Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - SCU Access Only


Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2020.

Degree Name

Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL)


Anh Q. Tran S.J.


Marriage is a conjugal covenant between a man and a woman in which rituals are taken from cultural and religious elements of a society. This thesis explores the marriages between Catholics and Buddhists in the context of contemporary Vietnam where the followers of these two religions make up the majority of interfaith marriages.

Historically and culturally, marriages in Vietnam were almost always between the people of the same religion. Interfaith marriages rarely occurred in ancient Vietnam. When they did occur, there was often misunderstanding and sometimes mistrust between the families of the spouses. The problem was partially due to the strict requirements of the Catholic Church regarding interfaith marriages, and a lack of teaching or understanding of these requirements, especially by the non-Catholic party. The ancestral cult was perceived as one of the main obstacles in an interfaith marriage between a Catholic and a Buddhist or Confucian. Since Vatican II, the Catholic Church has recognized the importance of the ancestor veneration as a cultural expression, and thus, the Church has sought to include it within Catholic rituals.

This thesis is an attempt to describe the intercultural and interreligious encounters between Catholics and Buddhists in marriage ceremonies. It seeks to demonstrate how Catholic-Buddhist couples can strengthen their marital fidelity and commitments through religious ceremonies that include ancestor veneration (traditional custom), and a commitment of love and faithfulness “until death” (Catholic) and lifetime harmony (Buddhist).

Once entering the married life, spouses also carry with them a religious character that they received from their respective religion. Exploring Thomas Aquinas’ teachings on marital friendship, this study explores the integration of Aquinas’ theological teaching of friendship into Catholic-Buddhist marriages in Vietnam. It facilitates interfaith spouses to cultivate their marital friendship which is the most essential element for making their married life flourish and indissoluble with a lifetime commitment to each other.

Finally, this project is an attempt to support the spouses who are or will be living in an interfaith marriage, particularly a Catholic-Buddhist marriage. It also provides a comprehensive material resource to ministers, catechists, and facilitators of marriage preparation programs so they can help not only the interfaith spouses-to-be but their parents and immediate families as well. Ultimately, it points out several commonalities between Catholicism and Buddhism so people from both families can have a better understanding of the other’s background and perspectives. This certainly will go a long way to deepen the Catholic-Buddhist relation regarding interfaith marriage and dialogue among religious plurality and diversity of contemporary Vietnam.

SCU Access Only

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