the Church, the dad decided not to attend. I can tell you that the hurt and pain of that decision is still present for this family. I think Dad should go to the wedding and perhaps because of his charity and I am sure prayers daughter and future son-in-law may some day in the future see the light. God bless

  • Deacon Greg Kandra

    Chris…

    There’s a good overview of the Church’s teaching on marriage at the USCCB website called “For Your Marriage.” You can check it out here.

    The site says:

    A valid Catholic marriage results from four elements: (1) the spouses are free to marry; (2) they freely exchange their consent; (3) in consenting to marry, they have the intention to marry for life, to be faithful to one another and be open to children; and (4) their consent is given in the presence of two witnesses and before a properly authorized Church minister. Exceptions to the last requirement must be approved by church authority.

    Dcn. G.

  • Deacon Greg Kandra

    Very good insight, Gerard. Thank you for that.

    I had a similar situation last summer, when my wife and I attended the wedding of her sister in Virginia. My sister-in-law had been married before, and was divorced, but had not gone through an annulment. Same with her new husband. It was a civil ceremony in a town hall. My wife and I weren’t part of the wedding party, just guests, but the angry reaction from some readers of this blog was a shock.

    As for this case? There are compelling arguments on all sides. But I think you do more good — and hold out more hope — by offering prayerful support in whatever way you can than by staging what amounts to a spiritual boycott. Healing and conciliation occur with dialogue, and with love; I don’t think a father staying away from the wedding would help that.

    In my wedding homily, I often remind people that Paul’s famous letter to the Corinthians about love wasn’t written about romantic love, but about communal love. It was a call to love our neighbors. And I then encourage those present at the wedding to take those words to heart, and live them for the couple being married. They need that love, too –love from family and friends that is patient, that is kind, that bears all things, that hopes all things. That, I tell the guests, is the greatest gift you can give newlyweds.

  • http://balancingtheledger.blogspot.com/ Joe Cleary

    I am reminded in this story that at ordination many Bishops will pointedly remind the new Deacons who are married to remember which vows they took first.

    When a father walks his daughter down the isle, no one will confuse this for officiating at the wedding. Simply, the unmistakable message conveyed is the unconditional love of a parent for a daughter.

    I don’t disagree with the need and value for some open and honest dialogue before and after the ceremony. But I would suggest to that Father he do everything to attend.

  • midwestlady

    There are 2 problems here that people don’t seem to be comprehending:
    1) The girl was raised Catholic, presumably meaning she was baptized Catholic, so what she’s doing is simulating a sacrament, which is a very serious matter. This wouldn’t be the case if she had not been baptized Catholic. It’s not the case for never-been-Catholic couple, but it is for her.
    2) Her father is preparing to be ordained, so he is already a recognized member of the Catholic clergy and is under some degree of obedience. This makes his public appearance at any religious occasion different than if he was just her father.

    This is really a terrible situation for the parents, even if the girl doesn’t really quite comprehend any of that.

    If I were in this situation and I were the father, since the daughter appears to be an adult, I would just have to let her do what she’s apparently intending on doing, and be absent from the wedding. Perhaps he could (and maybe should) show up at a private party afterward, but only if it’s clear he’s not condoning the simulation of a sacrament by doing so, and can do so only in the capacity of her parent (ie in a family-only setting, for instance).

  • midwestlady

    Believe it or not, simulating a sacrament and thereby torturing your parents is a worse sin. It breaks the law of the Church AND one of the 10 Commandments.

    “You shall honor your father and your mother.”

  • midwestlady

    No, it’s not. Because the girl is baptized Catholic if she was raised Catholic. It would be different if neither party had been baptized, or if both had been baptized as non-Catholics, but neither of those scenarios is the case.

  • midwestlady

    Yes, there are several workarounds, most of which a secular couple is not going to like.
    1. Convert and do this the right way.
    2. Get married in a small private ceremony so you don’t torture your parents.
    3. Have the wedding without your parents present.

  • Deacon Greg Kandra

    Ah yes. “Your first priority is your first vow” is something we heard often.

    And it’s something so many of us forget.

    Which is why it’s time to turn off the computer and go to bed.

  • Deacon Mike

    I am having trouble seeing the great difficulty here… This happens quite often. All that has to happen is for the bride to approach her local parish priest and get the necessary dispensation. If she did that, which is very easy, then there would be no conflict of interest for her father. A Catholic may marry a non baptized person outside of a church ceremony so long as they have the proper dispensations from the bishop. It would be a valid but non sacramental marriage. The only question is wether or not the bride would be willing to approach her parish priest and ask for the dispensations. If she did that then all is well.

  • Chris Sullivan

    Here’s the Rite for Celebrating Marriage Between a Catholic and an Unbaptized Person from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

    It’s a valid rite for a valid marriage.

    http://foryourmarriage.org/rite-for-celebrating-marriage-between-a-catholic-and-an-unbaptized-person/

    All the apparant canonical problems here appear to be able to be dispensed by the bishop.

    God Bless

  • Klaire

    I personally have been in and close to similar situations. In one case, the parents did not come to the wedding. To say it was a “division” within the family is an understatement. It’s truly one of the most bitter pills of life. In another, the parents (one being my sister) did attend, and consequently, I can tell you that there is also a “bitter-sweetness” in the guilt.

    I have agonized over this type of situation and here’s what I got from much prayer. I think like last Sunday’s Gospel, it is the ultimate call to obedience. Few are called to this kind of “test” but when we are, I think we have to recognize that despite the love of family, God calls us higher, truly where the “rubber meets the road.”

    It’s hard enough for a lay person like myself, but I can’t imagne how a deacon in formation could attend any part of the wedding and it not be a scandal.

    The loving daughter needs to understand, that despite her father’s love, his first obedience has to be to God. She also needs to know that his salvation could be at risk for attending. Agape love calls us to want the best for the one(s) we love, not the best for us.

    I absolutely do not think the father can attend.

    I try to put myself in the daugher’s shoes, as this was once the case for me in my early 20′s, save for my father being a deacon in formation. I loved my father more than life itself. This may shock some, but I couldn’t get married without my dad, consequently, I didn’t get married. Subsequently, I finally did got my gift of faith. My father died a week later.

    I often think back on the choices I made. I feel quite sure that had I gotten married outside of the faith, I would have never gone back to the Catholic Faith. As strange as it sounds, in retrospect, it was all a blessing. Had my parents “caved”, I’m quite sure not only would I probably have had a difficult marriage, but almost certainly, not my faith.

    All said, this is almost right up there with God asking us to sacrifice our firstborn son, perhaps, in the culture of which we now live, the equivalent of the test of obedience.

  • http://ad-orientem.blogspot.com Ad Orientem

    midwestlady
    On what do you base the charge of simulating a sacrament? It sounds like the daughter is quite clear that she does not consider herself Catholic and there is no pretense to this being a Catholic wedding. Most Protestants don’t hold a Catholic understanding of marriage as a sacrament. If she doesn’t hold the Catholic faith and is being married in a non-Catholic ceremony how is that simulating a Catholic sacrament? There is no simulation. There is no claim to being sacramentally married in the eyes of the Church. In other words this is not the same thing as the fake womyn-priests who actually claim to be offering mass and valid Catholic sacraments.

    I am not trying to make light of this. But let’s be careful in our choice of words and not make a bad situation more serious than it in fact is.

  • Barbara P

    God is Love

  • http://ad-orientem.blogspot.com Ad Orientem

    Chris,
    Thank you for posting that. I find it quite fascinating. This must be a fairly recent development in Roman Catholic discipline. We Orthodox frown on religiously mixed marriages but tolerate them as long as the non-Orthodox person is a Christian who has received some form of Trinitarian baptism. But no baptism = no wedding, no exceptions. There aren’t a lot of rules that can’t be covered by oikonomia, but I am pretty sure that is one of them. Kinda up there with no weddings for ordained priests and no fourth marriages.

  • http://ad-orientem.blogspot.com Ad Orientem

    Father Hayden,
    “In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis (or, dubiis) libertas, in utrisque (or, omnibus) caritas.”

    Just an FYI… Though frequently attributed to Blessed Augustine the famous quote is almost certainly Lutheran in its origins, coming from a man named Rupertus Meldenius. Meldenius employed the line in a Protestant religious tract he authored, probably not earlier than 1627. There is no antecedent record of the quote that has been discovered.

  • vox borealis

    recalling that instance, I would like to say that the angry reaction on the part of *this* reader was not directed at your attendance of your sister-in-law, but rather at what I thought (and still believe) was the appalling advice/sentiment of your deacon friend. But perhaps best to leave that old story to rest.

  • vox borealis

    Luke 14:26.

    I have little doubt that the daughter and her parent(s) share great affection (what is commonly referred to as love). And that makes this situation difficult. But then no one said that following the Christian call is—or for that matter, being an adult and making your own decisions–is easy.

    The daughter has “fallen away” from the faith and has decided of her own free will to marry a non-baptized person. That her father is in formation to be a deacon suggests that the Catholic faith has long been important to him (probably to both her parents, maybe even other members of the family). The daughter surely knows this. Surely she must also know that her own personal trajectory—the loss of faith, the likelihood any grandchildren will grow up with the faith, etc—must pain her father on some level. Yet this is the path she as an adult has chosen. Now she wants to find some way to “game” the system so that her father can walk her down the ailse. Why? Is that moment so critical? Frankly, it sounds a little selfish. She made a grown up decision, now she should accept like an adult to likely ramifications. Moreover, if she wants her father to treat her life decisions with respect, then she must respect his decisions. If “peace in the family” is the goal, then it is on her to refrain from pressuring her father into attending and participating in the ceremony.

    Likewise, her father has his decision, to become an ordained member of the Church. That brings with it a great deal of responsibility, some of which (I would argue) go beyond strict readings of canonical laws and rules. That is, they are expected to be models for the community. So, even if it is technically allowed for him to attend the wedding (I don’t know if is or not), he should still think long and hard about doing so. He made a grown up decision to become a deacon, now he too must accept as an adult the consequences.

  • deacon john

    I am struggling with the same type of thing right now. My son has rejected his faith and is being married at a reception hall by some protestant minister. It occurs to me that if I choose to not attend the wedding that I will hurt him so deeply that he will continue to reject the faith for the rest of his days. If I attend the wedding I,maintain the relationship with my son and have a much greater chance of drawing him and his wife back to the faith.
    I am afraid that for me, love must take precedent over principle….for the sake of my fmily and my son’s salvation

  • vox borealis

    But what if your attendance has the effect, through scandal, of driving others from the faith? I’m not trying to be facetious or confrontational. I raise the question because, I think, this is a real danger, and must be weighed in your decision. That is, the choice is not between principle and love—this is a false dichotomy—it is rather between important obligations as a public minister of the Church and as a father (both obligations born of love).

  • A P O’Beachain

    “Love therefore is the fulfillment of the law” as St Paul tells us. The pain of her parents not being there for her and theirs for being absent would be emotionally destructive. She knows that if they attended they would not approve of the religious aspect but would be there out of love for their daughter. Their presence would not be a scandal, their absence would cause more wonder for the current culture. She has time to consider the consequences of it later and can have the marriage “blessed” in the RC Church. I have added her and situations like this to my prayer list. At this point focusing on the sacramentality and canonical legality of the event does not address the human loving aspect of it.

  • Deacon Norb

    Like a lot of the other deacons in this blog-stream (possible exception of Dcn Greg), I am having trouble seeing the difficulty here.

    It happened to me twice. Of my seven children, two — both of whom at that time were “lazy and inactive Catholics” — decided to get married in a civil setting and both of those occurred AFTER I was ordained.

    –The first time it happened — maybe 12 years ago — I was REALLY uncomfortable about it all. My wife, my son and future daughter-in-law recognized and accepted that discomfort and basically told me that they would not be offended if I did not attend, although my wife would and did (besides, someone had to “grandpa-sit” because my father-in-law was on a 24/7 health care watch at that time). This was a simple civil ceremony in front of a local judge. Probably less than 12 folks total present.

    –About six years later, the second example happened. This time I was asked to walk my daughter down the aisle and thus would be in secular attire as the “father of the bride.” This was held in a local outdoor setting with maybe 50 people present. No big deal here one way or the other.

    BOTTOM LINE: no anger, no family hassle, and our family ties are still very strong. Both couples are still married, have close contacts with their local Catholic parishes and both families have children who attend(ed) parish schools in some way. I have no idea — and will not ask — whether they had their vows “regularized” or not. With the process of “Sanation,” I would have no reason to know.

  • Deacon Wally

    This is very interesting indeed; many comments, many suggestions. As deacons, (those that have posted) we encounter this same situation a lot when we work with couples (one Catholic, one not) who wish to celebrate their marriage within the Catholic Church. I often ask the non-Catholic how his/her family feels about all of this, and often recommend that I meet with the non-Catholic family to discuss their concerns/questions; and often they have a better understanding. Yes, this young lady may ask for a dispensation and odds are the local ordinary will give his permission; although to me it is very clear that she is no longer a practicing Catholic (that is a whole separate issue that needs to be addressed by the family as a family, and then brought to a deacon or priest for more discussion, we shouldn’t speculate on why, but we should offer prayers for understanding and forgiveness for whatever it was that is keeping her away). There is no rule or Canon that states that we cannot attend a Protestant or civil celebration; we simply cannot participate fully as they understand it. Can this father walk his daughter down the aisle, yes; but even in our Rite of Marriage, the ministers are the bride and groom and they should walk each other down the aisle as prescribed in the beginning of the ceremonial, however, this custom of having the father give the bride away simply isn’t Catholic tradition. I’m not following on what “scandal” may occur by this man being there for his daughter on her wedding day? There is no perception of scandal here, unless the father makes a profession of faith and leaves the Catholic Church, which I don’t think is the case.

  • Jake

    Dear Bride-To-Be,

    It is your wedding. The decisions are for you and your intended to make. They should be made according to your station in life. You extended a invitation to your father to participate as fathers do. You asked him to “give you away” because you want him to, not because it is your duty to have him do so. Your love for him is clear.

    It is now his decision to accept or decline. He should do so according to his station in life.

    You are family. Love should prevail — yours for your father, his for you, and yours and your intended for each other.

    You can meet him partway perhaps by agreeing to a Christian marriage. He can meet you partway by limiting his participation at the ceremony to walking you down the aisle.

    I officiated, as a Notary Public, at my daughter’s marriage. She also was raised Catholic. We asked God’s blessing. At the end of the day, after it was all over, everyone that had questioned her choice of that kind of ceremony were sorry they doubted the decision capabilities of the couple in love. No one is going to convince me I caused scandal by officiating. I feel no guilt and no one is going to lay any on me. Love prevails — it always has, and always will.

  • http://www.franpax.com Deacon Steve Przedpelski

    Assuming for the moment this young woman has talked this over with her parents, I would say to the parents go. Love your child. We never know what is ahead of us in life. To the young woman and man, somehow find a way to include your parents. Love your parents. We never know what is ahead of us in life.

  • Deacon Bob R

    All of us face many obstacles in a lifetime. As parents we bring life into this world as our children, and we raise them as best we can. But at some time our children who we have so lovingly raised become adults with (we hope) fully formed faculties and the ability to decide their faith journey for themselves. Should the children choose a path that differs from their parents (as all three of my sisters have) we can only pray for them endlessly hoping they find that the path they have taken winds its way back to the Catholic church. When they choose a path that differs from ours they are still our children, and we still love them, and we still give them our support and guidance. As a Deacon, walking my daughter down the aisle, I can only picture that God would see that my love for Him pours through to my daughter as well, regardless of the path she has chosen thus far for herself. And it may be through that outward expression of a father’s love that she may one day recognize it in herself one day.
    There are many who are married outside the Catholic church who, for countless reasons known only to God, come back to the Catholic church to have their marriage blessed and recognized in the church. We don;t turn those people away. We don;t accuse them of having lived a sinfull life in a sham of a marriage simply because it wasn’t validated in the Catholic church. We simply say, “Welcome Home.”
    And on the day that this deacon-to-be father stands face-to-face with Jesus, he will be welcomed with open and loving arms.

  • Ann

    I am not getting this dilemma. Wouldn’t he just attend her wedding and walk her down the aisle? Would he seriously consider NOT doing that?

  • Firgenholt

    “Sanation”? I know what it is but I thought a priest or deacon had to sign-off on that application. Wouldn’t you HAVE to know?

  • Deacon Noorb

    Not really.

    Both of these two and their families have settled in totally different cities in totally different dioceses. Theor parish’s priest/pastor or their parish deacon could handle it completely and we would not know about it unless they told us.

  • deacon john

    I have weighed that choice. I cannot, and will not sever the relationship with the son that I co-created with my God in order to avoid some slim chance of scandal.
    Our Lord railed against the legalism of the pharisees of his time.
    He met with, and befriended the samaritan woman, who, certainly was living in sin.
    Why? Because the salvation of souls was more important than the law!
    I have made it clear that I do not agree with my son’s choice. And if anyone should ask, I will tell them that I do not agree with that choice, and that I know that the church does not see that marriage as valid.
    I will not, however, alienate him by not attending his wedding, for surely, that will most alienate him from the church forever….on the chance that it might possibly scandalize someone else.
    Love is more important than law.

  • Paul

    My wife an I faced a similar situation 26 years ago. She was protestant at the time, and I am born and raised Catholic. My father had been in the seminary at one point.

    We were married in her church, by both her minister and a priest. We just made sure that everything that happened that day was either canonically correct or we had cononical dispensation so that our marriage would be valid in the RC Church, AND my wife was able to be married in the church she grew up in. We were able to satisfy all parties on our special day. There are solutions… just work with the church and her leaders.

    Interestingly enough, I am now in formation with the Archdiocese of Atlanta for the Permanent Diaconate. Had we not gone to the trouble we did for our marriage, I would not have been accepted as a candidate. Amazing the wonders God works in our lives when we really aren’t aware of the impact 26 years later :-)

    PAX Christi

  • anonymous

    Has anyone considered how painful this situation must be for the faithful Catholic parents? To have one’s child who has been raised in the faith reject that faith is a very heavy cross to carry. The bride is not honoring her mother and father by rejecting her faith. How can you have it both ways? As has been said in previous posts, for a baptized Catholic to get married outside the Church without a dispensation, renders the marriage invalid. If the fiance is not baptized (I’m guessing that he has no particular faith tradition), it doesn’t sound like they would even be able to be granted a dispensation. My understanding is that a dispensation can be given for a Catholic to get married in a Protestant church for the sake of ecumenical relations, etc., similarly for a Catholic marrying a Jewish person, etc. However, while certainly there are some facts missing, this does not appear to be the case here. Particularlay as a future member of the clergy, the bride’s father has an obligation to avoid anything that could cause scandal. I’m sure his faith and his formation will help him to convey to his daughter both his love for her and the truth of the faith. I hope someone has explained to this bride the importance of having God at the center of her marriage – the outcome looks bleak for a non-practicing Catholic to marry an unbeliever. I pray she will take a step back and take some time to learn about what marriage is and what it means. A very difficult and sad situation indeed.

  • http://www.gerardnadal.com Gerard Nadal

    Deacon John,

    I couldn’t agree with you more. While the Church may not regard the marriage as valid sacramentally, it is a valid marriage civilly. There is also a spiritual union at some level, and that needs to be recognized as well.

    You are right to preserve the relationship with your son, and right to say that love is more important than the law. I would however add a correction to that statement of yours. Love IS the law. Love is the source of the law and animates the law, without which the law becomes as polluted as the Pharisees who drained the law’s lifeblood of love leaving a cold and lifeless body of empty precepts over which they presided.

    Central to Marriage as a sacrament id the understanding that we are to do all that we can to help our children achieve Heaven. Will God condemn our children to eternal separation from His love because they chose honorable marriage according to the best of their understanding (albeit not sacramental)?

    I think of Jesus saying to the fathers in the crowd, “If you with all your sins know how to give your children what is good, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good things to anyone who asks?” If I with all of my sins couldn’t bear to consign my children to eternal separation for choosing a different path (at least initially) to live honorable marriage, I can’t imagine God doing so.

    There is the wedding, and then there’s the marriage. As we and our children live our marriages, we find marriage to be a crucible where our impurities and insufficiencies begin to glow white hot. That’s when the sacramental dimensionality comes into sharp relief, and either we have the grace of the sacrament to help us, or many sense the need for something more. That’s where the Catholic parent needs to be like the father waiting on the road for his prodigal son’s return.

    Like the father in the parable, the Catholic parent doesn’t berate the returning child, but kills the fatted calf for a feast. In the parable, I saw no indication that the father told his son that he was dead to him. He gave him what he wanted, knowing what would happen next, then lovingly waited for his return.

    I think that’s how we help our children achieve Heaven. Be there at the wedding. Be there for the marriage, and be ready to assist when the crucible gets white hot. We can’t do that if we alienate our children on one of the most important days of their lives.

    God Bless.

  • vox borealis

    I agree that love is more important than the law, but I still think that you sidestep my main question. Love v. Law is simply another false dichotomy that clouds the real choices that you have to make: what is more important, the love that you feel for your son or the love that you feel for the larger church community? Is the threat to the relationship with your son (by choosing one course of action) greater than the threat to the Church as a body (by choosing the course of action)?

    Framing this truly difficult decision as one of “Law v. Love” or “Principle v. Love” or “Pharisees v. Love” is, I think, just a way to make yourself feel better about the choice that you have made.

    Interestingly, this episode is, potentially, telling evidence against the married priesthood. Obviously the bonds between parent and chile (and between spouses) are extremely strong. Married priests with children *might* find themselves more often facing such dilemmas. Better, perhaps, that priests not be forced to choose between their love for child and love for the Church.

  • vox borealis

    Like the father in the parable, the Catholic parent doesn’t berate the returning child, but kills the fatted calf for a feast.

    Yes, but in this case, has the child truly returned? One could argue that the daughter not only has not returned, she demands the father to join in her prodigal behavior.

  • Deacon Jim Mc Avoy

    Having lived this situation, I chose to attend my son’s wedding. At the wedding reception, as his father, I blessed him and his lovely bride, wishing them joy and happiness upon their vows in covenant of marriage. And all enjoyed themselves at their celebration.
    In formation it was continually stressed three priorities in this order: Faith in God, Family unity, and vocation lived out in the diaconal ministry. The deacon candidate should see his daughter for what she is, his flesh and blood, a great gift from God, and an adult. He should honor her wishes, and gently suggest she seek a dispensation as noted above. Still if she persists in not having any relationship with the Church, he should graciously accept it, and participate in the wedding. It will matter greatly in the future for him to have done so. I doubt walking her down the aisle will cause a public scandal. It is a sign of his fatherly love. So I suggest that daughter and father should pray together for unity, trusting in God’s Providential help.
    Note, 7 years later, I still pray for my son and daughter-in-law to heal their disaffection with the Catholic Church, but it doesn’t stop us from having an engaging and loving relationship. God will mend all fractures and disunity in His time if we accept his healing graces (though, frustrating, it is rarely the same as our time.)

  • RomCath

    I think this issue should be addressed more fully in Diaconate formation programs. It is obviously an issue faced by many Deacons who have children who have fallen away from the Church. Ordained ministers have to be very careful about giving any indication of approval of an invalid marriage. It is a thorny issue when it involves family.

  • http://www.gerardnadal.com Gerard Nadal

    Vox,

    Most respectfully, I think the false dichotomy resides in your analysis. The deacon father is not co-officiating at the wedding of his son. He is there to support him, and I dare say that a child who embarks on matrimony outside of the Church is in more dire need of that unfailing love and support than the child who is living much closer to the heart of the Church.

    St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13 that in the end three things endure: Faith, Hope, and Love, and the greatest of these is Love.

    In your analysis you have reversed this priority, placing faith before love. I think Deacon John did it perfectly.

  • Notgiven

    Not adding anything to either of these two arguments, but once a Catholic always a Catholic…and that’s Canon Law. To break from the faith is a very serious thing and requires formal declaration.

    It’s just like those folk over in Europe who say they are de-baptizing themselves. Baptism puts an indelible mark on your soul. You can’t undo it no matter how hard you try.

  • Deacon Norb

    RomCath:

    I’d be willing to bet that in all diaconal formation classes this topic already has been “addressed more fully.” That is why far and away the deacons who responded to this blog-stream are already in broad agreement.

    Trust me, this is precisely the kind of stuff that does come up and not just once or twice. Last week-end, I was working with our current crop of Diaconal Candidates on the issue of creating Marriage Homilies — a perfect setting for these discussions. Next year, I will also likely be a mentor for their “Marriage Ceremony Practicums” and in their preparation, Senior Diocesan Officials will have already covered a lot of this.

    BTW: Our Diocesan Marriage Manual is over 300 pages long and this stuff is covered as well as tons of other areas totally outside of this blog-stream.

  • Romulus

    I am very sorry for your predicament, but believe you are rationalizing your way into a consequentialist decision.

  • Deacon Steve

    Being in formation does not make one a member of the clergy. We are not entered into the clerical state until we are ordained. While he is preparing for ordination he is still a member of the laity. He does have to be more mindful of how he approaches things because he is in formation.
    As a baptized Catholic, unless she has formally left the Church, she is still bound by canon law, which requires that she be married following the teachings of the Church.
    What can be done is that she could receive permission from the Bishop to be married outside of the Church (and technically she requires that permission to marry someone that is not baptized anyway).
    I would say that if all he is going to do is walk her up the aisle and give her away then he is probably going to be ok. He should discuss the situation with his spiritual director and with the director of formation and explain what he is going to do so they are not caught unawares if someone does say something if he does go.

  • naturgesetz

    vox borealis —
    I think the “threat to the Church as a body” is a figment of your imagination. The only “threat” is that some narrow-minded fools will take pleasure in imagining that he has committed a sin.

  • HMS

    Another take:
    One of my fellow teachers told me that when she married 20+ years ago, her father walked her down the aisle, then left the ceremony, because her husband-to-be was not a Catholic. By the way, the ceremony was held in a Catholic Church before a priest!

    Here’s the unbelievable part, from my point of view: five years later her husband converted to Catholicism. You never know.

  • http://ad-orientem.blogspot.com Ad Orientem

    Notgiven
    What you say is (from the Catholic POV) correct. But has no bearing on the charge of simulating a sacrament which is certainly not the case here.

  • FrMichael

    I had to re-read the post and original question of the bride, since it is her point of view that is being related to us, not her parents. I am less sympathetic to her than I am to her parents, since she wants to put her parents in a bad spot as a fix to a problem of her own making.
    If one of the parochial deacons were in such a situation (NB they aren’t), I would recommend that they appear at the wedding but not play a prominent role in it: walking the bride down the aisle, public reading, blessing, etc. That way they can preserve a modicum of family peace while not having to display approval. But I would back the deacon if he decided to absent himself from all the festivities.
    Some commentators have diminished the role of scandal here. Everybody parish is different, but it would certainly be a major factor with me and my parish if one of the parish clergy went to such a wedding and a deacon who took this as a “this is just fine” situation would find himself getting shipped out elsewhere as quickly as I could arrange it.

  • http://www.gerardnadal.com Gerard Nadal

    Fr. Michael,

    Fair enough. How would you deal with the Deacons who have commented here, explaining that they would or did go to their children’s weddings in order to preserve their relationship with them?

  • Fiergenholt

    Gerard: You are really sharp ! I was about to ask the same question.

    However, I do not know where he gets that “find himself (the deacon) getting shipped out elsewhere” idea. He has no control over that. The Bishop controls the placement of his deacons — just like he controls the placement of his priests. The pastor really has no say at all — unless he wants to be really obnoxious with his bishop about it.

  • RomCath

    I know a couple of deacons who have been reassigned because their pastors wanted it. They are usually assigned to the parishi n which they reside but sometimes the pastor and the deacon aren’t on the same page.

  • http://www.gerardnadal.com Gerard Nadal

    I think this is one of those natural tensions that grow up when we have a bifurcated clergy as regards marriage. Parishes may differ in their practices, as Father Michael suggests, but the parental obligations within Sacramental Marriage are universal.

    In the parable of the Prodigal Son, the son made a ghastly request. He demanded his half of the estate from the father while dear old dad was alive. Think about that for a moment. 99% of fathers would have told junior where to go, but this father gave the son what he asked for, knowing what would happen if he did.

    And we see the father waiting for the son on the road. Jesus was clearly likening God the Father to the father in the parable, and Paul tells us in Romans 2 that God will eventually let us have what we lust after, abandoning us to our own perversity.

    The deacons with children who behave as the prodigal son need only model themselves after the Father as Jesus reveals him in the parable. After all is said and done, if we cannot dissuade our adult children, we must stand aside and give them what they want, and then wait out on the road for their return.

    If some celibates can’t grasp that, then I offer this thought exercise. As fathers of a parish, do they mourn as intensely and lose endless sleep if one of their 6,000 parishioners loses their faith as the deacon does the child of his marriage? Do they worry with the same single-minded worry that the deacon does for the child of his marriage? If not, why not?

  • Deacon Norb

    RomCath
    The practice you seem to be suggesting is falling by the wayside. The bishops that I work with and those that deacon-friends of mine work with treat their deacons just like priests. They have terms for their assignments; they do NOT necessarily have to be assigned to their home parishes but wherever the bishop finds a need.

    AND, yes, they are transferred around just like priests are. The one consideration — at least my Bishop uses this criteria — is that a deacon will not be assigned to a parish where he would have to travel over thirty minutes by car to get there

    What I have seen is where priests who are uncomfortable with deacons are NOT assigned to a parish that has deacons already in service. In many areas, those priests are generally assigned to smaller parishes or “twinned-parishes” in the hinterlands since larger parishes in the cities and larger towns need all the deacons they can get.

  • Deacon Greg Kandra

    RC…

    That happens a lot — and it happens, as well, with parochial vicars who don’t get along with pastors.

    Dcn. G.

  • Deacon Greg Kandra

    In my diocese, Norb, we’re assigned for five-year terms (I’m just about up for renewal) and the bishop can determine if a deacon’s services would be better used elsewhere. There is somne flexibility in who goes where, though most deacons are assigned to their home parishes.

    Each deacon also signs a “ministerial agreement” with his pastor, in effect for two years, outlining the duties and ministries, so every one is one the same page and understands clearly what is expected. It’s almost a contract.

  • Mark

    My recently departed wife and I were faced with this with a grandson we loved dearly. He had rejected his Catholic faith and was going to be married to a girl who was not baptised. We were invited against the wishes of his mom, our daughter. She was certain we would not attend and better to not force the sitution. My grandson was certain we would come. Our daughter called to let us know and ask what we would do. We told her to allow her son to invite us and allow us to deal with the situaton.

    When we go the official invitation, we invited our grandson and his future spouse to our home for a dinner. We told them over drinks after dinner that we were honored to have been considered to come to their wedding. I asked my grandson if he respect us and our strong Catholic faith. He said it had always seemed comforting to be at our home and see us in prayer and how important faith was to our life. I asked if he had heard us in any way bash him for his choice in regard to leaving his faith even though he knew we wished he had not. He said no, that we had let him know we would be praying for his return to the Church and trusted Christ to bring him back. I asked if he has ever doubted our unconditional love for him and our respect for him. He said never.

    Greta than said that since we had this strong basis for our relationship, we asked them to respect the fact that our faith tells us that we could not attend this marriage and that it has nothing to do with them or our love for them. We would love to be invited to the reception and wanted to get a dance set up for the grandparents with the couple to show our love. We ended the evening probably closer than before it began.

    Faith should not be thrown out the door to conform to the cultures or challenges of life. But we also are called to love. My grandson and our new granddaughter have been married for 10 years and we have 4 wonderful great grandkids who we love. right after Greta’s funeral, my grandson came up to tell me that he and all his family were coming home to the church because of the lifetime witness of his grandma.

    Families need to fill their lanterns for we do not know the challenges that life brings to us and if we have filled lanterns of love and strong bonds with Chirst, even to all the hard truths we have to accept with love and obedience, we will be prepared to discuss the situation from a point of love and faith. If you have young kids, start filling those lanterns from day one not with your love, but hopefully you have become less so that you can fill them with Christ love.

    Not sure what the relationship is between these people, but it can only be resolved with love and honest discussions. The key is the daughter saying she loved her father. She should approach him with love and in the love not be testing his love by somehow measuring his attendance as if he loves her or not.

  • pagansister

    Since the bride-to-be is an adult, and as an adult, has chosen not to be married in the Catholic church, I think her decision should be respected. She isn’t a Catholic in her eyes anymore for whatever reason. From reading above posts, it seems a person is always a Catholic if they have been baptised in the Church—whether they want to be or not. Hopefully her father will attend and perhaps even give her away as I think the love between a father and daughter should be the important thing here.

  • http://redcardigan.blogspot.com/ Erin Manning

    This is beautiful, and absolutely the right way to handle things. What a lovely story, Mark!

  • http://deacon-mc187@att.net Deacon Tom McGuine

    The lady indicated she does not want to marry in the Catholic Church. As a Catholic, even though she does not practice, she must be married by a priest or deacon and two witnesses unless there is a dispensation.
    Our third son had a similar situation. I, his father a deacon and our son, his older brother, a priest, decided to marry civilly. All our children were baptized Catholic. We attended the courthouse ceremony offering our support. The marriage ended about two years later. Our son next found a beautiful non Catholic girl and she went through the RCIA program. They were married in the Catholic Church after my son received his Lack of Form from his first marriage. We now have two wonderful grandchildren and my son and daughter-in-law attend mass every weekend. My son, the priest, witnessed the exchange of vows and celebrated mass with them on their wedding day.
    Point.
    Support, support, support the couple.
    Deacon – walk your daughter down the aisle. Show her your happiness. Offer her your blessing and pray. God who hears our prayer will intercede if we have hope. He did for us.
    Deacon Tom

  • FrMichael

    Dr. Nadal:
    As I said in my response, I would respect the decision of the deacon and his wife to either go to the wedding or not go. My strong caution to them should they choose to attend would be not to provoke scandal by acting like his child’s decision vis-a-vis the Catholic Faith and getting married in a non-Catholic was perfectly a-ok.
    My only negative reaction to some of the deacons’ comments here have to do with offering their “blessing.” I assume by that word that an apostolic blessing is meant. By what right should a deacon offer such a blessing? The situation of a Catholic, even a fallen-away one, marrying outside the Catholic Church is not one that calls for God’s blessing on behalf of the Apostolic Church the deacon represents.

  • FrMichael

    Fiergenholt:

    It is true that deacons are assigned to parishes by the bishop’s mandate. I don’t have the authority as a pastor to remove them, any more than I have the authority to remove the associate pastors. However, if the actions of a priest or deacon provoke scandal and strong controversy in a parish, it’s usually not too hard to get them removed. BTW that’s true of pastors as well.

    FrMichael

  • FrMichael

    Dr. Nadal:
    I don’t see anything in my responses that contradict the example of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. I also don’t see how anything I wrote contradicts “the parental obligations within Sacramental Marriage are universal.” What exactly are you referring to in the latter sentence?

    As to your thought experiment: While I have experienced great anguish, second-guessing, and a great deal of lost sleep over the few times I know parishioners have fallen away from the Church, I cannot have the single-minded anguish of a parent if I am to remain effective as a parish priest. I will go to great lengths for one lost sheep, but with 11,000 others to pastor I cannot disintegrate emotionally over one. Parents with a finite number of children, as well as having the profound parent-child bond, obviously grieve more deeply over their wayward child than I do a lost parishioner.

    I think the basic question we are all grappling with here concerns your comment, “After all is said and done, if we cannot dissuade our adult children, we must stand aside and give them what they want, and then wait out on the road for their return.” The question as I see it is this: What constitutes waiting out on the road and what constitutes blessing the Prodigal Son’s behaviors? I am impressed by all the comments in the thread dealing with this difficult situation.

  • George Mason

    One cannot do something one knows is objectively wrong, presuming that things will work out in the end.

    I may be wrong, but I think an important question is why the person does not practice the Faith. Is it sincere and studied conviction (albeit erroneous) of someone seeking to live the truth? Or is it pure preference or just lax indifference? If the latter cases, then other Catholics should not support them in their evil actions.
    But, perhaps parents can be at the weddding in a former case.

    Nevertheless, the issue here is a clergyman seeming to give consent and blessing to what he knows to be wrong. A non-clergy father represents only himself. A clergyman father also represents the Church and her teachings whether he wants to or not. He has a graver responsibility.

  • George Mason

    You are a utilitarian consequentialist if you believe that one may do evil for the sake of good.

    How does a deacon say “support” the couple when they objectively commit a sin?
    Certainly not by encouraging the sin. I means, how do you decide which other objectively sinful actions of the couple you should or should not support?

    The only support a Catholic should give is to stand fast in the truth with love.
    It may not “feel” good, but no cross feels good.

  • naturgesetz

    At present, the father is not a clergyman.

    I wouldn’t take it for granted that the daughter is committing a sin.

  • pagansister

    So George Mason, the daughter comes in 2nd and Dad shouldn’t be a part of her wedding just because she isn’t getting married in the Catholic Church? IMO, family is first. It appears she is marrying in a Christian church—-not having a secular wedding, such as JP, or notary public etc, so why should Dad not be part of that special day? He should, as hopefully this will be the only wedding day for her- she and her Dad have a close bond—that trumps all. BTW, how is marriage in another Christian church a “sin”? There are a lot of folks living in “sin” if that is true. :o)

  • Mary Pat

    I agree with not caving. A divorced Catholic woman and my Lutheran stepson are planning to be married by a Lutheran Pastor. I know my husband’s family will shun me if I do not attend, but how can I live with myself if I just go along to get along. Maybe this is the time to stand up for my faith. I believe the only one who will understand is the bride who will respect me for not attending, because she knows what our faith about.


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