Barb Hassan was brought up in a Catholic family that frequently prayed at
home and attended church “more than the average Catholic family.” This
strict religious rearing resulted in a devout young woman who, in her 20s,
was drawn to a man she met at work who was equally devout.

“We were both extremely religious,” said Hassan, 47, of Chesterfield. “I
was looking for someone with the same ideals I was brought up with.”

The problem, as many of their friends and relatives saw it, was that he was
a Muslim. But to Barb, Abdul’s faith, which she knew nearly nothing about,
was attractive. “It was harder than my religion,” she said, “and so I
thought it had to be better.” Eventually, the two married. They left work
during their lunch hour, said their vows at the courthouse and went back to
their desks.

“No one wanted us to marry. Everyone was against it. We were completely
alone,” said Barb, spokesperson for the couple, who have two children. She
notes, somewhat defiantly, that she and Abdul are about to celebrate their
19th anniversary.

For mixed-faith couples like the Hassans, love trumps pronouncements from
religious leaders like one made by Vatican officials earlier this month
titled, “The love of Christ towards migrants.”

The 80-page document sends a clear message about marriage to Roman
Catholics around the world: They should marry other Catholics. Or at least
other Christians.

The timing of the Vatican pronouncement is especially provocative because
it brings to the surface the notion that, even as the world is getting
smaller and global cultures are increasingly blending together, we all
might be better off marrying and having children within our own faiths.

But not everyone is convinced that strict intrafaith marriage should be an
ideal, or is even a possibility..


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