The attitude of the Church towards mixed marriages, it is feared, has not been clearly understood by some Catholics who feel that no harm could accrue to their faith from such unions, and interference of the kind approaches well nigh pettifoggery.
It is the purpose of this article to outline, as vividly as possible, the canonical and sacramental aspects of Matrimony which set forth the well-considered objections of the Church to such unwelcome marriages. Mixed marriages being, on principle, against the wisdom and ruling of the Church she is yet willing to remove the barriers in cases where sufficiently valid excuses are offered. In a matter involving the delicate and sacred affection of those contemplating Matrimony, the Church has thought it wise, to exercise her better judgment upon occasion, provided no moral wrong may result. A concession of this nature is only made after a note of warning has been sounded to those embarking upon a mixed union, and after they have been acquainted with the lurking dangers that beset the path they mean to choose.
As the Catholic Church regards marriage: as a sacrament she is naturally averse to unions with those who do not take a like view.
And when the Church places the faith of her members far above anything else that life can offer, it is not surprising that she should be loth to jeodardize it. In short, there is something undoubtedly out of tune in a mixed marriage. St. Paul, who loved to think of marriage as symbolic of Christ's union with his church, could not feel that mixed marriage could answer to this harmony. The crux of the whole matter is placed in a nut-shell by Rev.- Florian J. Haas, S.V.D. in the following excerpt:—"One can liye virtuously in a mixed marriage without violating any of God's precepts. But if a Catholic had a marriage in prospect and it was normally certain that on entering it he would lose his faith and sacrifice that of his children the union would be forbidden by divine law in the same measure as strange gods are. And the Church could no more permit Him to marry than it could allow him to break the Ten Commandments" With regard to dispensations granted in special cases the learned4 priest say:—"When a law is made by the Church it can be dispensed with by the Church. For every law cab be rescinded by its author."
The conditions under which Catholics are allowed to contract mixed marriages are definitely set forth in Canon 1061. "The Church does not dispense from the impediment of mixed religion. (i) Unless there is a grave and just reason. (ii) Unless the non-Catholic party guarantee that danger of perversion shall be removed from the Catholic and both parties promise that the children shall be baptised and reared in the Catholic religion; (iii) And unless there be a moral certainty that these promises be kept.
These promises shall, as a rule, be exacted in writing' The above clauses mark the limits of the Church's concession and state the circumstances under which assent to a mixed union may be granted. It is realized - from experience that it is often not the non-Catholic wife or husband that interferes with the execution of the latter part of the second clause above, but the relatives, who, for personal reasons, cause an infraction of the pledge. In any case, the 'onus' of preserving the pledge solely rests with the contracting parties and no blame can be imputed to external agents that have no legitimate share in the contract.
We invite the attention of Catholics to the above remarks; and to prevent their petulance from over-riding their good sense we may ask them to accept the ruling of the Church in such matters with becoming grace. It should be realized that the injunctions of a, parish priest in matrimonial matters do not emanate from his personal whim or fancy but, as the accredited spokesman of the Church he merely sets forth the canonical and sacramental reasons thereof.
We seldom forget the favours we bestow upon others let us be equally mindful of those we receive.
- Malaya Catholic Leader, March 2nd, 1935 (1935.pdf pp87)