Pastoral Initiative on Marriage Offered

U.S. Bishops Will Have Chance to Approve It

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WASHINGTON, D.C., OCT. 31, 2004 ( U.S. bishops will be asked to approve a National Pastoral Initiative on Marriage when they hold their fall meeting here Nov. 15-18.

More than 250 bishops will attend the meeting of the U.S. bishops’ conference.

The proposal for a National Pastoral Initiative on Marriage comes from the Bishops’ Committee on Marriage and Family Life, chaired by Bishop J. Kevin Boland. It envisions a multi-year and multi-faceted project to strengthen marriage, primarily within the Catholic community but also as a service to society.

«The current debate about marriage and same-sex unions has produced a heightened level of public interest in questions about the nature, purposes, and value of marriage,» the proposal states.

It continues: «For nearly ten years a social movement in favor of marriage has been growing within various sectors of U.S. society, including the religious sector. At the same time, the marriage rate, in the general population and among Catholics, continues to decline. These and many other factors create a timely, teachable moment for the Church. A pastoral letter at this time could deliver a needed, positive, pro-marriage message-one that is oriented more toward affirming and strengthening marriage than toward countering certain threats.»

Moreover, the proposal continued, the initiative would allow bishops to engage a variety of people, especially married couples themselves, in a fruitful conversation about marriage.

If approved, the marriage initiative, to be carried out in three phases, would begin in January 2005 and extend at least through 2007.

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