An old friend, who has since gone to glory, used to encourage her children to date only Catholics. When you only date Catholics, you won’t fall in love with a non-Catholic and marry him/her, she reasoned. She and her husband, who totally agreed, also sent their children to Catholic schools K-university to tilt the odds even more favorably to Catholic nuptials. They succeeded in two out of three.
Her view seems a bit old-school these days, but she probably was on to something. Her daughter who married a non-Catholic had three children, all raised Catholic. Her granddaughter followed in her mother’s footsteps and married a non-Catholic. The husband was an evangelical, and, to keep the peace, both became mainline Protestants. I’m sure my old friend rolled over in her grave when that happened.
Mixed marriages — Catholic and non-Catholic — have been happening ever since the Great Schism and certainly since the Reformation. We’ve been fretting about it for centuries. One of the safeguards to keep mayhem at bay was to get the mixed-marriage couple to promise to raise the children Catholic, but that didn’t always work. Today there are so many mixed marriages, that no one knows exactly how many there truly are.
By the way, I am not in any way opposed to mixed marriages. My brothers and I are products of one, and one brother followed in our parents’ footsteps. Twice.
Catholics aren’t the only ones who worry about this. This year, mixed marriages was a big topic in Jewish circles. Though there are different issues in marriages between Jews and non-Jews from Catholic and non-Catholics, many of the issues are the same: religious practice in the household, raising of children, loss of culture and many others. Many rabbis simply won’t perform mixed weddings.
I don’t know of any Catholic priests or deacons who won’t preside at mixed weddings, but I don’t know of any who don’t get the engaged mixed couple to take a hard look at the issues before they take the walk to the altar.
Edgar M. Bronfman, president of the Samuel Bronfman Foundation and a former president of the World Jewish Congress, has written a thoughtful piece in The Jewish Daily’s Forward about mixed marriages. He makes the point that Jews’ strategy should be less about prohibiting mixed marriages and more about making Judaism relevant to young people.
Not bad advice for Catholics either.
What are your thoughts on mixed marriages today?