Catholic who took Jewish daughter to mass cleared

By Jennifer Lipman, October 21, 2010

A Catholic man from Chicago who took his Jewish daughter to midnight mass has been cleared of contempt of court.

Joseph Reyes's ex-wife Rebecca Shapiro applied for a restraining order in 2009 to prevent him from exposing their three-year-old daughter to any religion other than Judaism.

The couple was embroiled in a custody battle at the time.

Mr Reyes had previously arranged for Ela to be baptised and even sent his former wife a photograph of the ceremony.

Then, despite a temporary restraining order banning him from doing so, he took her a Christian service at the Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago.

Mr Reyes said that the order went against the guarantee of freedom of religion as laid out in the United States Constitution.

Following the stunt he was charged with contempt of court, with the possibility of six months in jail and a $500 fine.

However in April a judge ruled that he could take his daughter to church and on Wednesday a second judge found him not guilty of violating the court order.

The verdict rested on the fact that although the church visit was captured on film, Ela’s face was never visible so there was no proof she was there.

Mr Reyes converted on marrying Ms Shapiro in 2004, but renounced his Judaism after the couple split up.

He said there had been no specific agreement to raise their daughter as Jewish, although Ela was blessed at synagogue as a baby.

Last updated: 2:33pm, November 2 2010