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WEDDING IS CELEBRATION, NOT A RELIGIOUS REWARD

Dear Abby: Please advise the daughter of "Mother of the Bride" that she can find a pastor from another Christian church to marry her and her fiance. I know lots of people who have lived together before marriage (and people who have been divorced) who have found sympathetic pastors who allow God's presence to be part of their marriage ceremonies. She just needs to look outside of the Catholic Church. It is ironic that in an effort to punish this couple for living together before marriage, the mother and the Catholic Church refuse to allow this couple to marry, which means they must continue living together outside of marriage, a position which makes it impossible for the couple to end the "sin"!

Unfortunately, the church is so focused on maintaining authority, it forgets that the message of Christ was one of reconciliation and love. What is important about this couple's relationship is that they are committed to each other, and that their life together is an expression of their commitment to God.Mother and the church should take this opportunity to be a witness to their faith by offering the couple forgiveness. Living their lives in the presence of God means much more than obeying the rules of the Catholic Church.

- Another Point of View

Dear A.P.O.V.: Thank you for this opportunity to suggest that the Unitarian Church responds to situations like this in a most enlightened way. Many readers have also felt strongly about that column. Read on:

Dear Abby: In response to the letter from "Mother of the Bride," Marsha and Brad seem like normal young adults, trying to live, love and marry according to God's law. Their condemnation by her mother is tragic, unwarranted and undeserved. It's interesting that after all her self-righteous babble, she was too ashamed to sign her name.

I am a staunch Roman Catholic - educated by the Jesuits throughout high school and college - and I can tell her with certainty that most of the Jesuits who taught me would condemn her profoundly. In this entire premarital mess, the mother is the sinner. Her ONLY obligation in this matter is to stand by her daughter and support her psychologically and in every way possible. In 20 years, when she goes to visit her daughter and her family, and they throw her out, she'll ask, "What did I do wrong?"

I speak with authority; I was there. In 1960, my wife and I married in the face of considerable opposition. Betty was a superb wife and mother. She raised three beautiful children, but we could never forget the cloud that hung over what should have been one of the happiest days of our lives. Betty died three years ago, during the 31st year of a wonderful marriage.

Mother, help your daughter, PLEASE!

- Leonard J. De Carlo, M.D.,

Oklahoma City

Dear Dr. De Carlo: Thank you for a wonderful letter. I hope Mother sees it and gets your message. Some readers wrote asking why I had assumed that this conservative mother had not shared her feelings with her daughter when she was maturing. In her letter, Mother said she was "thrilled" when the church refused to provide a priest for the nuptials "due to the fact that Marsha and Brad were living together unmarried," adding, "I haven't shared my feelings with Marsha because it would cause a fight."

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