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On a blustery weekend this past February, 26 people met at the Cenacle Retreat House in Chicago to reflect on the religious dimensions of marriage. What was unusual about this gathering was that it brought together Christians and Muslims who are married, engaged or seriously considering marriage.Attendees hailed mostly from the Chicago area, but also from Valparaiso, Minneapolis, Rochester, Minn., and Seattle.One man even cut short a trip abroad, at his wife’s behest, to be present.“Mixed marriage,” the canonical term for marriage between a Catholic and a member of another Christian church, is a fact of life in America’s religiously plural society.But many may not realize how prevalent it is among Catholics.
When two planes hit the World Trade Centre on 9/11 in 2001, Heather Al-Yousuf says she felt sick when her husband suggested they recite the opening Sura from the Koran.A study by Creighton University’s Center for Marriage and Family in 1999 indicates that today roughly 40 percent of all Catholics marry non-Catholics.Most of these unions involve Catholics and other Christians (a more ecumenically sensitive term is “interchurch” marriage rather than “mixed,” which has some negative connotations).However, Mrs Al-Yousuf thinks this is why so many inter-faith couples are drawn together. But as couples from different faiths fall in love, what are the challenges they face?"There are quite a lot of Catholic-Muslim couples, and Catholics from quite a strong Catholic background meeting a Muslim from a strong Muslim background. According to figures from the 2001 census, more than 4% of married Muslims are in an inter-faith marriage in England and Wales.
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