Posts Tagged ‘Marriage’

Multiple media reports have given rise to the misconception that Pope Francis is polling Catholics for their views on Church teaching and practices.




Pope Francis Portrait Painting

Pope Francis Portrait Painting (Photo credit: faithmouse)

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis wants to know about the state of marriage and the family in the Church, before the bishops meet in Rome for an extraordinary synod next year. However, the lay faithful should not expect to be receiving a survey on their views from the Vatican anytime soon. 

For one thing, the Vatican’s survey is being handled at the diocesan level, and the aim is to collect raw data, not opinions on Church doctrine or discipline, in advance of the 2014 synod. The data will help inform the bishops as they develop pastoral solutions for the challenges faced by modern families.

“Each bishop determines what is the most useful and reasonable manner of consultation to assist him in preparing his report for the Vatican,” said Don Clemmer, assistant director of media relations at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Clemmer said once a diocese completes its report, the data will be sent back to the USCCB and then forwarded on to the Vatican.

It is too early to say how each of the U.S. dioceses will handle the questionnaire. The Archdiocese of Denver’s communications office informed the Register that the archdiocese is studying how best to approach the questionnaire and will be forming a plan over the next few weeks. In the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., according to the communications office, Bishop Kevin Rhoades has not yet had an opportunity to meet with his cabinet to discuss how they will gather the survey data.

The Diocese of Harrisburg, Pa., said that it will be distributing the survey to all priests and deacons in its 15 counties and that it may include those involved in parish marriage ministries as well.

“It will be a big job to read and compile all the surveys in the short time allotted, but I feel that it will be worth it to share this information about marriage in central Pennsylvania with the larger Church,” said Victoria Laskowski, the diocese’s director of marriage and family ministries.

The responses from all the dioceses have to be returned to the Vatican by the end of January 2014.

2014 Synod

emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys Fr...

emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys Français : emblème pontifical Italiano: emblema del Papato Português: Emblema papal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The synod is set for Oct. 5-19 and will focus on “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.” The bishops and Pope Francis will discuss pastoral responses to the problems of divorce and same-sex “marriage,” as well as other challenges to the health of families.

The 39 questions in the Vatican survey form part of a preparatory document that addresses such topics as “Pastoral Care in Certain Difficult Marital Situations,” the “Union of Persons of the Same Sex,” the “Education of Children in Irregular Marriages,” “Openness of the Married Couple to Life” and the “Relationship Between the Family and the Person.”

“This is huge, to have an extraordinary synod focused specifically on the family,” said Bill May, president of Catholics for the Common Good, a lay apostolate focused on evangelizing the culture.

May is the author of a recent book called Getting the Marriage Conversation Right, and his organization has been focused on presenting the Church’s teachings on marriage and family in a compelling way.

“The questionnaire reflects an interest in trying to understand the problems of the family more deeply as they try to prepare and address it,” he said.


Vatican City

Vatican City (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

The Vatican’s worldwide survey, however, has been misunderstood by others and inaccurately described in a number of media outlets as an opinion survey or a poll of the views lay Catholics may have on marriage, family and sexuality.

Vatican officials involved with preparing for the synod have made clear that the preparatory document and questionnaire are geared toward finding pastoral solutions for the modern challenges to the family, not altering Church teaching.

Cardinal Péter Erdő, primate of Hungary, said at a Nov. 5 press conference that the aim of the Vatican survey is to obtain “concrete and real data” from dioceses to inform the synod’s discussions.

“The document contains, as well as a general presentation on the matter, various essential biblical and magisterial quotations on the theme as well as a questionnaire on the main challenges regarding the family,” Cardinal Erdő said.

One lay Catholic organization, however, has taken upon itself to publish an online version of the survey. Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good — a separate and distinct organization unrelated to Catholics for the Common Good — has posted a truncated version of the Vatican questionnaire, under a heading that reads, “Communicating the Sense of the Faithful in the United States to Pope Francis.” The organization says it will send the responses to the USCCB “and to the appropriate officials in the Vatican, including the Holy Father himself.”

Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good has been criticized by some Catholic observers, who note that it is a politically partisan group that has acted to undermine Church teachings on abortion.

During the 2008 election campaign, then-Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver publicly criticized the organization, commenting that “… the work of Democratic-friendly groups like Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good have done a disservice to the Church, confused the natural priorities of Catholic social teaching, undermined the progress pro-lifers have made and provided an excuse for some Catholics to abandon the abortion issue, instead of fighting within their parties and at the ballot box to protect the unborn.”

Only a Preparatory Document

However, it appears unlikely that anything other than the diocesan responses to the official Vatican survey will be considered.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi explained that the Vatican questionnaire is “only a document sent to bishops’ conferences throughout the world” to help prepare for the extraordinary synod.

The USCCB Office of Communications also said it could not comment about third-party surveys — only on the official survey being sent to the bishops.

Pope Francis’ call for an extraordinary synod of bishops in 2014 was announced by the Vatican in October.

The synod’s discussions on the family are expected to be taken up again in 2015, at the regular worldwide synod of bishops, which falls on the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the synodal system by Pope Paul VI.

Source: Catholic News Register







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The Catholic Church opposes gay marriage and the social acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex relationships, but teaches that homosexual persons deserve respect, justice and pastoral care. The Vatican and Pope John Paul II are speaking out against the growing number of places that recognize same-sex marriages. 

Bishops Urge Constitutional Amendment to Protect Marriage

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Administrative Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has called for a constitutional amendment to protect the unique social and legal status of marriage. 

In Catholic belief, “marriage is a faithful, exclusive and lifelong union between one man and one woman, joined as husband and wifein an intimate partnership of life and love,” the 47-bishop committee said in a statement released Sept. 10.

Marriage Day

Marriage Day (Photo credit: Fikra)


“What are called ‘homosexual unions,’ because they do not express full human complementarity and because they are inherently nonprocreative, cannot be given the status of marriage,” the committee said.

It warned that “the importance of marriage for children and for society” is under attack in U.S. courts and legislatures and in popular culture and entertainment media, which “often undermine or ignore the essential role of marriage and promote equivalence between marriage and homosexual relationships.”

The Administrative Committee — composed of the USCCB’s executive officers, elected committee chairmen and elected regional representatives — is the highest policy and decision-making body of the bishops apart from the entire body when it meets twice a year in general assembly.

The committee, which met in Washington, did not specify language for a federal marriage amendment.

Rather, it committed the bishops to promoting the “essential role of marriage … in our teaching and preaching, but also in our public policy advocacy at the state and national levels and in the important dialogue about how best to protect marriage and the common good in the U.S. Constitution and in our society as a whole.”

“We offer general support for a federal marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution as we continue to work to protect marriage in state legislatures, the courts, the Congress and other appropriate forums,” it said.

In May, a proposal to amend the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as “the union of a man and a woman” was introduced in Congress.

The bishops cited a recent Vatican document that called legal recognition of same-sex unions “gravely unjust.”

Citing marriage’s unique societal role in the procreation and raising of children, the Vatican said, “The denial of the social and legal status of marriage to forms of cohabitation that are not and cannot be marital is not opposed to justice; on the contrary, justice requires it.”

The Administrative Committee said the church clearly teaches the dignity of homosexual persons and condemns “all forms of unjust discrimination, harassment or abuse.”

The bishops said their defense of marriage focuses “on the importance of marriage, not on homosexuality or other matters.”

The growing U.S. debate over granting marriage rights or equivalent legal status to same-sex unions is part of a contemporary cultural phenomenon across the Western world.

In the United States there have been a number of court and legislative battles over the question of legal benefits for same-sex unions since 1993, when the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that the state could not exclude same-sex couples from marriage unless it could show compelling state interests and prove that its marriage laws were narrowly tailored to those interests.

That led to legislation in Hawaii granting domestic partnership benefits to same-sex couples.

Vermont adopted similar legislation in 2000 following a similar court ruling there, and a case currently before the Massachusetts Supreme Court challenges that state’s marriage laws.

In the wake of the Hawaii court decision a number of other states amended their marriage laws to ban or strengthen existing bans on same-sex “marriage,” but provision of equivalent benefits and protections to same-sex partnerships has increased on a number of fronts, including companies and some local governments deciding to provide spousal benefits to same-sex partners of employees.

Canada’s federal government has been struggling since July to create new laws implementing a Canadian Supreme Court decision that the traditional definition of marriage violates the equality provision of that nation’s constitution.

Responding to a legislative proposal to redefine marriage as “the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others,” the bishops of Canada Sept. 10 urged people to oppose “a redefinition of marriage that includes same-sex partners.”

When the Dutch Parliament voted to recognize same-sex unions as marriages in 2000, Pope John Paul II denounced the decision.

Calling marriage between a man and a woman a fundamental part of human reality and the basic unit of society, the pope said, “No other form of relationship between persons can be considered as an equivalent to this natural relationship between a man and a woman out of whose love children are born.”

In 1996 the heads of two bishops’ committees — domestic policy and marriage and family — issued a joint statement firmly opposing any “attempts to grant the legal status of marriage to a relationship between persons of the same sex.”

The following year the bishops’ conference sent all bishops a 77-page resource paper addressing the pastoral, legal, social and theological issues posed in the debate over treating same-sex unions the same as marriages.  

Source: Catholic News Service 

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The Catholic Church views marriage as not merely a necessary union in order to create more humans, but in fact as a holy covenant between a man and a woman which mirrors the relationship of Christ and His Church.

The Catholic  Church’s views marriage as permanent and only between a man and a woman, and divorce as an abomination.

The importance of the teaching & Scriptural support

Many people do not view marriage as essential or even important; it is viewed as a means to avoid sexual sin and provide for the procreation of the species, but is not actually thought to be a means by which a person can be made holy. Of course, this is not the case – the sacrament of matrimony is a source of grace and is the natural state for mankind. In the early chapters of Genesis (before the Fall) marriage is present as the right and correct state for men and women. Finally, the closing passages of the Bible in the book of Revelation speak of the marriage of Christ and the Church. Marriage is not only a source of emotional strength, but a conduit for grace and a mirror of Christ’s relationship with His Church (Ephesians 5:22-32)

The Church teaches that a man and a woman who are married are “one flesh” following Matthew 19:5-6. This is connected with Genesis 1:27 and 2:21-24 which is the prototype of marriage. These passages should be enough to show that marriage is very important indeed and is not merely an afterthought or anything of the sort.

Marriage as only between one man and one woman

In the modern world there are many notions of sex outside marriage, marriage between people of the same gender, open marriages, sexual relationships between three or more people and various other perversions of God‘s clear commandment.

Open to the transmission of new life

Similarly, a number of people maintain that they are “all for traditional marriage” but engage in the use of contraception. This is in defiance of God’s clear commands – not only is contraception opposed to the moral law but the use of contraception has knock-on effects on the rest of morality.

Marriage as a spiritually good thing

In addition to simply being the way God wants people to have children and the only way to have a sexual relationship which is not a sin, marriage and childbearing is a spiritually good thing. In Hebrews 13:4 it is made clear that marriage is to be honored by everyone – this book of the Bible is concerned with spiritual things, and so it is entirely reasonable to assume that marriage should be considered as a spiritual good. In addition, in I Timothy 2:11-15 it says that woman are saved by bearing children – this does not mean that only mothers can enter Heaven, but it means that faithfully bearing and raising children is a source of grace. In addition, it is obvious that educating children correctly and bringing them up to be a faithful Christians is a good thing. Only a family can do this effectively – further demonstrating that marriage is a good thing.

Divorce and remarriage

A number of people today consider that divorce is acceptable to God. This is clearly not the case. When speaking of marriage and divorce in Mark 10:2-12 Jesus makes it clear that man and wife are put together by Godand that man should not seek to divide that. This shows that not only is marriage ordained by God but that divorce is condemned by Him. This passage is a very clear example of the teaching concerning the permanence of marriage – but it is not the only one.

Folio 31r - David Foresees the Mystic Marriage...

Folio 31r – David Foresees the Mystic Marriage of Christ and the Church (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Malachi 2:14-16 makes it clear that God hates divorce. Matthew 5:32-33, 19:4-9, Mark 10:11-12 and Luke 16:18 make is clear that divorce and remarriage is adultery. Romans 7:2-3 and I Corinthians 7:10-11 also contain clear teaching about divorce. How anyone can argue – based on these verses which equate divorce and remarriage with adultery – that God is somehow “okay” is a mystery to the Catholic Church. Many of those who hold these views, however, have simply not read these verses – merely presenting the verses to them is often enough to prove the Catholic viewpoint.


A number of non-Catholics (and even Catholics) are of the opinion that the Catholic Church is hypocritical, condemning divorce but allowing annulments (a similar view exists among some people concerning contraception and NFP). This is based on the faulty understanding that an annulment is a Catholic divorce and breaks the marriage bond.

In the first place, the word annulment is misleading and slightly inaccurate – the correct term is a “decree of nullity”. The word annulment implies that the Church makes a choice and decision to actively annul (i.e. make void) the marriage – this is not what happens. A decree of nullity is a declaration – not that the marriage is now void – but that there never was a marriage in the first place.

The process of obtaining a decree of nullity is designed to test and see if the marriage was correctly celebrated and entered into – if it was not, then no marriage existed in the first place. The tribunal seeks to determine if there are any defects in the sacrament – were the people who entered into the marriage entering into it with full consent and knowledge of what marriage entailed? Did they hold the Catholic view of marriage? Were they psychologically capable of making the vows? Was there any deceit in the marriage, or were there things such as pre-nuptial agreements which pointed towards an acceptance of divorce? Were the two people actually able to marry (or were they already married?)

As can be imagined there are many things which can happen which would make a marriage void – that is, prevent there from being a marriage in the first place. Marriages never “become void” but it can be discovered that what people thought was a marriage was not.

In order to minimize the potential for prospective spouses to enter into a marriage which is not valid (and also to strengthen the marriage bond) the Catholic Church encourages and requires those wanting to get married to go through various courses and retreats in order to better understand what is required for them. Some couples – after learning the great commitment and devotion required for marriage – choose not to get married at that time, or indeed ever, as they feel they are incapable of it. While this can seem sad, this is much, much better than couples who are not suited being joined together in marriage.

Marriage after death

A very popular phrase spoken by lovers is “I will love you forever” – which is hopefully true, as all people want their spouses to get to Heaven, where everyone loves everyone else! But what many people mean is that they will be married forever – something which is not supported by Church teaching, although is believed by the Mormons.

Marriage is a physical joining of two people into “one flesh” and lasts only until death. It is for this reason that both men and women are allowed to marry again after being widowed – the marriage bond is dissolved on death.

This teaching – in addition to being common sense based on the fact that marriage is a physical union of man and woman (through sexual activity) which makes them one flesh, and we will not have bodies in Heaven until the resurrection of the body – follows the Scriptures. In Mark 12:18-27 Jesus is tested by the Sadducees (who denied the physical resurrection of the body). Here Jesus makes it very clear that men and women are not married in Heaven. Not only is Jesus correcting the Sadducees’ false notions about the resurrection of the body, but is also giving us very important teaching concerning the nature of marriage after death – something that most Mormons conveniently ignore.

Source: Catechism of The Catholic Church


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