particular attention on the part of couples and their pastors. A case of
disparity of cult
(between a Catholic and a non-baptized
person) requires even greater circumspection.
Difference of confession between the spouses does not constitute
an insurmountable obstacle for marriage, when they succeed in placing in
common what they have received from their respective communities, and
learn from each other the way in which each lives in fidelity to Christ. But
the difficulties of mixed marriages must not be underestimated. They arise
from the fact that the separation of Christians has not yet been overcome.
The spouses risk experiencing the tragedy of Christian disunity even in
the heart of their own home. Disparity of cult can further aggravate these
difficulties. Differences about faith and the very notion of marriage, but
also different religious mentalities, can become sources of tension in
marriage, especially as regards the education of children. The temptation
to religious indifference can then arise.
According to the law in force in the Latin Church, a mixed
marriage needs for liceity the
of ecclesiastical author-
In case of disparity of cult an
from this impedi
ment is required for the validity of the marriage.
This permission or
dispensation presupposes that both parties know and do not exclude the
essential ends and properties of marriage; and furthermore that the Catho
lic party confirms the obligations, which have been made known to the
non-Catholic party, of preserving his or her own faith and ensuring the
baptism and education of the children in the Catholic Church.
Through ecumenical dialogue Christian communities in many
regions have been able to put into effect a
common pastoral practice for mixed
Its task is to help such couples live out their particular situation
in the light of faith, overcome the tensions between the couple’s obligations
to each other and towards their ecclesial communities, and encourage the
flowering of what is common to them in faith and respect for what
In marriages with disparity of cult the Catholic spouse has a
particular task: “For the unbelieving husband is consecrated through his
wife, and the unbelieving wife is consecrated through her husband.”
is a great joy for the Christian spouse and for the Church if this “consecra-
tion” should lead to the free conversion of the other spouse to the Christian
Sincere married love, the humble and patient practice of the
family virtues, and perseverance in prayer can prepare the non-believing
spouse to accept the grace of conversion.
137 Cf. CIC, can. 1124.
138 Cf. CIC, can. 1086.
139 Cf. CIC, can. 1125.