By FATHER KENNETH DOYLE
Question: My boyfriend and I are starting to have conversations about marriage. I am a Catholic; he is a Baptist. I have not felt called to have children and have health issues that will make it difficult to get pregnant. My boyfriend is not primarily interested in having kids.
I know that to be married in the Catholic Church, couples are expected to be open to having children. Is it possible to get married in the church if you're not open to having kids? (City and state withheld)
Answer: Your understanding of the church's view of marriage is correct. If a couple enters into marriage consciously intending never to have children, that would make the marriage, in the church's eyes, invalid.
For the church, being open to children is an essential part of what marriage is, and this is reflected in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
"The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring" (No. 1601).
This understanding is written right into the ritual of the marriage ceremony itself, where the priest asks the couple, "Are you prepared to accept children lovingly from God and to bring them up according to the law of Christ and his church?"
Why not talk over your situation with a priest whom you know? It may be that you are more open to the possibility of children than you might think.
Your preference, and that of your husband-to-be, may well be that you not get pregnant, especially given your health issues.
But if you did become pregnant, would you be willing to carry that child to term and be blessed with a new gift from God?
Questions may be sent to Father Kenneth Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org and 30 Columbia Circle Dr., Albany, New York 12203.