A Catholic Parent Using His Jewish Daughter As A Pawn In A Contentious Divorce.


I just came across  an article from Chicago CBS 2’s website that speaks volumes for the importance of an interfaith family being in agreement about the religious upbringing of their family.

In Chicago, Joseph Reyes may be in violation or a court order for taking his 3 year old daughter to church. Joseph Reyes had his child baptized and sent a photograph to his soon-to-be-ex wife, Rebecca. She asked the court to bar her husband from taking their daughter to church and exposing her to any religion other than Judaism. The court agreed that such exposure would be detrimental to the young child. Then the father took his child to church again, arranging for a television reporter to write on the story.

Joseph Reyes converted to Judaism after his daughter’s birth. Even though Jewish law forbids coercion in conversion, Mr. Reyes told the local reporter that he had been pressured to convert. He said he wants to expose his daughter to Catholicism and let her choose her own religion, and further, he can’t see much difference between Judaism and Catholicism:

I am taking her to hear the teachings of perhaps the most prominent Jewish Rabbi (Jesus) in the history of this great planet of ours. I can’t think of anything more Jewish than that.”

What jumped out at us at InterfaithFamily.com was the slanted way the reporter wrote the story, siding with the husband who had reversed agreements with his wife in the process of the divorce. There’s no recognition in the stories on the CBS 2 website of a Jewish viewpoint or even the idea that religion might be used in a divorce as a weapon. He didn’t quote any experts on interfaith families, nearly all of whom take  the position that raising children in one faith is less confusing. Certainly, adult children of interfaith families have told us they found it confusing to be raised “both”.

People do change after divorce, but we always hope that parents will stay with the parenting decisions they made for their children before the divorce. We had one of our interfaith marriage experts record his advice on how to weather divorce–emphasizing how children benefit from consistency. We know that the Reyes’ story is not uncommon, and that many interfaith couples who divorce wind up in conflict over religion. Perhaps we’re all lucky that the local news media don’t choose to involve themselves in every case!

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5 thoughts on “A Catholic Parent Using His Jewish Daughter As A Pawn In A Contentious Divorce.”

  • From a Jewish perspective the child is Jewish, but from a Catholic perspective the child is Catholic. The law cannot privilege one religion over the other because of the First Amendment.

  • this story really freaked me out when i read about it. i was wondering when it would catch the eye of IFF. i’ve also heard similar horror stories from Orthodox converts who want to convert with their children but have Jewish or non-Jewish former spouses who are simply awful to them.

    At 3 years old, you’d be amazed what a child can learn about Judaism. Children are sponges. I’ve met 3 year olds who have given me a run for my money! They say the blessings, talk about Hashem, read Hebrew letters, etc.

    It is all too obvious in this story that this is more than an interfaith issue. This is another sad example of the wars that break out between divorcing parents who use the children against each other.

  • The girl is 3 and she’s hardly been exposed to Judaism yet. I don’t see how having her father take her to Mass or have her baptized will harm her any more than having her mother take her to the synagogue. They should work it out. I think the judge’s ruling will probably be overturned on appeal since most states allow parents to each teach their children about their faith as long as it will not harm the child. What the father is doing isn’t going to hurt this kid. As far as sending his wife the photo, well, it was an important event in the girl’s life. I suppose he could argue that he was including the mom in life events just as the mom might send him pictures of the girl going to some Jewish event. But it could be they just hate each other’s guts and are trying to hurt each other using the girl.

  • “Reyes had his child baptized and sent a photograph to his soon-to-be-ex wife, Rebecca.”

    For what reason would he send that photograph, except to antagonize his wife?

    Apparently, creating conflict is more important than keeping his word, and more important than raising a confused daughter.

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