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Posts Tagged ‘Divorce’

Divorce Statistics Indicate Catholic Couples Are Less Likely to Break Up

In 07 Observations on 2015/10/22 at 12:00 AM
by WAYNE LAUGESEN 
blog.adw.org 

WASHINGTON — An oft-repeated tale says Catholic marriages fare only slightly better than those among the rest of the American population — which is said to have a divorce rate of about 50%. If it were ever true, new research tells us it’s no longer the case.

“I’ve long been under the impression, without investigating the numbers, that this idea of Catholic marriages failing at about 50% is faulty,” said Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs, Colo.

So the bishop was pleased to see data compiled by Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate that shows Catholic marriages doing well, relative to marriages in the general population. Officials of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) share his enthusiasm.

“The lower rates of divorce among Catholics compared to the overall population is an encouraging statistic that we can learn from,” said Bethany Meola, assistant director of the Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Georgetown center reported in late September that a variety of national surveys show “Catholics stand out with only 28% of the ever-married having divorced at some point.”

While 28% remains a troubling statistic, the research suggests that this figure compares favorably with the 40% divorce rate for those with no religious affiliation, 39% for Protestants and 35% for those of other religious faiths.

Overall, 26% of all American adults have divorced, whereas 20% of Catholics have done so.

When statisticians looked more closely at the data dealing with Catholics, they found that Catholics who marry people of the same faith have a lower divorce rate than Catholics who marry non-Catholics.

Among mixed marriages, Catholics who marry Protestants or non-religious spouses have a divorce rate of 49% and 48% respectively. Catholics who marry someone of an “other” non-Protestant religion, such as Judaism, have a 35% rate, while Catholics who marry Catholics have a 27% divorce rate.

Not Surprising

“Practicing Catholics, especially those who enter matrimony with a practicing Catholic, have significantly lower divorce rates,” blogged Msgr. Charles Pope, pastor of Washington’s Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian Catholic Church, after studying the new research. “Of course, it makes sense, doesn’t it? The faith lived seeks God’s help.”

Christian Meert, diocesan director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life in Colorado Springs, Colo., isn’t surprised by the numbers either.

“If they are both Catholics and practice the sacraments and pray together, they will grow through every event in their lives,” Meert told the Register. “They also have received an incredible grace through the sacrament of matrimony, a grace that helps them through the difficulties life brings.”

Though Bishop Sheridan says Catholic marriage rates must improve, he suggested that a growing number of Catholic dioceses have made progress with solid marriage-preparation standards and doctrinal teachings that forbid contraception and explain natural family planning (NFP) to engaged couples.

“From everything I have read and heard, NFP really does add to the intimacy of the husband and wife,” Bishop Sheridan explained.

“It calls the husband and wife to bring attention to the sexual relationship. I have heard a great number of testimonials about this.”

Bishop Sheridan welcomed Christian Meert and his wife, Christine Meert, into his diocese after meeting the couple about a decade ago. Together, the French immigrants founded and began running the growing business CatholicMarriagePrepOnline.com.

The interactive Internet-based curriculum has become widely used throughout the world to help Catholics discern and prepare for marriage.

“It became our program with a few tweaks and moderations, and they have marketed it internationally,” Bishop Sheridan said. “I know other bishops are paying attention to it.”

Different Approach

Meert said that, in the past, the Church’s typical approach to marriage preparation involved important instruction on practical matters of finance and communication, “even if not in an always very Christian way.”

He said many of the programs did a poor job of following up with couples and did not instruct them in important matters of the faith.

“Many of them were stuck in dealing with just communication and finances, when the duty of the Church is to catechize, evangelize these couples and help them encounter Jesus and convert,” Meert said.

“The duty is to help them learn about the teachings of the Church, the formation of conscience, the sacrament of matrimony, prayer and all that pertains to the spiritual life.”

Meert hopes the growing popularity of pre-Cana programs, which adhere strictly to Church teachings on married life, will make a difference and improve success rates of Catholic marriages.

The USCCB’s Meola credited a variety of modern diocesan marriage-preparation programs throughout the United States with strengthening Catholic marriages and lowering divorce statistics.

“One likely reason for this lower divorce rate is that the Church has been a leader in modeling the need for adequate time for marriage preparation and formation, and many high-quality marriage-preparation programs are available throughout the country,” Meola explained.

Marriage: A Lifetime Vocation

Meola said marriage-preparation courses make a difference because they instill what should be obvious but often is not among today’s young adults: Marriage is a lifelong vocation.

“It’s not a product to be bought and then discarded at one’s convenience,” Meola said. “The ‘pause’ of marriage preparation helps couples pray, discuss and reflect on the significance of what they are planning to undertake. … Hopefully, the more the good news about God’s plan for marriage can be promoted and witnessed, the more young people will be attuned and open to God’s beautiful plan for them.”

The Georgetown research also found a decrease in the rate of annulments in the United States, which accounted for a staggering 49% of worldwide annulments in 2011.

In 1990, one annulment was introduced for every 4.5 Catholic marriages. Though the United States continues to lead with this statistic, the number had dropped to one for every 6.5 marriages in 2011.

Bishop Sheridan expressed hope that the promising data indicate a strengthening of Catholic marriages, but he worries it may signify something else.

“We cannot automatically assume that a drop in annulments means marriages are doing better,” the bishop said.

“My concern is that fewer people who could potentially benefit from a decree of nullity are petitioning for it. A growing number may be unaware that it exists. I sometimes worry that divorced people are sort of looking away, going to Communion and living as if it’s just fine, and they don’t have to do anything. I think it’s a question we have to ask and begin to explore.”

Wayne Laugesen writes from Colorado.

National Catholic Register 11/14/13

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Relationship Between Faith and Marriage

In 07 Observations on 2013/03/08 at 12:00 AM

The Holy Father’ address focused on the relationship between faith and marriage in light of the “current crisis of faith that affects various areas of the world, bearing with it a crisis of conjugal society.”

“The Code of Canon Law defines the natural reality of marriage as the irrevocable covenant between a man and a woman. Mutual trust, in fact, is the indispensable basis of any agreement or covenant. On a theological level, the relationship between faith and marriage has an even deeper meaning. Even though a natural reality, the spousal bond between two baptised persons has been elevated by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament.”

“Contemporary culture, marked by a strong subjectivism and an ethical and religious relativism, poses serious challenges to the person and the family. First, the very capacity of human beings to bond themselves to another and whether a union that lasts an entire life is truly possible. … Thinking that persons might become themselves while remaining ‘autonomous’ and only entering into relationships with others that can be interrupted at any time is part of a widespread mentality. Everyone is aware of how a human being’s choice to bind themself with a bond lasting an entire life influences each person’s basic perspective according to which they are either anchored to a merely human plane or open themselves to the light of faith in the Lord.”

“‘Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing,’ Jesus taught His disciples, reminding them of the human being’s essential incapacity to carry out alone that which is necessary for the true good. Rejecting the divine proposal leads, in fact, to a profound imbalance in all human relationships, including marriage, and facilitates an erroneous understanding of freedom and self-realization. These, together with the flight from patiently borne suffering, condemns humanity to becoming locked within its own selfishness and self-centredness. On the contrary, accepting faith makes human persons capable of giving themselves … and thus of discovering the extent of being a human person.”

“Faith in God, sustained by God’s grace, is therefore a very important element in living mutual devotion and conjugal faithfulness. This does not mean to assert that faithfulness, among other properties, are not possible in the legitimate marriage between unbaptised couples. In fact, it is not devoid of goods that ‘come from God the Creator and are included, in a certain inchoative way, in the marital love that unites Christ with His Church’. But, of course, closing oneself off from God or rejecting the sacred dimension of the conjugal bond and its value in the order of grace make the concrete embodiment of the highest model of marriage conceived of by the Church, according to God’s plan, arduous. It may even undermine the very validity of the covenant if … it results in a rejection of the very principle of the conjugal obligation of faithfulness or of other essential elements or properties of the marriage.”

“Tertullian, in his famous “Letter to His Wife”, which speaks about married life marked by faith, writes that Christian couples are truly ‘two in one flesh. Where the flesh is one, one is the spirit too. Together they pray, together prostrate themselves, together perform their fasts; mutually teaching, mutually exhorting, mutually sustaining one another.’”

“The saints who lived their matrimonial and familial union within a Christian perspective were able to overcome even the most adverse situations, sometimes achieving the sanctification of their spouse and children through a love reinforced by a strong faith in God, sincere religious piety, and an intense sacramental life. Such experiences, marked by faith, allow us to understand, even today, how precious is the sacrifice offered by the spouse who has been abandoned or who has suffered a divorce—’being well aware that the valid marriage bond is indissoluble, and refraining from becoming involved in a new union. … In such cases their example of fidelity and Christian consistency takes on particular value as a witness before the world and the Church’.”

Lastly, I would like to reflect briefly on the ‘bonum coniugum’. Faith is important in carrying out the authentic conjugal good, which consists simply in wanting, always and in every case, the welfare of the other, on the basis of a true and indissoluble ‘consortium vitae’. Indeed, the context of Christian spouses living a true ‘communio coniugalis’ has its own dynamism of faith by which the ‘confessio’—the personal, sincere response to the announcement of salvation—involves the believer in the action of God’s love. ‘Confessio’ and ‘caritas’ are ‘the two ways in which God involves us, make us act with Him, in Him and for humanity, for His creation. … “Confessio” is not an abstract thing, it is “caritas”, it is love. Only in this way is it really the reflection of divine truth, which as truth is also, inseparably, love’.”

“Only through the call of love, does the presence of the Gospel become not just a word but a living reality. In other words, while it is true that ‘Faith without charity bears no fruit, while charity without faith would be a sentiment constantly at the mercy of doubt’, we must conclude that ‘Faith and charity each require the other, in such a way that each allows the other to set out along its respective path.’ If this holds true in the broader context of communal life, it should be even more valuable to the conjugal union. It is in that union, in fact, that faith makes the spouses’ love grow and bear fruit, giving space to the presence of the Triune God and making the conjugal life itself, lived thusly, to be ‘joyful news’ to the world.”

“I recognize the difficulties, from a legal and a practical perspective, in elucidating the essential element of the ‘bonum coniugum’, understood so far mainly in relation to the circumstance of invalidity. The ‘bonum coniugum’ also takes on importance in the area of simulating consent. Certainly, in cases submitted to your judgement, there will be an ‘in facto’ inquiry that can verify the possible validity of the grounds for annulment, predominant to or coexistent with the three Augustinian ‘goods’: procreativity, exclusivity, and perpetuity. Therefore, don’t let it escape your consideration that there might be cases where, precisely because of the absence of faith, the good of the spouses is damaged and thus excluded from the consent itself. For example, this can happen when one member of the couple has an erroneous understanding of the martial bond or of the principle of parity or when there is a refusal of the dual union that characterizes the marital bond by either excluding fidelity or by excluding the use of intercourse ‘humano modo’.

“With these considerations I certainly do not wish to suggest any facile relationship between a lack of faith and the invalidity of a marital union, but rather to highlight how such a deficiency may, but not necessarily, damage the goods of marriage, since the reference to the natural order desired by God is inherent to the conjugal covenant.”

VIS 130128

Divorced People Are Not “Outside” the Church

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2012/11/30 at 9:20 AM

Vatican City, 3 June 2012 (VIS) – Yesterday evening, almost half a million people attended the “Celebration of Witnesses” at Bresso Park in Milan, Italy, one of events of the seventh World Meeting of Families. The Holy Father arrived at 8.30 p.m. to participate in the celebration during which he answered questions put to him by various families on subjects which included the economic crisis, the position of divorced people in the Church and the indissolubility of Marriage. Benedict XVI also recalled his own infancy and family life.

An engaged couple from Madagascar who are studying at university in Italy spoke of the anxiety they felt when faced with the “forever” of Marriage. The Pope explained that falling in love, being an emotion, is not eternal. “The emotion of love must be purified”, he said, “it must undertake a journey of discernment in which the mind and the will also come into play. … In the rite of Marriage the Church does not ask whether you are in love but whether you want, whether you are resolved. In other words, falling in love must become true love; it must involve the will and the mind in a journey (which is the period of engagement) of purification, of greater profundity so that it is truly all of man, with all his capacities, with the discernment of reason and the force of will, who says: ‘Yes, this is my life'”. The Holy Father also mentioned other important factors such as communion of life with others, with friends, the Church, the faith and God Himself.

A Brazilian family raised the issue of divorced couples who have remarried and cannot avail themselves of the Sacraments. Benedict XVI affirmed that “this is one of the the great causes of suffering for the Church today, and we do not have simple solutions. … Naturally, one very important factor is prevention. This means ensuring that, from the beginning, the act of falling love is transformed in a more profound and mature decision. Another factor is that of accompanying people during marriage, to ensure that families are never alone but find authentic company on their journey. We must tell people in this situation that the Church loves them, but they must see and feel this love”. Parishes and other Catholic communities “must do everything possible so that such people feel loved and accepted, that they are not ‘outsiders’ even if they cannot receive absolution and the Eucharist. They must see that they too live fully within the Church. … The Eucharist is real and shared if people truly enter into communion with the Body of Christ. Even without the ‘corporeal’ assumption of the Sacrament, we can be spiritually united to Christ”. It is important for divorced couples “to have the chance to live a life of faith, … to see that their suffering is a gift for the Church, because they also help others to defend the stability of love, of Marriage; … theirs is a suffering in the community of the Church for the great values of our faith”.

A Greek family asked the Pope what families affected by the economic crisis can do not to lose hope. “Words are insufficient”, the Holy Father replied. “We should do something tangible and we all suffer because we are unable to do so. First let us speak of politics. I believe that all parties should show an increased sense of responsibility, that they should not make promises they cannot keep, that they should not seek votes only for themselves but show responsibility for the common good of everyone, in the awareness that politics is also a human and moral responsibility before God and man”. Moreover, each of must do everything we can “with a great sense of responsibility and in the knowledge that sacrifices are necessary if we are to prevail”. The Holy Father also suggested that families help one another, and that parishes and cities do likewise, supporting one another with material assistance and never forgetting to pray.

A seven year old girl from Vietnam asked the Pope to say something about his own family and infancy. Benedict XVI recalled the essential importance Sunday had had for his family. “Sunday began on Saturday afternoon when my father would tell us the Sunday readings. … Thus we entered into the liturgy in an atmosphere of joy. The next day we would go to Mass. I lived near Salzburg so there was always music – Mozart, Schubert, Haydn – and when the ‘Kyrie’ began it was as if the sky itself had opened. … We were of one heart and soul, with many shared experiences even through difficult times because there was the war and before that the dictatorship, then poverty. But the reciprocal love that existed between us, the joy in simple things was so strong that we could bear and overcome these things. …Thus we grew up in the certainty that it is good to be human, because we could see the goodness of God reflected in parents and siblings. … In this context of trust, joy and love we were happy and I think that heaven must be similar to my youth. In this sense I hope ‘to go home’ when I go ‘to the other part of the world'”.

VIS120603