Catholics of Mumbai

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Catholics of Mumbai

The Times of India

It's mixed matches for Mumbai's Catholics

TNN, Oct 10, 2010, 04.15am IST

Anon, It's mixed matches for Mumbai's Catholics, The Times of India, Oct 10, 2010

MUMBAI: Mumbai's numerically small Catholics are undergoing a transition, tying the matrimonial knot with those outside their community in the rest of India. And the BPO industry is playing a major role in heralding the change. Over the last decade, there has been a gradual increase in mixed marriages in the Catholic community. From 12% mixed marriages at the turn of the millennium, these climbed to 26% in 2008 before falling back to 22% in 2009. On an average, there are around 2,500 marriages in churches across Mumbai every year.

Father Dominic Savio Fernandes, chancellor and judge in the Ecclesiastical Tribunal, Archdiocese of Bombay, said the trend of mixed marriages in the Catholic community was increasing. These includes instances of Catholics marrying non-Catholics such as Protestants, apart of course from Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims.

We believe all religions are equal but it is also our duty to ensure that we live out our faith. The Church does not encourage these marriages because different backgrounds and cultures can often lead to conflicts, he said.

Anandini Thakur, a well-known civic activist from Khar, had a mixed marriage 53 years ago. She had then had to elope to the United Kingdom to tie the knot. Even today, she has no regrets and contends, What's the point in marrying within your religion and then finding you are not compatible? The trend is welcome news.

The BPO industry, said Father Fernandes, has served as a catalyst for such marriages. When we ask these couples where and how they met, we learn they were working together in a BPO company, he said. Media, travel and increased interactions in close environments have helped dissolve barriers of language and creed. BPO companies regularly host parties for their staff so that there is more team bonding. Consequently, people find it easier to learn about and relate to each other.

When couples of different faiths confirm their decision to marry, the Church allows them to have a Christian marriage. It's compulsory for all couples (Catholic and mixed) to attend a one-day or weekend marriage encounter course. This workshop is to encourage couples to understand each other better and if they feel they are not suited for each other then can re-think their decision, said B Susan, who had a mixed marriage.

The Church, however, strongly discourages conversions into the faith before or immediately after marriage. Faith is a personal experience. Sometimes the girl or boy is keen to convert just because she/he wants to marry a particular person. We do not encourage or allow such conversions.

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