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Vatican gives guidelines to expand marriage prep

bouquet de mariée 2022


I.Media - published on 06/17/22

Pope expresses his hopes that couples don't lose confidence in love.

Rome is taking a fresh look at the preparation of couples for Catholic marriage. The Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life published a guide on June 15, 2022, for those involved in this pastoral work. It gives orientations to dioceses, which are invited to launch “a pilot project” in parishes.

Pope Francis wrote the preface of the document, warning against the dire consequences of insufficient marriage prep, including null marriages, or those with “foundations that are so fragile they crumble in a short time.”

“Catechumenal Itineraries for Married Life,” has so far been released in Italian and Spanish

The Church devotes many years to the preparation of future priests and religious, he reflected, and at times only “a few weeks” to those preparing for marriage.

The challenge is to accompany young people to overcome immaturity, to live relationships that are not “possessive or narcissistic” and to have enough “capacity and will” to continue after the “initial enthusiasm” fades.

The document, which is about 100 pages long, is structured around three phases: preparation for marriage; the celebration of the wedding; and accompaniment during the first years of married life, especially “in times of crisis and discouragement.”

On this last point, the Pope calls for the elaboration of another document, specifically for the accompaniment of the divorced-married.

In the preamble, the dicastery specifies that this preparation does not consist in “transmitting notions.”

“The matrimonial catechumenate is not preparation for an ‘exam to be passed,’ but for a ‘life to be lived,'” the text reads.

The document suggests rites geared for the engaged couple, such as the presentation of a Bible, a presentation of the couple to the parish community, the blessing of the engagement rings… avoiding, however, an “excessive public display” that could diminish the freedom of the engaged couple.

The dicastery asks that other couples be involved in this pastoral accompaniment, and also recommends that experts be called in for certain topics, such as bioethical issues related to sexuality. These can present “problematic moral aspects” that require “specific formation and clear ideas.”

Those involved in marriage preparation also have a “serious duty” to bring out “the real intentions of the engaged couple,” Rome emphasizes. Those who “explicitly and formally reject” the Church’s principles cannot be admitted to the sacrament.

The authors of the text also call for the courage to propose chastity, “even though today it is in direct conflict with the common mentality.”

After marriage, they make suggestions for keeping the flame alive: a spouse’s diary, the renewal of marital promises on the most important anniversaries, and specific support for couples in crisis.

Of course, the Pope emphasizes in his preface, this document does not propose “magic formulas that work automatically.”

These guidelines need to be “received, adapted and put into practice in concrete situations.” All this so that couples “never lose confidence in love,” the Pontiff hopes.

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