chapter  14
Missionaries and the Marriages of Infidels: The Case of the Mongol Mission
ByJames Muldoon
Pages 17

One of the major practical difficulties which Christian missionaries have faced has been the effect of baptism upon the personal lives of converts. The contacts of missionaries with non-European societies which engaged in a wide range of marital practices forbidden to Christians generated an extensive debate about the nature of marriage. Those who were anxious to ease the path of potential converts sought to change the Church's position on marriage. The refusal of the papacy to make sweeping changes in the law of marriage meant that the Pauline Privilege, the only legal means of dissolving a marriage validly contracted between two infidels, was stretched to new lengths during the sixteenth century in order to accommodate converts. The Mongol Mission brought missionaries and lawyers into contact with societies which posed the same questions about the nature of marriage that were to emerge three centuries later.