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Children of Mixed Marriages & Indifferentism

Gary Morella

The Church is rife with confusion, thanks in no small part to comments such as those of the Vicar-General of the Diocese of Kansas City in the October 11 Values section of Centre Daily Times of State College, PA. The column entitled "Should children in interfaith marriages choose their own faith?" was answered by both a non-Catholic from the Unity Temple on the Plaza in Kansas City, Mo., and Fr. Patrick Rush, the Vicar-General of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, MO.

The answer from the non-Catholic was expected. Sadly, the answer from the Catholic was also expected, and it was indistinguishable, for all practical purposes, from that of the non-Catholic. The Catholic's answer was a result of the indifferentism and syncretism that has de facto reduced Catholicism to just one among many optional religions. Today no notice whatsoever is given to parents or children that it, and it alone, is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church per the Nicene Creed, which clearly states there is one true Faith, charged by God Himself at the end of the Gospel of Matthew to be preached to the whole world.

The "shining light" that the non-Catholic answer leaves us with is one in which there is no concern for the supernatural whatsoever. It is pure Kantian "I'm OK, you're OK" nonsense, the religion of "moral relativism" leading inevitably to anarchy, a state where there is no such thing as sin, or more correctly, the only sin is telling someone that "sin exists with supernatural consequences."

In the Catholic answer, Fr. Rush tells us that "parents have a responsibility to nurture a religious sensitivity in their young children." What does this mean? Are the children supposed to be sensitive to the errors of non-Catholic beliefs? This is ludicrous. Is that educating children in the Faith? In a mixed marriage, the non-Catholic party used to be required to promise to place no obstacles in the way of practicing the Faith for the Catholic, and both parties promised to baptize and educate all of their children in the Catholic Faith. Moreover, it was required that there be a moral certainty that these guarantees would be honored. It was also understood that the Catholic would make it a priority to convert his/her spouse to the Faith.

After reading the purported "Catholic" answer below, one can only come to the conclusion that it is not Catholic. It is heretical to encourage confusion in children by encouraging conflicting faith traditions in light of the aforementioned Gospel of Matthew. Why did Jesus Christ found the one, true Church upon the Rock that is Peter if He didn't intend for its message of salvation to be preached to the world? If the Church isn't necessary for salvation, then Christ did something that doesn't make sense, which is blasphemy!

Christ didn't encourage "diversity" of religions, as the vicar-general of Kansas City infers. When referring to His one Church, Christ didn't use plurals, upwards of 30,000 denominations, and counting.

The vicar-general gives the impression that one can "choose" to leave the Catholic Faith, a Faith that he doesn't even encourage the parents to rear their children in. Instead, let them choose, as easily as one chooses which color sweater to wear in the morning. Accordingly, "all children will eventually choose their faith as they mature" – and this would presumably include those children of mixed marriages. There is no mention of what those parents will have to answer for before the judgment seat of God Almighty upon drawing his/her last breath. Such parents will have failed miserably in their primary responsibility to bring up their Children in the Faith so that they might have the possibility of saving their souls for all eternity.

If, at the end of the day, the child believes that choosing or not choosing Catholicism is no "big deal", woe to the purported Catholic parents of that child if such a choice was a direct consequence of their ambiguity about the Faith. An ambiguity that is de facto encouraged by the "loud and clear" message in the answer of the vicar-general of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese.

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Question: Should children in interfaith marriages be allowed
to choose their own faith?

Centre Daily Times - October 11, 2003

Answer by Duke Tufty,
Protestant pastor, Unity Temple on the Plaza, Kansas City, MO:

When two people are dedicated to different religions, as long as neither one is entrenched in the notion that his or her way is the only way, it is quite easy to find the common values between the two, which can be set forth as the foundation for the family.

If neither person is active in a particular church, the children shouldn't be forced to attend either. If one person is more active in his or her church than the other, the children should accompany that person to the church while at the same time learning the basics of the other parent's religion at home.

Most religions have youth programs that culminate in some sort of graduation, such as confirmation, catechism or spiritual baptism. At that point, the child should be able to choose the direction he or she wants to go, whether it be a religion totally different from either parent or a spiritual course that doesn't involve organized religion. Learning and living spiritual values doesn't always equate to participation in a church.

The spiritual values that serve as the foundation of the family will have a much greater influence on the character of a child. There are a hundred different ways to teach a child to treat others the way he or she wants to be treated. If a child learns to live that principle in all his or her endeavors, what a beautiful, bright and shining light he will be.

Answer by Fr. Patrick Rush,
Vicar-General of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, MO:

Parents have a responsibility to nurture a religious sensitivity in their young children. This holds whether the parents practice the same or different faiths. They should provide their children with a faith community that will nurture a personal relationship with God and that will support them in developing lives of prayer, service and justice. I find that this is best done through one primary community with occasional participation in the activities of the second faith community.

Parents of different religious backgrounds can give their children a sense that diversity is good and to be respected and that faith need not divide. Different faith traditions can be broadening for a family. This influence of two faiths can be shared with the children through family prayer and customs in the home that celebrate both traditions.

Perhaps your question is should you allow 5- or 10-year olds to choose their own religion. The answer is, no more than you should allow them to make other significant life-changing decisions.

All children will invariably choose their own faith as they mature. Some may choose as teenagers. Others may choose when they marry. Still others may choose later in life. Some may choose the faith of their childhood, while others may choose a different faith or choose not to practice any faith. But at some stage of life everyone must choose and will choose.

Blason de Charlemagne
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Posted October 14, 2003

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For more on the teaching of the Church on mixed marriage click here -
taken fromThe Catechism Explained by Spirago-Clark

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