Q: I have a question about the church membership of an adult convert to Catholicism.
My grandparents were Greek Melchite Catholics. Their son, my father, drifted away from Catholicism, married a protestant woman, and began attending protestant services.
I was raised and baptized in a protestant church. When I went to college, I felt called to become Catholic. The pastor investigated my protestant baptism, and concluded that because it did not use the Trinitarian formula it was invalid. So I was baptized at the Easter Vigil.
A month later, I was talking to both my pastor and a Greek Melchite Catholic priest visiting from my grandparents’ hometown. I mentioned my grandparents and said that they are, in fact, Greek Melchite Catholics, though I myself was raised protestant. Hearing this, the visiting priest suggested that I am actually a member of the Melchite Greek Catholic Church, because church membership is inherited through the male line.
My pastor says that’s not possible and explains that I was just baptized at the Easter Vigil. The visiting priest replies that the child of an Eastern Catholic is always an Eastern Catholic, and if I really want to be a Latin Catholic, I have to write a letter to Rome.
But the pastor argued that my father’s failure to raise me as any kind of Catholic or have me validly baptized broke the chain of membership and left me free to join a new church. Both priests say that I can attend Mass wherever I want, but my actual church membership will be significant for marrying or having children. Each priest, though, believes his position is the correct one. Which is right? –Abe Continue reading