Sunday, May 16, 2004

Encouraging Divisiveness

I came across this news story this weekend and I just thought it was terrible.

Vatican officials, in an official church document released Friday, discouraged marriage between Catholics and Muslims -- especially Catholic women and Muslim men.

When "a Catholic woman and a Muslim wish to marry," the document says, "bitter experience teaches us that a particularly careful and in-depth preparation is called for."

With the current world situation, I am forced to wonder why the Catholic Church would make an official statement that would help to drive a bigger wedge between Christianity and Islam than already exists. Aren't there enough problems with relations between the two religions? This kind of sentiment will only widen the gap and worsen already trying relations. The implications of this statement sadden me. We need to encourage tolerance and unity. We need to celebrate the similarities rather than dwell on the differences.


Travis said...

[Imported comment* originally authored by czarina .] Although you and I often share similar POV on many political and religious issues, I believe the Catholic Church's statement was in keeping with their belief system, and, further, a _responsible_ thing to do. Too often women from western cultures meet Muslim men out of context (i.e., while the men are blending into western cultural norms) and are mislead into believing their relationship will be atypical, that she will be cherished according to western relationship expectations, only to be surprised at his attitude change when they go to meet his family in a repressive culture.
I think _someone_ needs to be making it clear to trusting women what they should expect if they marry into this radically different culture. I'm especially glad that the Church is forthrightly advising women to "avoid signing Islamic documents or swearing oaths, including the shahada" (quoting from the article).
Women marrying Muslim men are blindly signing legally binding documents giving up rights to their own future children. (And they're not stupid women, just women in love -- my own friend who's signed such a doc has a PhD.) Before this official statement, there have only been anecdotal stories propagated through Lifetime TV movies and TV news magazine shows like 60 minutes. If it takes an official Church statement of this type to keep women from resigning their rights, there should be more official statements.

Travis said...

[Imported comment* originally authored by Travis.] Although I agree with what you say on some levels, I do not entirely agree. Yes, they need to be wary of documents. The same is true of Protestants and Catholics. My Protestant sister married a Catholic man. They wanted the blessing of the Catholic Church, but decided against it because they had to agree to raise their children Catholic. We need to be careful not to over-generalize. There are some fundamentalist Muslims, yes, but there are other more liberal Muslims. My cousin was raised Catholic then converted to Islam of her own volition. She is now happily married to a Muslim man. I don't think it is fair to make assumptions about all Catholics, either. There is a broad spectrum of Catholic beliefs. For example, there's Mel Gibson, there's Opus Dei, and there are pro-choice, pro-birth control Catholics like John Kerry. My fear is that the message from the Vatican will be interpreted as a generalization and will serve to further divide Christians and Muslims. That's what I meant when I said that I fear the implications of the statement.