Topics: Tapestry from CBC Radio
Until recent decades, the idea of a Catholic marrying outside the faith was practically unheard of, if not taboo. Such weddings took place in private ceremonies in the parish rectory, not in a church sanctuary in front of hundreds of friends and family.
These days, many people marry across religious lines. 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. In areas of the U.S. with proportionately fewer Catholics, as many as 40% of married Catholics may be in ecumenical or interfaith marriages.
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. 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.”