I'm reading a book about the Kennedys. Catholic Kathleen Kennedy married protestant William Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington, in 1944. Here is what she explains in a letter to her mother back in the states:

Fifteen years ago our marriage could have been solemnized in the church, the boys being brought up in the father's religion, the girls in the mother's. However, then a rule was made like the one in our country which put a stop to those marriages.

I wish the book (The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys) had included a paragraph explaining this. What rule changes was she referring to? It sounds like they varied by country. If so, why would a Catholic rule vary by country?

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Such a marriage would be Inter-denominational. The Catholic Church has long viewed marriage with people it calls heretics as illicit without a Bishop's dispensation, as promulgated by the Pio-Benedictine Code of 1917. Prior to this date there was some regional variation and in interpretation and practice, which the Pio-Benedictine Code harmonized.

So my view is that either Kathleen was incorrect about the 15 years, or that the Church in different parts of the world adopted the Pio-Benedictine Code with differing levels of haste, perhaps due to local considerations. In any case, Kathleen was probably incorrect about the case in her "own country", since the Canon Law has stood for centuries (up to a millennium) and had been made more explicit by the Ne Temere decree of 1907 and the Pio-Benedictine Code of 1917.

Certainly, according to the Pio-Benedictine Code, the dispensation could have been given, but was it was unlikely. The wikipedia article mentions "just and reasonable cause", but in practice the interpretation was that only extreme cases were considered. Just being in love was (and still isn't) enough.

But to answer your question, the rules didn't really change, and they were not explicitly designed to "dissuade Catholics from marrying protestants". The rules were about trying to ensure that any children of the union were brought up in the Catholic faith.

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