Catholic trends in marriage mirror society's, but vision is different
Published: December 20, 2011
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Like the number of marriages among Americans in general, the number of marriages performed in the Catholic Church has been in decline over the past few decades. "Since 1972, the number of marriages celebrated in a Catholic church has fallen nearly 60 percent" in the U.S., said Sheila Garcia, associate director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, citing a study conducted for the secretariat by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University and released in 2008. In 1972, there were 8.6 marriages in the church per 1,000 Catholics, but last year the figure was 2.6 church marriages for every 1,000 Catholics, she said. That trend is among the reasons that led the bishops to launch their National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage in 2004 and the related "For Your Marriage" website to help people better understand the Catholic viewpoint on marriage and to strengthen the bonds of couples, whether they are Catholic or not, married in the church or not. "What we have said is that you need three things to support marriage -- a vision, skills and a supportive community," Garcia told Catholic News Service. "The church clearly offers a vision for marriage. We believe you can have a marriage that is faithful, permanent and open to children. We believe with God's grace that can be achieved." Through practical articles on such topics as finance and communications, the website at http://foryourmarriage.org offers tools to help couples strengthen their marriages. A campaign involving television and radio spots, print ads and billboards works to communicate the message that "the church cares about marriage as an institution and cares about your marriage," Garcia said. "You can turn to the church for support."
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