Sunday, September 21, 2014

Are the cohabiting couples getting married because they now believe Church teaching?

So Protestant pastors are now asking whether they should follow Pope Francis and begin marrying cohabiting couples. The whole phenomenon raises a number of pertinent questions. As one reader writes:
This is telling. And disheartening. I am all for marrying cohabitating couples to legitimize their arrangement, IF they went to be Catholic. But really, does a couple want to be Catholic if they do not think living together is a sin? At what point does life in the Church entail at least the appearance of submission to corporate belief? Are they getting married because they now believe Church teaching? Would they advise others against living together? If not, we are simply swelling the ranks of people who want the name Catholic but not the belief system. And guaranteeing our families as well as ourselves will be surrounded at parish level with people who actively argue against Catholic belief. And that previous beliefs will evaporate in practice at the ground level.

But I suppose as long as we can light that essential Unity Candle, all is well...
[Hat tip to JM]


4 comments:








Tim Ferguson

said...

Cohabitation is not an impediment to marriage. Premarital sex is, of course, sinful, and cohabitation is often a pretext for premarital sex (though many couples who are not living together are also engaged in premarital sex).

Cohabitation is also a poor preparation for marriage - which is one reason why couples who live together before marriage have a higher instance of divorce. The essential question to ask couples who are cohabitating and now seek to marry is "why now?" Why is marriage important now, when it was not important when they first moved in together. Often, couples seek marriage as a way of "fixing" problems in their relationship - which points to fundamental problems in that relationship.

It is pastorally wise to ask a couple to live separately for a time before marrying them - especially if the couple began cohabitating at an early age. It can clarify many issues.

However, it's important to remember that cohabitation is not an impediment to marriage, and individual priests (or even bishops) cannot establish new impediments. Only the Supreme Legislator can do that.

If a couple already has children, it would be unwise to ask them to separate - it would unduly disrupt the life of the children. Oftentimes, couples do not have the financial means to separate - they should not be barred from marriage for this reason.

Cohabitation should be treated for what it is - a pastoral challenge, but not an obstacle to a couple marrying, especially when that couple is seeking marriage as a part of a general re-engagement in the life of the Church. Pastors need to understand that generations of poor catechesis and preaching have led people to faulty conclusions and missteps. The goal should be welcoming them back into the regular practice of the faith and an engaged relationship with Christ and His Church.





Pertinacious Papist

said...

Mr. Ferguson,

You are the embodiment of sacerdotal wisdom, with canonical know-how to boot! I cannot wait until you are a priest!





BenYachov

said...

What Dr.b/ PP said.

Good call Tim.





Anonymous

said...

"...Generations of poor catechesis and preaching have led people to faulty conclusions and missteps. The goal should be welcoming them back into the regular practice of the faith and an engaged relationship with Christ..."

The regular practice of faith would imply an agreement with basic Christian morality. If that is absent, I can't see the wisdom in letting a couple "play church." We need clarity and straight talking, and an appreciation of the seriousness that goes with commitments. Not swelled membership rolls and parents who undercut CCD. Isn't the example of Gov Cuomo worth considering. He considers himself a faithful Catholic.