June 20, 2014

Church’s blessing shared across different cultures, religions

By John Shaughnessy

As communities increasingly become more diverse, the opportunities for love and marriage across different cultures and faith backgrounds naturally increase, too.

It’s a reality that the Catholic Church recognizes when Catholics prepare to marry a person who isn’t Catholic or Christian.

“Sometimes, a Catholic might marry somebody from another religion all together, a non-Christian religion,” says Father Patrick Beidelman, executive director of the archdiocese’s Secretariat for Spiritual Life and Worship. “A Catholic and someone who is Jewish. A Catholic and someone who is Muslim. Or a Catholic and someone who is Buddhist.

“Those marriages can be permitted if it’s been established that a couple is well prepared, mature enough and aware enough of the challenges of being from two different faith families.

“And then, particularly because couples usually get married in the bride’s house of faith, the Catholic party could receive permission to not follow the Catholic form—the Catholic ritual of prayer and wording that establishes that bond, that contract of marriage before God and with the Church’s blessing.

“In a sense, it allows the marriage to happen in another place, but with the [Church’s] blessing from afar, with the recognition of the Church.”

The most prevalent situation for a Catholic to receive permission to not marry in a Catholic church occurs when a Catholic is marrying a Christian of another denomination, Father Beidelman says.

“Typically, when the bride is not Catholic but from another Christian tradition, the couple will seek permission to not be married according to the Catholic form of marriage but rather in the form of marriage in that non-Catholic partner’s Christian tradition. These are the cases we see most often.” †

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