Catholic, Muslim marry in Fatima church to show it is possible

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Portuguese Catholic Toni Jorge, 39, and Tunisian Muslim Oumayma, 36, were married on Friday by the Catholic Church in Fátima to show other mixed religion couples that marriage “is possible”.

The ceremony took place this afternoon in the Parish Church of Fátima, in the municipality of Ourém, in the district of Santarém and, for the bride and groom, the act proves the openness of the Catholic Church, giving a “sign of tolerance” and “compatibility between the two religions”.

“Whenever we told anyone about the wedding, everyone was surprised – nobody knew it was possible to marry a Muslim person in a church. It’s a good occasion to show that it’s possible,” Toni Jorge told Lusa news agency before the ceremony.

Oumayma, for her part, sees “a lot of frustration among young people” when they want to have a relationship with someone from another religion. “They’re afraid of what might happen. Our marriage is an example of what can happen,” she said.

Their relationship began in March 2020, in Spain, when they celebrated their birthdays in Seville, “even before the Covid explosion and the lockdown”.

The pandemic and the distance – they live in France, in cities hundreds of kilometres apart – made dating difficult, “but we managed to find each other”.

In December 2022, Toni proposed. The difference in faiths was irrelevant in his and her decision.

“We’re both believers, I believe in God, she believes in God. We have different religions, but we know that they both have the same values. That’s the most important thing. It doesn’t matter if we pray differently or not.”

Toni Jorge, who was born in France to emigrant parents from Fátima, had an extra wish: to celebrate the union in the city of his family.

“As I’m Portuguese and from Fátima, this parish church has a lot of symbolism for me. My parents were baptised here, married here, and my brothers and I were also baptised here. I always had the idea of getting married here,” he said.

Oumayma, who didn’t even want a religious wedding of any kind, accepted. “When I realised that it was something that would make him and his family happy, and that I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable about it, I said: ‘fine’.”

The family’s handling of the matter was less smooth. “My parents weren’t very happy, but they accepted it,” says the Tunisian, who had to deal with resistance from her brother and sister. “They wanted him to convert. I said ‘no, no way, I’m not going to force anyone to change their religion because of me”.

Oumayma’s parents and another brother were present at the ceremony in Fatima church today. Before the wedding, the bride hoped that the experience would be “good for them”, in contrast to the conservatism that characterises the Muslim generations, especially the older ones. “To see that it’s good to be open to other religions.”

Faced with their son’s desire to marry a Muslim woman in Fatima, Toni’s parents reacted with scepticism, but for another reason: “They said he was crazy, that the priest would never accept it!”.

Oumayma remembers that all his friends told them the same thing. But the groom didn’t give up and went to speak to the parish priest. “He was very welcoming. He said that they did mixed marriages and that it was enough for one of us to be Catholic and baptised,” recalled the bride.

Today, the ceremony was partly celebrated in French by Father Rui Marto, so that Oumayma could understand.

“As a Christian, it pleases me to know that my religion is more open and accepting of others. That’s what religion is all about: accepting people, regardless of their nationality, sexuality, etc,” said Toni.

The party prepared to celebrate the union between Toni and Oumayma Jorge was attended by almost one hundred and fifty guests.

“We chose main courses without pork,” a food forbidden by the Muslim holy book, the Koran. And so everyone can eat, Catholics and Muslims alike,” said Toni Jorge before the wedding.

Iris Lavan
Iris Lavan
With a background as a consultant in the medical industry, Iris Lavan brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to Portugal Pulse. Iris also runs a company in Tel Aviv offering marketing, business development, content creation and public relations services. She holds a degree in economics and management, giving her a solid grounding in business strategy and financial planning. Iris' commitment to Portugal Pulse is reflected not only in her consulting career, but also in her impact on the Portugale media landscape in Israel. She was an interviewer for Hadshot Portugal חדשות פורטוגל, a media outlet that broadcasts news about Portugal in Hebrew, where she provided valuable information on current affairs, healthcare and the economy. Since July 2023, Iris has also been part of the Portugal Pulse team.

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