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Still Interested Irene wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am a 19-year-old Catholic girl from Sweden. I recently started studying theology at a university where I met a guy. He is very nice and has a strong faith. Two years ago he was in a Catholic seminary but left and about four months ago, he left the Catholic Church and became an Orthodox. He is truly seeking to find God and says he has fully done that in the Orthodox church. (He is absolutely not against Catholics; he respects our Church and sees us as his brothers.)

In previous weeks, we have been dating but have not yet talked about the differences in our beliefs.

  • What should I do and what should I tell him?

Many of my Catholic friends told me to be very careful since this guy knows a lot, both about Catholics and Orthodoxs, and that he might convince me to convert some day.

  • Is it wise to keep dating him?

I am not at all thinking about leaving the Catholic Church.

  • Is it wrong for me to go to one of his Masses?

I see it only as a way of knowing more about his church, and maybe I could help him come back. If he listens to me, I feel I should also listen to him.

  • Finally, how does the Church view a person who has been a serious Catholic and then leaves the Church?

I know it's a sin and people have even told me it's a grave sin.

  • What's the most important thing I can do for this guy?

Best regards,

Irene

  { Should I date a fallen-away Catholic who is now an Orthodox and is it OK to go to his Masses? }

Bob replied:

Irene,

Your friend is a schismatic, and can also be called a heretic.

At some point he is rejecting one or more of the Catholic teachings and authority. It is not difficult to imagine how attractive the constancy and tradition of the Orthodox faith is right now, particularly under this current Papacy which is causing terrible confusion and even scandal among Catholics and others. In some measure I get it, but he is simply wrong.

We Catholics:

  • have the biggest sinners and saints
  • a messed up Novus Ordo liturgy in most places
  • a questionable Pontiff, and
  • enough scandals to drive anyone away

but this is still the Church that Christ founded, built on St. Peter, with His successors carrying the keys.

Orthodox Christians are even more adamant about spouses converting to their faith. If you pursue a relationship with him, he will likely try to take you with him. That would tempt you to become a schismatic too. Don't do it. Leaving the Church, with full knowledge that it is Christ's Church, is tantamount to denying Him, hence is a mortal sin which deprives the soul of sanctifying grace. Yes, it is damnable.

Christ prayed for unity so, we need to pull others in, not let them pull us out. If you want to try and pull him in, bring him to a Latin Mass (which will be void of the abuses of the Novus Ordo that may be part of the reason he left). Do some homework on the errors of the Orthodox in theology and ecclesiology (so you can give a sound reason for your Catholicism), and you may be able to have a fighting chance; short of that, I wouldn't pursue it — There are other Catholic men who would keep your family together.

Look up Dr. Taylor Marshall and the new St. Thomas Institute for Apologetic resources on some of those issues.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

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