Monday, June 25, 2007

Boston Archdiocese addresses falling number of nuptials

~from The Boston Globe

Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley has launched a campaign in which Catholic priests across the state will promote marriage through sermons and postings on bulletin boards and lead prayers for the institution's survival.

The unusual effort, which will include the printing of a million prayer cards for distribution to parishioners, comes in response to a what church officials say is a crisis in which fewer men and women are getting married .

The initiative comes less than two weeks after an effort failed in the Legislature to put a measure banning same-sex marriage on the statewide ballot. The Roman Catholic Church has opposed same-sex marriage, saying it weakens matrimony between men and women.

But a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston said the Church's push has little to do with the vote and had been in the works for months.

"The decline of marriage has been over a very long stretch, and it's been something that has been a deep concern in the church for a very long time," spokesman Terrence C. Donilon said yesterday.

In a blog item posted on the archdiocese's website on Friday, O'Malley said, "In our country, more and more people are opting not to get married but instead to cohabitate. In Massachusetts, the government has redefined marriage away from its original purpose, which is so intimately connected with having and raising children.

"Certainly, the vocation to marriage, which is the way most people live out their discipleship, is something that is very, very important. And it certainly is being obscured in our modern and secular culture," he wrote. ". . .We hope this campaign will help people to refocus on the sacramental meaning of marriage."

The campaign will also include an educational program in the fall with video presentations and speakers, including married couples, focusing on the sacrament of marriage. That program is expected to continue for at least a year, church officials said.

Church officials said the campaign would also be launched in the Worcester, Fall River, and Springfield dioceses.

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