There are at least three major areas in which Protestant-Roman Catholic relations are seriously disturbed today. These are: marriage rules, public aid for Catholic schools, and birth control. Tensions are heightened by the Roman Catholic rule that no member of that communion is validly married if the ceremony has been performed by a Protestant clergyman; by the insistence of Cardinal Spellman and his colleagues that Catholic schools should receive public subsidy; and by the insistence of the Roman hierarchy on a public policy which coincides with its view that “artificial” birth control is a sin.

The matter could, of course, be stated the other way. It could be said that tensions are heightened by the insistence of Protestants that their marriage rites shall have equal validity with the Roman; that it is unconstitutional, and bad social policy as well, to subsidize Roman Catholic institutions with public funds; and that public policy must not be controlled by a concept of divine law or natural law which could lead to social disaster.

Both Protestant and Roman Catholic clergymen discourage inter-faith marriage. There is, nevertheless, a rapidly rising incidence of such marriages. Tensions are gravely increased in such marriages by the inflexibility of the Roman Catholic rules which allow little room for give-and-take in regard to the religious difference. Canon Law 1012 proclaims that for Catholics there can be no valid marriage unless it is performed by a Roman priest. A Catholic who is married by a Protestant minister is described as having “attempted” marriage, and the ceremony is regarded by that church as being invalid.

There would appear to be a ready solution in simply allowing the priest to perform the ceremony. But ...

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