I’m seeing more deacons involved in this sort of preparation—and I think the cardinal makes a compelling point.
Marriage ministry needs to be done by married couples because priests have “no credibility in this area,” Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, told a church gathering. Delivering the keynote address to 500 delegates from the Diocese of Down and Connor at the Faith and Life convention in Belfast September 30, Farrell discussed Pope Francis’s 2016 apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”) and appealed to parishes to establish study groups on the document and to train couples to teach, prepare, guide and accompany married couples. On the role of priests in marriage accompaniment and preparation, he said they had “no credibility when it comes to living the reality of marriage” even though they may know the principles, the philosophy and the theology. Speaking to Catholic News Service afterward, the Dublin-born former bishop of Dallas said parishes would have to be prepared to train laypeople for such a role, which he saw as a new model of accompaniment in line with the pope’s vision for the church. “You can’t have laypeople just talk about marriage unless they are trained to do it,” he said. Training was not purely about having knowledge but also having the ability to communicate and act as an agent of pastoral concern to accompany couples through the challenges they face, he explained.