Coptic Orthodox-Catholic marriage

edited January 13 in Faith Issues
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Well, I have seen right now that the topics related to relations are not welcomed, so if you think that it is better to delete it, feel free to do this. I am sorry for not checking the rules before.
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Dear Tasbeha Community,
I have a question concerning my interfaith marriage. I am Polish and belong to the Roman Catholic Church. 3.5 years ago, I married a Coptic-Orthodox Egyptian. We are both living in Europe (I prefer to not write the details), where the Coptic-Orthodox community is quite strong. 
When we met, he had some psychical issues, saying that the life in Europe is different that he imagined; he had also problems to find friends and he felt alone. He was going to psychotherapy (started 1 month before we met). His only friends in Europe were from the Roman Catholic Church, so he was spending most time with them (different community than mine). We started to meet more often and fall in love. I didn't know him when he was depressed - he was used to saying to everyone that I enlightened his world again and that he is happy with me. He said me that if I we will want to marry one day, I should change my faith to Coptic. I answered that I love my church and I want to stay in it. So, we tried to find the solution. I attended the liturgy in the Coptic-Orthodox church, met Abounas, his parents and further family. I felt accepted and welcomed, even if they knew that I will not change my faith. Since he had some bad feelings connected to the Coptic Community, he was regularly attending the Holy Messes (and other meetings) in the Catholic Church. He was also writing a lot on his Fb against Copts, what I did not accept and asked him to stop. I tried to explain him that his identity is Coptic and he should respect the Church, because it is a holy Church. We had a lot fights about this.
Then, he asked me to marry. We were talking already with some Bishops (from both churches) and they said that this marriage is possible. My husband didn't want to marry me in the Catholic church, because His family members (quite a lot of priests...) could not attend the ceremony. I respect his family and his cultural background, so having the acceptance from the catholic bishop, I agreed to marry him in the Coptic church. My husband went with me to my Catholic priest and sign the documents, that he is aware that I should do everything to raise the children as Catholics, and that I do have an obligation to not lose my faith.
The only thing was that I should receive the Myron sacrament, what I was very afraid and I wasn't sure if it is correct for me as I am Catholic (and didn't want to change it). The Coptic bishop made me sure that it is only to let me attend the communion in both churches and that since this time I will be both "Coptic-Catholic". 
To make this story a bit more clear, I will write further only the main things in points:
1) Three weeks after the marriage, the depression came back to my husband. He started to lead the life that I was not accepting (discos, messaging girls on dating platforms, pornography, spending money on all of this).
2) The medication from the psychiatry helped a bit (were needed because he had suicidal thoughts). But whatever he did, he was used to saying that I cannot judge him because he is ill - and if I would be a good Christian I would not mention his sins (even if something was happening 1 hour before).
3) The situation was developing - sometimes hi didn't want to go to church at all through months, on other days he was fasting with water and bread only, or without eating whatever (even when taking medicines...). At the same time, I was going to the Catholic church as usual. At that point, we stopped to attend the liturgy together - he was changing the plans all the time, even when I asked to go together, next morning he was saying that he feels tired and so on).
4) We did have the discussion where to baptize our children. I stopped to believe that he will be able to grow up the children in any faith. 
5) When I was working one month abroad, he went to the disco and then to the prostitute (before we've met, he was going there several times). Everything what I heard was that it was because of depression. I still tried to save this marriage.
6) One year ago he left me - rent another room and started to live alone. He said that I am the reason of his psychical problems. Didn't want to talk to me at all. Then, after some time he said that if I will agree to baptize the children in Coptic church, he will come back. In my heart all sacraments are equal (the sacrament of marriage and the baptism of children), therefor I said OK - if it will save our marriage, I agreed. I said that at home we can keep all Coptic fasting times (as I did when we were living together), attend the liturgy together, and the children will go to the Sunday School.
7) He did not come back. Currently, he requires that I will leave my church (through the official apostasy act) to prove that I am orthodox. I had the choice - either I will become Coptic only, or he will divorce me. He is saying that if he would be psychically stable before the marriage, he would never chose me as his wife. He thinks that my personality is totally fine, but he is responsible to lead me to heaven and I am refusing to accept the Truth that is written in the Bible.
8) He is preparing the divorce documents. It looks that in the church process, he will motivate the divorce by this that I am heretic. 

For me the marriage last forever - I believe in this sacrament and that the Coptic Church is holy. At the same time, I cannot change the faith in my heart. I was talking to the Coptic Bishop and I see his love towards me. Unfortunately, it looks that the consequences of our marriage will be for me only (I do not think that someone can cancel the holy matrimony sacrament as it is written in the Bible...).
There is one guy in my husband's Coptic community who also divorced with the Catholic woman, so I think that my husband just follows him.

Sorry for such a long post, I tried to show you the whole picture. Could you maybe tell me what the Coptic Church thinks about divorces - is it ok to divorce me because I am belonging to another church? Or, do you think that our sacrament should be cancelled, because I did not respect the Myron, which converted me to the Orthodox (as my husband said). I do not have power anymore to solve this problems. I am not sure if I should agree on divorce in the court or not...


Comments

  • Hi @zielona,
    First of all, let me start off by saying that I personally am honoured that you belong to the Coptic Church (now), and I would like to tell you that you are a real asset and a blessing, and a brilliant role model to many Egyptian girls and women. Thank you for agreeing to do such things based on your true feelings of support and love to your current husband.
    I cannot comment on whether your husband will be granted divorce or not, and I'd better not speculate anything, but I would like to tell you that you should not feel guilty about any step or decision you have made. As a psychiatrist, I will say a few things - please don't misunderstand me. Probably any psychiatrist would not even have suggested this or predicted this, but in hindsight you probably should not have accepted to marry a person who is psychologically unstable. As you said, you didn't know the full details at the time, and it is not your fault you went through all what you went through to support him, but he is still unstable.
    I respect your decision of wanting to raise your children as Catholics, although I would have hoped that you commit to the Coptic Orthodox Church, talking selfishly because I admire your personality, your commitment and your principles. Not many Egyptian women nowadays are like you. However, I can understand whatever you choose. 
    I wouldn't want anyone to be divorced in a Christian marriage period. I think we are just reaping some unwanted fruits of mixing dogmas with each other, when one should stick to their faith (as you hit the nail on the head), and never compromise for the sake of marriage. I think you were right about the stance of many people on this forum, which I admire a lot too and have learnt a lot from, but I guess life is much more complicated than mere words on an internet forum. I don't know what to say except that we ought to pray for your family not to be harmed in anyway, and prayer works miractles. However wrong this man is, you are trying to save your marriage, and you are truly to be commended and applauded for that, something he is indifferent to, and probably even very negative. I am disappointed in him, and I do not think this is helping you, especially that I am a psychiatrist but I too have emotions and cannot hide them. Let's pray and God will do the best, and I am sure He will not want this marriage to end like that.. let's just pray that the evil one doesn't find its way, as it usually does..
    Oujai qen p[c
  • @zielona

    Peace and Grace, Sister.
    My prayers are with you. I pray the Virgin Saint Mary and Saint Pope Kyrillos and all the Saints intercede for You and come to your aid and reveal what is most beneficial for your both life everlasting and temporal. May God intervene.
  • edited January 14
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  • Dear @ophadece and Jojo_Hanna! Thank you for your prayers, I appreciate this! It is indeed the only way to find the proper solution to the whole situation. The Virgin Saint Mary is my beloved Mum, I feel her care all the time:)

    @ophadece, thank you for your comments as the psychiatrist! I like that you did not damn my husband, because in the reality he is a sensitive and good boy, just for some reasons (mainly his childhood experiences) he covers under a shell. I know that because of some facts he cannot forget about his past and he tries to prove that he is better. The world for him is black-white, there are not any colors in-between. That's why when he sees his life, once he tries to behave like the best Copt in the world, then when he fails small thing, he loses his whole motivation and forgets about all his values. Unfortunately, the wife attending the liturgy in the Catholic church does not fit into the perfect "white" picture.

    Maybe I expressed it wrong in my point 6 (sorry for my poor English...), but last year I agreed to baptize our prospective children in the Coptic Church. I am aware that my spouse is not the best example of a real faithful orthodox man, however, I need to admit that I found in the Coptic Orthodox Church a lot of good people, with perfect understanding of theology and building the beautiful relation with Jesus. Of course, I love the Catholic Church and I admire going to the Holy Mass even every day before or after my work (as it is much shorter than in the Coptic church..) and we are praying in the language that I know. 

    However, I understand that the children should not be confused and it is better for them to grow up in one church. Their situation would be slightly different than mine - they would be baptized in the Coptic Orthodox, attending the liturgy and Sunday School there. I hope that they could learn Arabic to understand the homily (sorry if it is not the correct word...) and the teaching. Here, where we are living, the church communicates mostly in Arabic, not in the local language, so since I do not know Arabic well, I can barely understand some priests. 

    My husband cannot imagine that we could live together like this. He became very strict with all people which have another opinion. I am a bit afraid that his mind will change soon again - but the family and sacraments are not the game that I would like to play. In the end, he does not understand that not he as my husband should save me, but Jesus. I love my husband and I can understand his dreams to have a spouse in the same church. However, since we are already married, we are not in the phase of choosing the spouse, but of building the family. His perspective is different and he believes that based on his psychical issues and my heretical doctrine, the marriage should be canceled. 

    I know that in the long term, it will be impossible to build a family with such unsolved problems that we have right now. I trust in our Lord and believe that He can change everything. I pray that He will heal my husband and let him find happiness. I do not know if it will be with me by his side, but it is not the most important. 
  • dear sister,
    i am sorry to hear of all your trouble. i will send you a personal message, as this is a personal issue, but i will make a few public comments here.
    i joined the orthodox church from a protestant Christian background (since early childhood).
    i have been an orthodox Christian 13 years, and love to get close to God through the prayers, fasting, liturgies and celebrations.
    on my journey, i also attended some catholic churches as well, and agree with about 95% of what catholics believe.
    i don't believe that the roman patriarch should be senior to the patriarchs of the other churches, for example. i view the roman patriarch (pope) as equal to the coptic one (also called pope) and the eastern orthodox ones. i believe the orthodox theology explains things the best.

    so that is my background / bias, so you know where i am coming from.
    i am also in europe (uk) and i understand that in many european countries the immigrant Christians are not always great at translating things into the local language, and sometimes they rely on a 3rd language for communicating, like english or french for example.
    i apologise on their behalf that they are not always as welcoming to new people as they should be.

    the main thing i want to say publically is this:
    don't think that this issue as about a fight between 1 church and another.
    it is not.
    it is the enemy (devil) trying to make some people think that their church 'has God' and the other is 'heretical'.
    this way, only the enemy wins when the Christians fight each other.

    the Christian response is with humility (i know i know God but maybe you know him too) and with care.
    if you really care for someone, you won't encourage him to behave in an abusive way (to you, for example), because this would encourage him to get further away from God.
    certainly we get further away from God when we behave agressively towards other people.
    so you are doing nothing wrong by respecting yourself (as God does) and by asking your separated husband to allow you to attend church where you like.

    well done for asking for help, this is a real sign of humility and my friends above (one a computer friend, the other i have met inreal life) and i respect you and are praying for you.

    may God give you His eternal peace as He guides you through this difficult time
  • Dear @zielona,
    Once again I find myself repeating myself and saying that you are a really great example for many women, let alone Egyptian women, and the Coptic Church is so lucky to have you as a member in Her. And no, I could never damn your husband, because I mseylf count me as a black and white person, and many Egyptians are like that. It just becomes more and more difficult when those persons (I hope my wife agrees with me) never change their position to admit that they are wrong in some views, or for the sake of finding a compromise. Something that I see yourself trying and wanting to do more than him - that proves to me how mature you are, and how level-headed you are. Again, I am in no position to judge him, and I never want to be judgmental.
    One thing I would like to personally commend you on, is having baptised your kids in the Coptic Church. You may call it selfish of me again (and it may actually be considering the points that @mabsoota had rightly made), but I do view Sunday School in the Coptic Church as a blessing. I am satisfied also with the Coptic Liturgy; I do not get "satisfied" or "enriched" in other churches unfortunately, but that is only me - I don't know about your kids; I won't be surprised if they feel differently, but Sunday School is going to help them grow in the Christian faith definitely. 
    One last point I would like to make - I cannot agree more with what you said, that your Saviour is Christ and not your husband, and if you feel that the relationship with him is dragging you away from Christ (which I hope not to that extent) then you need some serious talk with your church fathers. Please remember, that marriage is a very holy sacrament, and I mean "very holy" and that is why I would like to repeat once again that I am reassured by all your efforts trying to save this marriage and be a good Christian woman in God's eyes. I hope your efforts pay off, and I hope he changes, but I cannot comment any further, and again and again no one could ever predict, but all human beings change - they change with time; in their views, beliefs, mental states, and I pray that he will change for the better and be more positive about your relationship together sooner rather than later. You too please pray for me and my family..
    Oujai qen p[c
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