Catholic Interfaith Relations

How interfaith couples make it work

Interfaith and interchurch couples face unique challenges in building strong marriages.

Anna Weaver, US Catholic Magazine, November 21, 2011

Before Juliann Richards met Neal Levy, she didn’t doubt that she’d marry a fellow Catholic someday. After all, Richards was raised Catholic, attended Catholic school, grew up mostly around fellow Catholics, and knew she wanted her children raised with the same faith.

“For many years, I told myself (and others) that I was going to the nearby Catholic college to meet a nice Catholic boy and get married,” Richards recalls.

But when she met Levy—who is Jewish—the two quickly became friends and eventually started dating. Fast-forward several years: Richards and Levy, both 27, are newlyweds who married in a Jewish-Catholic ceremony.

Such marriages—interfaith (between a Catholic and a non-Christian) and interchurch (between a Catholic and another Christian)—have been rising for 30 years.

A 2007 survey on marriage by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) revealed that marrying another Catholic is a low priority for young Catholics. Of never-married Catholics, only 7 percent said it was “very important” to marry someone of the same faith.

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The Virgin Mary: Bridging Catholics and Muslims

The Journal of Social Encounters published Fr. Carl Chudy’s comparative study on the description of Mary in the Gospels and the Qur’an that “opens us up to the profound mystery of God that transcends the boundaries of both of our faiths…” Access the Journal here.

Being Catholic with Other Faiths

Although Vatican II opened a new door for the Catholic Church to our relationship with other faiths, it did not yet go as far as to say that interreligious dialogue is part of the evangelizing mission of the church. This came through the Pontificate of John Paul II through three subsequent documents: Dialogue and Mission (1984), the mission encyclical Mission of the Redeemer (1990), and Dialogue and Proclamation (1991). These teachings reflect the growing awareness of the centrality of interfaith dialogue in the very mission of the church. For Pope John Paul II, dialogue is fundamental for the Church, based on the very life of the Triune God, as well as on respect and love for every human person: “As far as the local churches are concerned, they must commit themselves in this direction, helping all the faithful to respect and to esteem the values, traditions, and convictions of other believers.”

This dialogue is not a mere discussion about each other’s beliefs. For the church there are several ways this dialogue can play out.

  • The first is the dialogue of life where believers of different religions bear witness before each other in daily life to their own human and spiritual values, and help each other to live according to those values in order to build a more just and fraternal society.
  • The second is the dialogue of works and action where collaboration with other faiths is opportune in the social, economic and political to build a more humane society.
  • The third is the dialogue of theological exchange and often involves specialists and leaders in different faith traditions in search for ultimate truth.
  • Finally the dialogue of religious experience is an opportunity to share prayer and religious experiences in our common search for the Absolute.

Compilation of Quotes from Pope Francis on Interfaith and Ecumenical Dialogue

Videos on Interfaith Dialogue, Spirituality and Prayer

Download our latest e-newsletter of the Metrowest Interfaith Dialogue Project

The Teaching of the Catholic Church on Interfaith Dialogue

US Catholic Bishops on Global Mission and Interfaith Dialogue

Interfaith Organizations to Connect With

Interfaith Journals

Essays on Dialogue by Fr. Carl Chudy, SX

Join in on interfaith opportunities with our Metrowest Interfaith Dialogue Project. Learn how you can help with the Interfaith Refugee Project helping Ukrainian war refugees settle in the Metrowest area.

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