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In developed parts of the world, there has been a general trend towards ensuring equal rights within marriage for women and legally recognizing the marriages of interfaith, interracial, and same-sex couples.These trends coincide with the broader human rights movement.These latter ran no risk in bearing testimony to facts that came under their observation, whereas the witnesses of Christ were brought face to face daily, from the beginning of their apostolate, with the possibility of incurring severe punishment and even death itself. Stephen was a witness who early in the history of Christianity sealed his testimony with his blood.The careers of the Apostles were at all times beset with dangers of the gravest character, until eventually they all suffered the last penalty for their convictions.These days, many people marry across religious lines. with proportionately fewer Catholics, as many as 40% of married Catholics may be in ecumenical or interfaith marriages.

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However, express permission of the local bishop is necessary.In some areas of the world, arranged marriage, child marriage, polygamy, and sometimes forced marriage, may be practiced as a cultural tradition.Conversely, such practices may be outlawed and penalized in parts of the world out of concerns of the infringement of women's rights, or the infringement of children's rights (both female and male children), and because of international law.A marriage between a Catholic and another Christian is also considered a sacrament.In fact, the church regards all marriages between baptized Christians as sacramental, as long as there are no impediments.