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England: new guidelines for Christian-Muslim marriages

Catholic World News - December 20, 2012

The Christian-Muslim Forum, an organization co-chaired by Auxiliary Bishop Paul Hendricks of Southwark, has published guidelines on Christian-Muslim marriages. According to the Christian-Muslim Forum, 4.3% of English and Welsh Muslims are married to Christians, and 9.3% of Scottish Muslims are married to Christians.

The guidelines “offer valuable guidance for both priests and imams,” said Bishop Hendricks. “With an increasing number of Christian-Muslim couples entering into marriage, we also need an increased awareness of the particular pastoral support that is owed to them, which can help them and their loved ones discover their marriage as a place of dialogue, and a beneficial link between two religions.”

The guidelines call for “no forced conversion: ensure individuals are not forced or pressurised to convert in order to marry,” and “no violence: oppose all forms of violence and abuse including sexual, physical and psychological harm.”

“The majority position in Islam is that under Muslim law a Muslim woman is not allowed to marry a non-Muslim man,” the guidelines note. “Also a Muslim father married to a Jewish or Christian woman is under obligation to raise his children as Muslims.”

“In normal circumstances children benefit from feeling connected to both parents and their faith and cultural heritage,” the guidelines state. “Children of interfaith and other mixed marriages often report that their connection to two heritages is important to their sense of identity, even those who have a clear identification in a single faith.”

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  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Dec. 20, 2012 8:42 PM ET USA

    Try as I may, I cannot see how such a marriage can prosper. The Catholic partner in the marriage is at a decided disadvantage -- implied by the fact that no Muslim woman can marry a Christian -- and my impression is that few of the children will be raised Catholic. How can there ever be a true meeting of the minds, let alone of the hearts, between two so completely different perceptions of essential truths?

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