“We realize that this is a major pastoral issue,” says Sheila Garcia, associate director of the U. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth.
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Before Juliann Richards met Neal Levy, she didn’t doubt that she’d marry a fellow Catholic someday.
After all, Richards was raised Catholic, attended Catholic school, grew up mostly around fellow Catholics, and knew she wanted her children raised with the same faith.
“For many years, I told myself (and others) that I was going to the nearby Catholic college so I could meet a nice Catholic boy and get married,” Richards recalls.
But when she met Levy—who is Jewish—the two quickly became friends and eventually started dating.
Before the revision, the non-Catholic party had to sign a document saying they agreed that their children would be raised Catholic.
Post-revision, the Catholic spouse pledges to maintain his or her faith and “to do all in her or his power so that all offspring are baptized and brought up in the Catholic Church.” The non-Catholic is informed of that pledge.
“We’ve changed quite a bit of stuff since Vatican II,” says Claretian Father Greg Kenny.
Fast-forward several years: Richards and Levy, both 27, are newlyweds who married in a Jewish-Catholic ceremony.
Such marriages—interfaith (between a Catholic and a non-Christian) and interchurch (between a Catholic and another Christian)—have been on the rise for the past 30 years.
In fact, a 2007 survey on marriage by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) revealed that marrying another Catholic is a low priority for young Catholics.
Of never-married Catholics, only 7 percent said it was “very important” to marry someone of the same faith.