Dating people of different faiths

Theologican Robert Hater, author of the 2006 book, “When a Catholic Marries a Non-Catholic,” writes: “To regard mixed religion marriages negatively does them a disservice.

They are holy covenants and must be treated as such.” A marriage can be regarded at two levels – whether it is valid in the eyes of the church and whether it is a sacrament.

“Their marriage is rooted in the Christian faith through their baptism,” Hater explains.

In cases where a Catholic is marrying someone who is not a baptized Christian – known as a marriage with disparity of cult – “the church exercises more caution,” Hater says.

If children are raised in another faith, he notes, “the Catholic parent must show children good example, affirm the core beliefs of both parents’ religious traditions, make them aware of Catholic beliefs and practices and support the children in the faith they practice.” The Wedding Ceremony Because Catholics regard marriage as a sacred event, the church prefers that ecumenical interfaith couples marry in a Catholic church, preferably the Catholic party’s parish church.

If they wish to marry elsewhere, they must get permission from the local bishop. This permission is called a “dispensation from canonical form.” Without it, a wedding not held in a Catholic church is not considered valid.

The rate of ecumenical marriages (a Catholic marrying a baptized non-Catholic) and interfaith marriages (a Catholic marrying an non-baptized non-Christian) varies by region. Because of the challenges that arise when a Catholic marries someone of a different religion, the church doesn’t encourage the practice, but it does try to support ecumenical and interfaith couples and help them prepare to meet those challenges with a spirit of holiness.This provision of the 1983 Code of Canon Law is a change from the 1917 version, which required an absolute promise to have the children raised Catholic.Likewise, the non-Catholic spouse is no longer required to promise to take an active role in raising the children in the Catholic faith, but instead “to be informed at an appropriate time of these promises which the Catholic party has to make, so that it is clear that the other party is truly aware of the promise and obligation of the Catholic party,” the code states.The marriage may be legal, he notes, but is it a wise choice?Those are questions that may also need to be explored in marriage preparation.

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