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Weaker appreciation of marriage is harming society, says Pope

By on Friday, 9 March 2012

Permissive attitudes toward sex, cohabitation before marriage and acceptance of same-sex marriage can damage individuals and are harmful for society, Pope Benedict XVI has told a group of US bishops at the Vatican.

“It is in fact increasingly evident that a weakened appreciation of the indissolubility of the marriage covenant, and the widespread rejection of a responsible, mature sexual ethic grounded in the practice of chastity, have led to grave societal problems bearing an immense human and economic cost,” the Pope said.

Meeting the bishops of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, who were making their ad limina visits to report on the status of their dioceses, the Pope said ignorance of or challenges to Church teaching on marriage and sexuality were part of the “intellectual and ethical challenges” to evangelisation in the United States today.

The Pope did not focus on current tensions between the US bishops and the Obama administration, particularly over health care coverage of contraception and other practices that violate Church teaching. But at the beginning of his speech, Pope Benedict reiterated his concern about “threats to freedom of conscience, religion and worship which need to be addressed urgently so that all men and women of faith, and the institutions they inspire, can act in accordance with their deepest moral convictions”.

Concentrating his remarks on the need to promote and explain Church teaching on sexuality, the Pope said the Church’s key concern is “the good of children, who have a fundamental right to grow up with a healthy understanding of sexuality and its proper place in human relationships”.

Acknowledging the clerical sexual abuse scandal, the Pope said: “It is my hope that the Church in the United States, however chastened by the events of the past decade, will persevere in its historic mission of educating the young and thus contribute to the consolidation of that sound family life, which is the surest guarantee of intergenerational solidarity and the health of society as a whole.”

The moral virtues espoused in the Church’s teaching on sexuality are “the key to human fulfilment,” he said, because they promote sexuality as “a source of genuine freedom, happiness and the fulfilment of our fundamental and innate human vocation to love”.

“The richness of this vision is more sound and appealing than the permissive ideologies exalted in some quarters,” which are “powerful and destructive,” he said.

One of the first steps, he said, must be to help Catholics “recover an appreciation of the virtue of chastity,” which forms the human heart to love in the most authentic way.

Pope Benedict told the bishops he was aware of “the powerful political and cultural currents seeking to alter the legal definition of marriage” so that it would include same-sex couples.

“The Church’s conscientious effort to resist this pressure calls for a reasoned defence of marriage as a natural institution,” which is “rooted in the complementarity of the sexes and oriented to procreation,” he said.

“Sexual differences cannot be dismissed as irrelevant to the definition of marriage,” the pope said.

Defending traditional marriage is not simply a matter of Church teaching, he said; it is a matter of “justice, since it entails safeguarding the good of the entire human community and the rights of parents and children alike”.

Pope Benedict praised the US bishops’ 2009 letter, “Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan,” and he asked them to continue reviewing and strengthening both religious education materials and marriage preparation programsme.

In conversations with the bishops during the ad limina visits, he said, some of the bishops have expressed concern about how difficult it is to communicate the Church’s teaching effectively and some have told the Pope there are decreasing numbers of young people in their dioceses asking to be married in the church.

“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,” Pope Benedict said.

The Pope said that in responding to situations in which many engaged couples already are living together, there must be “clear pastoral and liturgical norms for the worthy celebration of matrimony which embody an unambiguous witness to the objective demands of Christian morality, while showing sensitivity and concern for young couples”.

Pope Benedict did not suggest specific norms or provide guidance on how insistent priests should be that cohabitating couples live separately before a Church wedding.

The Church itself “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,” he said.

The speech was the Pope’s third address to groups of US bishops making their ad limina visits in 2011 and 2012. Because the Pope is not delivering a formal talk to each of the 15 groups of visiting U.S. bishops, the Vatican said the March 9 speech also was addressed to bishops from Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Kansas.

Archbishop John Nienstedt of St Paul and Minneapolis, speaking on behalf of the bishops, thanked Pope Benedict for announcing a special Year of Faith, which will begin in October.

“There is a profound crisis of faith affecting large numbers of people in today’s society,” the archbishop said. “Secular values have taken hold in many minds and hearts, causing a rejection of the very notion that true human happiness is found in conforming our lives to the will of God.”

He thanked Pope Benedict for “the extraordinary leadership that you are providing in these turbulent times”.

  • Stan Zorin

    How much tax does the freemasonic satanic Orange order pays ?

  • LedZepper

    What is so great about same-sex marriage? Can someone prove that same-sex marriage will have a lower divorce rates then traditional marriage (given that same-sex marriage is legal in all states)?
    Just look at the high rising divorce rates of same-sex marriage (especially lesbian marriage) in Norway and the surrounding countries in Europe. In just a decade, their divorce rate is at that high already!
    The message here is traditional marriage should be the one and only model for the society. Other types of marriages have tried in ancient China, Greed, Rome…, but failed.  Traditional marriage has proven to work for thousands of years and it will work thousands of years from now.  Peace.

  • mitsy

    Do you understand how many Catholics are broken hearted that they have to chose between a happy second marriage or being being able to participate in the Mass? I have an aunt that is getting old before her time, firstly she is divorced through no fault of her own, her husband left and lied about why….then she gets told that her son who is gay is in grave sin and she is not Catholic if she loves and accepts him. She came from a devout family too. None of my cousins want to know either, they love their brother for a start. People blame Vatican II for the falling numbers..People are leaving because they are being rejected. It is also why I have always petrified of marriage….
    According to this thread, I am not Catholic and I never can be because I can’t think like one. I just can’t so what is the point because I don’t have the gift. What is the point in even being alive because according to people here I can’t be saved in this life.
    Do you know what it is like to be a Catholic when you come from parents that are divorced? Do you think those children ever feel welcome? Did you ever read how Cheri Booth felt as a child?

  • mitsy

    Once you are married it is too late, if it is not your vocation or you are married to someone that you are not in love with.

  • Anonymous

    Please explain what you mean.  A word about what specifically?

  • Anonymous

    Fiona – what you’re doing by loving and supporting your son is exactly what God expects of you.  And, especially in happier days, the Catholic Church.  

  • Stan Zorin

    You will always be “baptized into the Church” that Jesus Christ had founded, baptized into and part of His body which the Church is. That cannot be undone. Come to terms with this fact.You seem to have an issue with the Church which is of a personal nature. I am having a good guess because “the Catholics”, who have an ideological stance and objections of that nature against the teachings of the body to which they nominally belong, do not feel a need to go through a formal and yet emotional process of a “renunciation”. They just ignore the fact that they were once baptized. You might want to hide a personal issue behind the language and the facade of rationalism, science or “modernity” but behind it lies, I guess, a “not properly ordered” life. The Church and her teachings are a reproach against the follies and iniquities, or plain evil, of the modern world and the reaction, both societal and personal, against this reproach is two-fold. 
    One is the argument from “reason” against “the medievalism” and “the obscurantism” of catholic dogmas. This counterargument from the so-called reason and science states that we as the humans are the result of the blind material-mechanical forces, that there is no purpose to our existence [the matter of the Universe has no foreknowledge], that we are just a temporary “blip” of the existence as the carbon based structures. There are no “morals” or the notions of good or evil, these are just the utilitarian “social constructs” of the carbon based units. The science has nothing to say about our place in the Universe. The bumper sticker on this materialist[ic] vehicle says “Do what you want to do”. The Universe does not care. The weak and the unthinking take it as an admonition.The other one is the argument from “perfection” of the medieval “perfecti”, but somehow these days turned on its head. They claimed that the Church is a corrupt “false church” and its teachings are false teachings, to be rejected, because it is a part of the corrupt material world and therefore imperfect. The Perfecti claimed that their own beliefs and teachings are “perfect/perfected”.The hypocrisy or the illogic of their words did not bother them. Those who initiated and those who spread this gnostic-protofreemasonic doctrine came from the same “corrupt dust” of the earth as everybody else and sinful they were too. In our days the argument does not repeat the mistake of the Perfecti, nobody claims to be in the state of “perfection” [..although there is a milder form of it among some righteous - 'We are less corrupt than the Catholics']. Nowadays it says that as we are all the same imperfect then nobody has a right to preach, or the same in other words, the Church has no moral authority to condemn immorality and to teach because its “teachers” are not morally perfect. From this follows that one should not believe and can disregard “the dogmas”. This argument, in vast number of cases, I believe; serves as a fig leaf to hide a self indulgent libertarian urge. There is still some sense of shame in many of the liberated ones to say openly to His, Christ’s face, ‘I do not care about what you once said, I do not believe in it anymore and I am not going to live by your words’. That is why the fig leafs serve to hide the embarrassment and to soothe the conscience. There is, by design, a constant barrage of stories of the morally corrupt clergy in the news, to justify and comfort the multitudes of free “catholics” and others of their kind who are jumping the ship of the Church or who are in quiet mutiny and do not take orders anymore. The world has convinced them. Because of some rotten apples they are willing to cut down the tree so that it and its branches do not blur and interfere with the vista of freedom. What was it in your case, which of “their” arguments convinced you ?  Which of them you do use ? Because of the judases I will abandon Jesus.
    I never understood why is the argument of the bad apples never used also on the society at large, why is it being used as a stick only on the Church ? Take as an example the Academia and the scientific disciplines that they teach. There are some university lecturers, or even some elementary or high school teachers, who misuse their knowledge of mathematics to falsify their income tax returns. Why, as a result, does not the mass media and the society at large, claim that the schools and the universities should be avoided, that the professors have no authority to teach others and that the mathematical dogmas should not be believed ? 
    Do you really understand what the Church is teaching as “morals and ethics” ? Do you know its history ? Did the world convince you, you were an easy prey, because you were an ignoramus ? Is it “the miracles” that are the stumbling block for you? Why nobody ridicules the science when it “sells” its own miracles, like the miracle of the whole Universe being squeezed into a point, or the subatomic particle being in 2 places at the same time, or the matter of the Universe “erupting” [being created] out of nothing [ex nihilo] at “the Big Bang” ? The whole quantum physics is one big bag of miraculous tricks.
    Another question, Did you check thoroughly the moral purity of all those that sold you the scientific or libertarian vision of the modern world ? Why not ? Are you afraid that as a result you will have to stop believing them ?
    We are here to continue the order of life and not to wreck it.
    Sometimes, in order to know the value of what we have, we have to lose it first.
    You will learn.

  • Oconnord

    So who elected the pope? (Yes I know). Does the pope consider the views of his populace? Who has the right to state infallible dictates then ex-communicate those who oppose those infallible papal decisions? Does ever he reverse his decisions because he has the gift of hindsight?

    Who is the the ultimate Dictator?

  • EndTimes101

     Last time i checked it was not compulsory to Practice Catholicism. Anyone and everyone is free to accept or reject the Popes words, hence no dictatorship. Do try harder…..

  • Oconnord

    It is no longer compulsory to be a catholic, but at the time the church ran things it was. 

    I cannot be an ex-catholic, or even a heretic worthy of removal, so I must listen to your pope. He asserts his right to control and judge me from near birth. He asserts that I will receive eternal torment if I don’t obey his rules.

    He is the ultimate dictator because he not only wants to control my life here, he claims to have a knowledge that unless I obey him I will suffer in some future existence.    

  • Oconnord

    First can I advise you to use paragraphs. You aren’t writing your thesis so please remember us poor plebs are reading a comment on a blog.

    I got bored reading your comment, then I made myself read it all. It falls apart because you assume the existence of a god. From the first sentence onwards it is an epic fail.

     As you said ” I never understood why is the argument of ”
    I  doubt your ability to understand any cogent argument. 

  • Londonistar

    Fiona clearly doesnt even understand the teachings of the Church if she pretends that the Church discriminates actively against her son. Protecting the institution of marriage as a lifelong union between a man and woman to raise children is not discrimination. Or does Nature itself discriminate when it renders two men unable to procreate? Neither does the Church discriminate against gays directly outside of this debate. Why pretend to be Catholic if you cannot grasp ots teachings or pretend it is doing something it is not. It and God loves all.

  • EndTimes101

     In all seriousness Oconnord, i suggest you talk to your doctor/professional about your outlook/mentality if you really believe the things you are coming out with. If you don’t believe/feel you have any control in your own life you are warping reality and destroying your chance a living a fulfilled life. Good luck.

  • Bridget

    But you must care what the RCC says, what reason could you have for posting on a Catholic website? I just do not understand why so many people who cannot stand the RC church take the time and bother to post. I personally could not be bothered to look at never mind on an atheist site.

  • Bridget

    ‘He did little more than turn water into wine’ Wow, you have high expectations if you can classify that as ‘little’

  • over 60

    Marriage is a sacrament and should remain so, as is the Religious life for Priests, Monks, Nuns etc..  Do we say that The Religious should not be trained and ordained?.
    Marriage is for two people who love each other and are going to continue the Human Race, naturally, if possible.
    Two people of the same sex cannot do the latter. Why does The Church ban contraception? Not necessary in same sex relationships. There is nothing wrong in Civil Partnerships but Marriage between homosexuals is, I think,  not necessary or normal.
    Lots of heterosexual couples don’t bother to get married these days, which is such a shame as they are missing the Blessings of a Sacrament. This in turn sets a bad example to our children and in some cases it brings misery to the children ( I have personal experience of this). Other children at school can be so cruel. Imagine what fun they might have with such a child with two mummies or daddies.How will they explain to their children how they were conceived?, When a child learns it is adopted by heterosexual parents it often causes great distress and hurt, imagine knowing you were the product of an unknown donor of eggs or sperm.?
    I wonder what else this Government is going to try and change and destroy. The mind boggles!!!

  • Agusti

    I agree with the Catholic Church, the weaker appreciation of marriage is taking down the society. I do not deny that some fathers or mothers who are alone achieve to teach good values to their children, However, many children are growing up without emotional stability and this creates selfishness, and when it isn’t this they have a psychological problem. 

  • Honeybadger

    Really. Sarcasm becomes you.

  • Honeybadger

    Who’s rational?

  • Honeybadger

    So, that is what they are teaching at convents, eh?

  • Honeybadger

    Hell DOES exist.

  • Honeybadger

    And you know all about Gobbledygook!

  • Honeybadger

    As Pete St. John wrote in the lyrics of Dublin in The Rare Old Times: ‘the gargles dim my brain’

    I think Jane Brady’s brain was dimmed long before the Glenlivit punished her liver… and gave her delerium tremens… which is why, like a well qualified soak, she spends time limbering up for a trophy for the best catholic basher!

  • Honeybadger

    Oh, boy! Another seminarian/convent school reject!

    I’ve heard it being said that the longer you work for royalty, the more republican you become.

    It’s the same with you.

  • Honeybadger

    Your Royal Superciliousness,

    Compassion, sympathy, reassurance and respect goes both ways, you know!

    What’s insensitive and ignorant about that, reject?

    There is a true saying: If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!

    And, besides – are you another mouthpiece for Jesus of Nazareth, like your good bud Jane Brady?

    Pope Benedict XVI is the mouthpiece of Christ.

    I’d rather listen to him than put up with your facile accusations directed at me.

    I dread to think what Jesus of Nazareth would say to you… you are hardly the paragon of whatever it is you are the paragon of.

  • Honeybadger

    Jesus of Nazareth is reading and listening to you… and is taking notes…

  • Honeybadger

    Cromwell… now, he really HATED Catholics, didn’t he?

    Many Germans back when Hitler was in power believed exactly the same things.

    It took World War II to make them face up to the bitter reality.

  • Honeybadger

    Ah, so you would like Simon Cowell to organise the next conclave – the Pope Factor!

    You wish! LOL!

    The Pope works for a man who has no boss – GOD.

  • Honeybadger

    Right on!

  • Honeybadger

    …is the RIGHT answer!

  • Honeybadger

    Oh, here we go! This is getting very tiresome, so it is! Talk about mixed up!
    Since when has Honeybadger changed their moniker to Scapegoat, all of a sudden?
    There is clearly a literacy crisis on this board! Harrrumph!
    Look, I don’t give a formaldehyde fairy cake for, the tincey wincey National Secular Society or any of their tiny-minded little ilk.
    It is just a nonsense. It’s a website specially set up for those who want to spit the dummy like spoilt brats who stamp their feet because they don’t get their own way.
    Only God can un-baptise you – He doesn’t want to because He loves you.
    If you persistently reject His loving grace, then you are lost forever to Him but run to Him before time runs out.

  • Garyryates

    End Times 101 is right and you are dead wrong; the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Doctors of the Church tell us that Homosexuality is a mortal sin. That you, and other Moderns, find this fact unnerving is your problem. Contemplate the Last Four Things,    

  • Callum22

    Fiona you seriously misunderstand the teachings of
    the Catholic Church! The Church has and will always adhere to their traditional teaching
    concerning homosexuality! Yes, you and your family should continue to love and
    support your son, despite his decision to live as a homosexual but that does not
    mean that you should attempt to legitimize this way of life! It is not only
    against nature but the teachings (from the time of Christ until now) which
    describe homosexuality as a grave sin! If you reject the Church’s teachings on
    this issue I suggest you find another religion!

  • roi982

    So what you’re saying is: whatever the government/society deems as an acceptable way of living is the right way to go –

    The church should adhere to what the world thinks and
    not the other way round?


  • Lionheart

    I suggest all those Catholics out there who disagree
    with the Church’s current (and non-negotiable) position on homosexuality should
    leave and create their own splinter group! To be Catholic (in the traditional
    sense of the word) is to accept everything that the Church teaches!

  • tony

    Surprise, surprise! Have only just realised that the offical stance of the Church concerning Homosexuality?! “The Catholic Church is so far from perfect” no actually it’s the religious priests, nuns, lay people etc who are far from perfect!! The Church is the bride of Christ and therefore very holy!