Guidelines for Christian-Muslim marriages needed in UK

The increasing number of Christian-Muslim marriages in the United Kingdom has prompted new guidelines for both priests and imams in these inter-faith situations.

Launched by the Christian-Muslim Forum, the guidelines are based on the advice of people of both faiths with 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. They stress that great respect is needed for the religious freedom of each partner, and of their families.

Auxiliary Bishop Paul Hendricks of the Catholic diocese of Southwark, and co-chair of the forum, welcomed the new guidelines, called When Two Faiths Meet.

“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,” he said.

Among the principles spelt out in the guidelines are: No forced conversion; no violence; prioritise welfare of children and encourage family relationships; and keep the full ethical context of both partners in mind when dealing with an inter-faith couple.

The forum encourages Christian and Muslim scholars to revisit their theology and contextualise how each faith deals with spouses or children of other faiths.

It also asks both faith communities to create safe spaces in their congregations, share common values, and invite other faiths to observe, or share, in religious ceremonies, as appropriate.

A survey of eight Catholic dioceses in England and Wales indicated that 16 per cent of Catholics who married in 2010 did so with someone from a non-Christian religion.

Sources:

Independent Catholic News

Christian-Muslim Forum

Image: IslamicAnswers

News category: World.

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