UK: Guidelines launched for Interreligious Marriage
(Vatican Radio) New guidelines for the increasing number of interreligious marriages
in the UK have been launched by the Christian-Muslim forum. Bishop Paul Hendricks,
Auxiliary Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Southwark, and Co-Chair of the Christian-Muslim
Forum, welcomed the new guidelines, saying that “they offer valuable guidance for
both priests and imams. 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”.
guidelines are based on the advice of Christians and Muslims who have many years’
experience in working pastorally with mixed-faith couples. They urge ministers of
religion to be welcoming of interreligious couples, and to give them the care they
need at such an important time in their lives, stressing that great respect is needed
for the religious freedom of each partner, and of their families.
representatives were present at the launch, alongside the Director of the Christian-Muslim
Forum, Julian Bond. He called this area of work “difficult but important […] for inter
faith dialogue, cooperation and conflict resolution”. He stressed the value “of experience
in dialogue and shared reflection on a range of issues” that the Christian-Muslim
Forum has built up over the years.
The Catholic Church makes provisions for
interreligious marriages between a Catholic and a non-baptised person. Muslim-Catholic
couples should seek the advice of the local priest, who will be able to help and advise
them. The coordinators for marriage and family life ministry of the dioceses can also
offer assistance. Their contacts can be found at: The Catholic Bishops’ Conference
of England and Wales’ teaching document on interreligious dialogue “Meeting God in
Friend and Stranger. Fostering respect and mutual understanding between the religions”
looks at the area of interreligious marriage and says that, with all its challenges,
“interreligious marriage can offer opportunities for deepening faith and for cultural
enrichment” and goes on to say that “the beliefs and religious practices of the partner
who is not Christian must be treated with proper respect, and given every possible
consideration consistent with Catholic faith and teaching”.