A week ago today, Pope Benedict delivered his Ad Limina address to the American bishops assembled in the Vatican. The Pope spoke briefly on several serious issues facing the Church in the United States, but one issue in particular stuck out to me, and it’s not just an issue of the American Church, but also a very serious problem here in Canada, and throughout the western world.
I’m referring, of course, to the issue of poor Catholic marriage preparation programs. (This has also been discussed by LifeSiteNews and RealCatholicTV)
I wanted to share some choice quotes, as well as my thoughts on this whole issue.
“Certainly we must acknowledge deficiencies in the catechesis of recent decades, which failed at times to communicate the rich heritage of Catholic teaching on marriage as a natural institution elevated by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament, the vocation of Christian spouses in society and in the Church, and the practice of marital chastity. This teaching… needs to be restored to its proper place in preaching and catechetical instruction.”
Wow! The pope gets right to the heart of the problem here. The biggest cause of the moral degradation within the Church is most definitely this deficiency in catechesis. And while this is a very polite and reserved statement, Benedict doesn’t mince words either. It really can be seen as the verbal equivalent of a swift kick in the rear end for these Bishops, a wake-up call to get the teaching of the faith in their dioceses back in line with the truth.
Our good Pope goes on to be even more specific:
“On the practical level, marriage preparation programs must be carefully reviewed to ensure that there is greater concentration on their catechetical component and their presentation of the social and ecclesial responsibilities entailed by Christian marriage. In this context we cannot overlook the serious pastoral problem presented by the widespread practice of cohabitation, often by couples who seem unaware that it is gravely sinful, not to mention damaging to the stability of society.”
The emphasis is mine. This is another powerful call to action for the Bishops. I know I’ve seen couples in my own local parishes who have gone through the marriage prep courses and even come out not knowing that there was anything wrong with cohabitation. This is a tragedy, for these couples, for their future children, and for society! If there is one thing we can conclusively say from statistical data, it’s that marriages that begin with premarital cohabitation are much more likely to fail, and fail early. Three quarters of these marriages will not even make it past the five year mark.
Catholics, we need to hear and listen to our Pope. Whether you are a bishop, a priest, someone involved in catechesis, or just a regular parishioner, it’s time to take a stand for the truth! Nothing but the truth can help couples in this situation, and we’ve seen what generations of soft and dishonest teaching has done to our youth.
Remember, as Benedict said in his first homily as Pope, “if we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, absolutely nothing, of what makes life free, beautiful and great.”
God bless your lent