Mixed Marriages, Prohibition of

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Church law forbids two baptized persons from contracting marriage when one is a Catholic and the other belongs to a Christian community that lacks full communion with Rome (Codex Iuris Canonicis c. 1124; Codex Canonum Ecclesiarium Orientalium c. 813). In this part of its matrimonial discipline, the Church canonizes the custom and particular legislation that goes back to its earliest centuries, forbidding members from contracting marriage with those, who, by birth or by choice, were outside the membership of the Church.

With the advent of the Reformation, the cases in which mixed marriages arose became more frequent, especially in such countries as Germany and Holland. The Council of Trent failed to enact any legislation dealing directly with mixed marriages. Indirectly, however, it controlled such unions by requiring for the validity of marriage of a Catholic the assistance of the Catholic's proper pastor, wherever the decree tametsi was published. No priest was allowed to assist at such marriages without a dispensation. Despite this fact, an opinion arose that in Protestant countries, where the juridical form of marriage of the decree Tametsi was not obligatory, there was no need to seek a dispensation and no need to ask for the antenuptial promises or cautiones. This opinion was condemned and the word "everywhere" was inserted into c. 1060 of the 1917 code and c. 50 of Crebrae allatae.

Under the 1917 code and Crebrae allatae, mixed religion was an impediment to marriage (1917 Codex Iuris Canonicis c. 1060; Crebrae allatae c. 50). The current discipline of the Church prohibits mixed marriages, but does not consider mixed religion an impediment.

Local ordinaries can grant permission for a mixed marriage (Codex Iuris Canonicis c. 1125; Codex Canonum Ecclesiarium Orientalium c. 814). Before the permission is granted, the Catholic party must declare that he or she is prepared to remove dangers of lapsing from the Catholic faith as well as promise that he or she will do all in his or her power to baptize and raise children born to the marriage as Catholics (Codex Iuris Canonicis c. 1125; Codex Canonum Ecclesiarium Orientalium c.814).

Bibliography: f. j. schenk, The Matrimonial Impediments of Mixed Religion and Disparity of Cult (Catholic University of America CLS 51; Washington, D.C. 1929). bousc-o'connor, Codex iuris Canonici (Rome 1918; repr. Graz 1955). f. teraar, Mixed Marriages and Their Remedies, tr. a. walter, ed. f. j. connell (New York 1933).

[e. a. fus/eds.]