Portuguese clergyman warns against Christian-Muslim marriages
Cardinal advises young Portuguese Catholic women to "be careful" and "think twice" before marrying Muslims.Lisbon – Controversy erupted in Portugal last week after a leading Catholic clergyman warned against marriages between Christians and Muslims.
Bishops sided with Cardinal Jose Policarpo, while human rights activists and people living in mixed marriages slammed him for intolerance.
Cardinal Policarpo advised young Portuguese Catholic women to "be careful" and to "think twice" before marrying Muslims.
"It is causing a pile of troubles, and not even Allah knows where they will end," Policarpo said last week in comments that were repeated in media reports. "I know that if a young European of Christian background marries a Muslim, as soon as they go to his country, she’ll be subject to the regime of Muslim women. Just imagine it."
Bishops interviewed by the daily Correio da Manha sided with Policarpo, saying that Islam was not in favor of mixed marriages.
Portuguese Bishops' Conference President Jorge Ortiga had earlier described Policarpo as an advocate of inter-religious dialogue.
Ortiga said the Catholic Church has nothing against its faithful marrying people of other religions, but that such marriages should respect Catholic family values.
Portugal's 40,000-strong Islamic community was "hurt and surprised" by Policarpo's words, its representative Abdul Magid Vakil was quoted by press reports as saying.
However, the Cardinal’s views could be interpreted as a call to respect differences and to seek knowledge about the other religion, Vakil added.
The human rights group Amnesty International criticized Policarpo for inciting discrimination and intolerance.
Some Portuguese who are married to foreign Muslims said they felt offended.
Newspapers published interviews with mixed couples whose marriages had not always led to the conversion of one partner. Some couples said they observed both Ramadan and Christmas.
Most of Portugal's Muslims come from the country's former African colonies in Senegal, North Africa, Asia and Egypt.