Mixed Marriages Being Discouraged in Indonesia

Clergy Addressing Problems of Christian-Muslim Unions

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JAKARTA, Indonesia, FEB. 9, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Catholic clergy in Indonesia are discouraging young Catholics from marrying non-Catholics, particularly Muslims.

The Diocese of Pontianak, for instance, recently organized a formation course for youth on morals in marriage and the problems posed by mixed marriages.

The question is a burning issue in this nation of 224 million people, 86% of whom are Muslim and about 3% are Catholic. In recent years, Christians have suffered persecution by Muslim fundamentalists in some of the archipelago´s islands. Last Christmas Eve, bombs exploded in several churches. In the Moluccas, signs of genocide are arising.

The instructors of the course in Pontianak, held at the interdiocesan seminary in the city, explained the norms of canon law that regulate the dispensation for such marriages.

Father William Chang, seminary rector, warned that such marriages «always have an effect on the life of faith of the family and on the formation in the faith of the young children.»

Father Lukas Ahon, responsible for the diocesan youth commission, spoke of what he has seen in recent years. «We have discovered that young Catholics lose their faith easily because of mixed marriages,» he told the young people in attendance.

Bishop Hieronymus Bumbun of Pontianak gave hope to those who nevertheless marry people of other religions by encouraging them to be «light and salt» for their spouses.

An engineer who married a Muslim woman gave his own testimony: «I survived thanks to the fact I continued to pray and to read the Bible, and thanks to the support of the parish.»

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