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“Ask a Priest: What If My Beau and I Are at a Standoff Over Religion?”
Q: I am 77 and Protestant. My friend is 82, a widower and a devout Catholic. We are discussing marriage, but from the beginning of our relationship of nearly two years, he states that we are not on the same page because I am not Catholic. He states we cannot move forward until I convert. I don’t have any problem attending his church. He won’t attend a Protestant church. I do not see any reason to convert. I don’t want to be forced into being a false Catholic just to please him. He is unwilling to open his mind to the Protestant church belief, stating that the Catholic religion is the only true one, and Martin Luther was wrong. I have suggested he talk to his priest but he delays. We have another issue in that he would prefer, after marriage, that I move into his home and accept it as his wife left it. I realize that he is still grieving even though he has opened his heart to me as has his family. It seems to me that our relationship cannot move forward in spite of the fact that we are good for each other and have no other issues. I would appreciate your comments. – R.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: It’s good that you and your friend are open and honest with each other about your beliefs.
At your respective ages, you are understandably set in your ways, and it would likely take a miracle to change things. It is Our Lord who converts hearts, not potential spouses.
As you realize, there is no real value in faking a conversion to the Catholic faith. You should follow your conscience about what you profess, and let your friend know frankly why you don’t intend to convert.
From what you describe, I don’t see any reconciliation of differences coming anytime soon.
Perhaps you and your friend could commit to intensifying your prayer life. Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. Then, give yourselves a deadline.
If, say, within six months or so neither of you budges on your core opinions, it might be better to break off the relationship. Perhaps you could agree to remain friends, nothing more.
That might help clear the air, without anyone feeling compromised. And there is something to be said about friendship. In this sense you and he can continue to benefit each other. Count on my prayers.
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