07/06/2010, 00.00
BANGLADESH
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Mixed marriages often do not work, but some mixed couples are happy, Bangladeshi priest says

by William Gomes
In the predominantly Muslim country, mixed marriages often fail over financial problems and religious differences. Fr Shorot Francis Gomes, a member of the Worldwide Marriage Encounter, has been helping couples since 2005 to understand the sacrament and mystery of the calling of Jesus within their union.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – In Bangladesh, “most mixed marriages do not work; they end up creating confusion in the children who do not know what religion to follow. But there are also some mixed couples who are also happy families,” said Fr Shorot Francis Gomes, deputy rector of the Holy Spirit Major Seminar in Dhaka and a member of the Worldwide Marriage Encounter (WME), a Catholic outreach organisation that enriches and supports families through the teachings of the Gospel.

In Bangladesh, 85 per cent of the country’s 140 million people are Muslim. Christians represent only 0.7 per cent. According to Fr Gomes, marriage between people from different religious backgrounds is a problem that compounds existing challenges associated with poverty and the lack of education among young people.

“We see married couples suffering, having many problems; the first one is when one of the two does not heed the emotional, physical and economic needs of the other. However, these are not the real difficulties. Couples need to understand the sacrament and mystery of the calling of Jesus within their union.”

For Fr Gomes, educating the young to understand marriage and the responsibilities that come with that sacrament is something important. Internet and social networks provide an opportunity to educate young couples.

“Many families are often led astray by these networks, but I think they can also be a gift if used appropriately,” the clergyman said.

“When Christ becomes the centre of the family, everything changes and life becomes full of joy and hope,” he added.

WME was created in 1953 in Spain. It currently operates in 87 countries, including Bangladesh since 2005.

Its purpose is to help couples live their intimacy in a responsible way based on the sacramental value of the union between a man and a woman through the assistance of priests and the Christian community.

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