Don’t do it! Cardinal tells women who want to marry Muslims

In Portugal, a Catholic Church leader has caused offence by warning women to think twice before marrying a Muslim. The cardinal claims such weddings will only lead to problems.

Portugal may boast a socialist government but it does remain a largely conservative and Catholic country, where growing Muslim immigration has become a thorny issue for Lisbon's Catholic church.

Its leader, Cardinal Jose Policarpo has spoken out with advice for Portuguese women.

“Be careful with love,” he said. “Think twice about marrying a Muslim… Because such unions cause a whole host of problems, and even Allah can’t tell what might happen.”

This has caused a ruffle of controversy among Lisbon's Muslim community. Lisbon’s Imam Sheikh David says he would never dream of giving such advice to Muslims.

“I don't advise Muslims not to get married to a Christian woman just because she is a Christian,” he said. “No, I tell Muslim men, that you're getting married to a Christian women, so please respect her faith.”

Muslims in Lisbon say they do feel integrated in Portuguese society, but now they are worried Cardinal Policarpo's words could incite intolerance and discrimination.

Portugal is an 85 per cent Catholic nation and there are only around 40,000 Muslims in Portugal. Many are immigrants from North Africa.

The cardinal says dialogue is difficult with the Muslim community because “they think their truth is the only truth.”

Christians are defending the Cardinal.

Manuel Marujao, a spokesperson for the Episcopal Community in Lisbon said that the cardinal has given no more than just “realistic advice to be prudent and cautious about marrying people of different religion and culture” and for women “to be aware of how women are treated in Muslim society.”