Indians at synod stress marriage issues

 

Cardinal Gracias said that Indians have traditionally maintained strong family ties but negative influences, including films, challenge that tradition.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias

Vatican City: While some countries face family issues such as divorce and polygamy, the synod’s Indian participants have voiced concern for interreligious marriages, which pose pastoral concerns across Asia, said Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay.

We have got this whole thing of mixed marriages, there are many marriages in India which are between (a) Catholic and somebody who is not baptized, a Hindu, a Muslim, or a Buddhist, and that is what specifically came out of India,” Cardinal Gracias told Catholic News Agency.

While marriage between a Catholic and an unbaptized person would normally be invalid, the local ordinary can dispense from this impediment, and thus allow such a marriage to be validly contracted (canon 1086).

Cardinal Gracias, who is part of Pope Francis’ ‘council of cardinals’, explained that when faced with the difficult situations interreligious marriages can present, it’s always necessary to have a “positive pastoral approach” to the couples and families involved.

The cardinal was accompanied to the synod by Fr. Cajetan Menezes, who is director of the Bombay archdiocese’s Snehalaya Family Service Center.

Fr. Menezes has served as an auditor for the synod, and spoke to CNA Oct. 15 saying the topic of interreligious marriages was one of the three points he brought up when he addressed the synod fathers.

With the number of interreligious marriages on the rise across Asia, the priest said that it is an important issue, and one with which the Church needs to have a “very specific pastoral care.”

Although other countries might not share the pastoral difficulties caused by interreligious marriages, Fr. Menezes observed that “this is a big issue in Asia because we are a minority,” and cited India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Japan as countries with a high percentage of interreligious couples.

Fr. Menezes said that the synod’s emphasis on welcoming and inviting those who are far from the Church or who find themselves in situations that could be problematic is also a way of embracing those who have been ostracized because of interreligious challenges.

“I think it’s the first time I noticed (them) speaking a different (kind of) language, and I think that’s a very positive influence of Pope Francis, (who) is reaching out, welcoming, and also looking at not only those who are at the center, but at the periphery,” the priest said.

Returning to the situation in India, Cardinal Gracias said that Indians have traditionally maintained strong family ties but negative influences, including films challenge that tradition.

“I think that people are beginning to feel that this is not the best thing and we have got to try to reinforce the family,” he said. Noting that although a zero percent breakdown rate is impossible, he said: “It should not be 50 percent either.”?

However, he explained that much of a lasting family dynamic will depend on the preparation of the couple before marriage, as well as the process of accompanying them after the sacrament is contracted.

Source: Catholic news agency

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