Sunday, December 29, 2013

Is it ok for a Catholic to date a person of another religion?

A pair of wedding rings (Wikipedia)
A pair of wedding rings (Wikipedia)
Question: I read in Rappler an article entiled, My BF and I have different religions:
We are very happy and seriously in love with each other. The thing is, we're not in the same religion or faith in God. We don't get along well on this, but we respect each other's beliefs. He doesn't want to be converted to my religion. He stands on what he believes and I've accepted that already.

This will be a very difficult married life.  The letter sender already noticed that they don't get along well regarding religion.  This conflict will be amplified during married life, especially when children enter the picture. If you are Catholic, you may wish to read what the Canon Law of the Church  says about mixed marriages.  There is a wisdom in this law for many practical reasons.  I'll present first the practical reasons, then the laws of the Church.

Related Post: Catholic dating tips: Lessons from a strip-tease dancer

Marriage: Catholic Or Mixed - Protestant and Catholic Relations Frankly Discussed
A. Practical Reasons Against Mixed Marriages

If you decide to get married, there are many things both parties have to agree together with their families. Let us assume that one of the party is a Catholic.

  • If the other party is an Iglesia ni Cristo, then the marriage cannot happen unless it is in an INC chapel by an INC minister.  Since mixed marriages are not allowed by INC, then the non-INC party must convert before the marriage to take place.  
  • If the other party is Muslim, then it is also expected that the other party must convert to Islam before marriage.
  • If the other party is Protestant, there may still be a possibility of mixed marriages, especially if the other also believes in the Dogma of the Blessed Trinity.  But there is still 500 years of Protestant animosity against the Catholic religion which always stands in the way.
So we can now reduce the available options to a Catholic marrying a Protestant.  Will the marriage be according to a Protestant rite or to a Catholic rite?  This will already divide the families, since some may not come to chapels of other faiths.  After marriage, the couple will have their first child.  Will the child be baptized a few days after birth or after he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior which may be in his teens?  This is another debate. During Sundays, where will the child go: to a Protestant Church or to a Catholic Church?  The new family is already divided here. At home, what Bible will be used: a Catholic Bible or a Protestant Bible with several books less?  Will the pictures of the the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary be placed at the walls?  How about the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes?  How about the prayer before the crucifix.  Before meals, will the family make the sign of the cross?  All these may be trivial for those who do not take their Faith seriously.  But for those who do so, these seemingly little differences eats up whatever love the couple has for each other until there is only hatred in the hearts and remorse for the for the marriage that happened.  Indeed, the only way for marriage to remain intact is to convert the other spouse, and this is what many have done. The other possible result, however, is that the couple and their children become indifferent to religion--either all religions are equal or all religions do not matter--which are equally disastrous.

Canon Law of Marriage and the Family
Canon Law of Marriage and the Family
B. Canon Law of the Catholic Church Regarding Mixed Marriages

If one of the party is Catholic, he or she is governed by the Canon Law of the Church:
Can. 1005 §2. For this reason, a valid matrimonial contract cannot exist between the baptized without it being by that fact a sacrament.
Can. 1086 §1. A marriage between two persons, one of whom has been baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it and has not defected from it by a formal act and the other of whom is not baptized, is invalid.
Can. 1108 §1. Only those marriages are valid which are contracted before the local ordinary, pastor, or a priest or deacon delegated by either of them, who assist, and before two witnesses according to the rules expressed in the following canons and without prejudice to the exceptions mentioned in cann. ⇒ 144, ⇒ 1112, §1, ⇒ 1116, and ⇒ 1127, §§1-2. 
Can. 1118 §1. A marriage between Catholics or between a Catholic party and a non-Catholic baptized party is to be celebrated in a parish church. It can be celebrated in another church or oratory with the permission of the local ordinary or pastor. 
Can. 1119 Outside the case of necessity, the rites prescribed in the liturgical books approved by the Church or received by legitimate customs are to be observed in the celebration of a marriage.
Can. 1005 and 1086 state that if one of the of the party is unbaptized in the Trinitarian sense as understood by the Catholic Church, then the two parties are forbidden to marry in the Catholic Church.  In other words, if one of the parties is Muslim or Iglesia ni Cristo, then the marriage is forbidden because these two religions do not believe in the divinity of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Can. 1108, 1118, and 119 state that the marriage ceremony cannot be performed by a non-Catholic minister or using a non-Catholic rite or in a place not approved by the local bishop.
The Invalid Marriage
The Invalid Marriage

But mixed marriages between a Catholic and a  non-Catholic do happen, and the Code of Canon Law stipulates that the local bishop can grant permission if there is a just and reasonable cause.  The following reasons are necessary for the mixed marriage to be permitted (Can. 1125):
  1. The Catholic party is to declare that he or she is prepared to remove dangers of defecting from the faith and is to make a sincere promise to do all in his or her power so that all offspring are baptized and brought up in the Catholic Church; 
  2. The other party is to be informed at an appropriate time about the promises which the Catholic party is to make, in such a way that it is certain that he or she is truly aware of the promise and obligation of the Catholic party; 
  3. Both parties are to be instructed about the purposes and essential properties of marriage which neither of the contracting parties is to exclude.
Articles 1 and 2 state that the mixed marriage will only be allowed if there is an assurance that the children will be raised Catholic and that the Catholic party will not convert to the religion of his wife or husband. If either the Catholic or non-Catholic party does not accept these stipulations of the Code of Canon Law, then it is best that they separate ways and not pursue marriage.

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