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The Catholic Church used to require those who were not Catholic to sign a document promising that the children would be raised Catholic.

This was true also when Catholics married other Christians. Canon Law today requires that the Catholic parties promise that they will not give up their faith due to the marriage and that they will do "what is in their power" to share the Catholic faith with their children.

It may seem disconcerting, but could it not also be a call to greater religious harmony? I would like to offer a few points for reflection based on my 30 years of experience as a priest who has been involved in many interfaith weddings.

These points don't exhaust the issues, but do illustrate some of the areas that need to be addressed. All decisions about ceremony and children need to take second place to the love relationship of the couple.

The Church recognizes that there may be cases in which the children will be raised in another faith. It is always a greater challenge when both parties are well connected to their faith.

In some of these situations, when no possible agreement can be reached as to the children's religion, it may even be best if the marriage is postponed or even rethought. Not too long ago, it was very uncommon for people to marry outside of their religion. In fact, there was a time when even a marriage between an Irish Catholic and an Italian Catholic was frowned upon. Today it is very common to find our children wanting to marry someone of a different faith."When people of radically different yet connected traditions marry, perhaps they are imaging a new way of viewing life.Unfortunately, they don't appreciate how these matters may crop up later to present very difficult challenges.For example, many people begin to rediscover the importance of a faith tradition when they start having children. The wedding ceremony, which in some ways is less important than the issue of children, should reflect the traditions of both because both are involved.Whatever tradition children are raised in, hopefully they would be exposed to the other faith and share to some extent in the rituals of that tradition.

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