A Piece of Advice

A Priest Shares His Thoughts on Interfaith Relationships

4 mins. read

Topics: Inter-Faith,Dating,Getting Serious

It’s all about honesty, maturity, and communication—whether or not you share the same faith.


Many couples in culturally taboo relationships can chalk up the stigma around their love to social norms. Interfaith couples, however, also have to face their religions’ sacred traditions and what is often perceived as a fixed set of principles that may not even allow them to be together.

The Philippines, for example, is a predominantly Catholic country where some are discouraged by their own families from dating people of other faiths. Catholics in relationships with non-Catholics may feel unwelcome in their own religion but the Church is more open to interfaith relationships than people might think. Yes, the convention is rooted in longstanding teachings, but there’s actually room for love to thrive regardless of religion.

We asked Myke Dacalos, a Filipino Catholic priest based in Rome, to share his perspective on what the faith thinks about interfaith love.

What is the most important factor that makes a relationship successful?

Myke Dacalos: It’s all about honesty and maturity. That’s where it all starts, especially when we consider the religious traditions of the couple. The Catholic Church encourages everyone who would like to enter into a relationship to be honest and mature, and to enter the relationship with marriage as the end in mind. This is challenging, especially with hook-up culture nowadays. But even with those circumstances or social realities, the Church still calls everyone to have that kind of mindset. Upon entering romantic relationships, marriage should be considered.

How does the Catholic Church view interfaith relationships?

The common misconception is that the Church has a very narrow perception about this kind of relationship, even to the point of being allergic to it. But actually, it doesn’t. The Church recognizes that there are realities like this, so it recognizes the truth: That interfaith relationships can work. This is in recognition that God’s call for the human family transcends all religious boundaries.

What the Church says is that it should be clear between the couple that they are entering into a very serious relationship with marriage as the end goal. At the very start, this should be discussed, because there are provisions in the canon law [for couples who do not share the same faith].

What are those provisions?

Practically, the Catholic Church encourages marriages between a Catholic and another Catholic. But since the reality is that not all Catholics fall in love with fellow-Catholics, that’s when what we call “dispensations” come in.

“Dispensation” is a technical term in canon law that relaxes church laws regarding certain issues. For example, [a dispensation could relax] the law about marriages between Catholics, [so that it allows a marriage between Catholics and non-Catholics]. That law can be dispensed because it’s an ecclesiastical law, not a divine or natural law. In the Philippines, it’s usually a bishop who gives the couple this dispensation.

How do you think interfaith couples can make their relationships work?

Interfaith relationships would work out if the persons involved are honest and mature, and have good communication. Even a relationship between two Catholics wouldn’t work out if the individuals are not mature or honest.

Any final tips for interfaith couples?

Communication, communication, communication—because this is what will form the foundation of their commitment to and compassion for each other. When communication weakens, so does commitment. With less communication, the couples will drift apart and compassion will soon be out of the picture.

Interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Source: Romano Santos, VICE

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46% of youths fear discrimination or public shame when in an unconventional relationship.