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Canadian couple works to improve marriages with ‘tuneups’



SASKATOON, Saskatchewan — Phil and Mary Wrubleski are eager to bring practical marriage enrichment opportunities to couples in the Diocese of Saskatoon.

The couple, who chair the diocesan marriage task force, are examining marriage mentoring, in which a younger couple is invited to meet monthly with a more-established couple in the parish who is trained to engage in helpful conversations about marriage, life and children. Read more »

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Rush to guidelines? U.S. bishops should have discussed pope’s marriage document first, new cardinal says


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Cardinal-designate Kevin J. Farrell believes the U.S. bishops as a whole should have discussed pastoral guidelines for implementing Pope Francis’ exhortation on the family before individual bishops began issuing guidelines for their own dioceses. Read more »

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The ‘Joy of Love’ is an affirmation worth the read


Catholic News Service

It probably shouldn’t be necessary to have pastoral letters or papal encyclicals or apostolic exhortations (or any other official church document) to tell us what we should already know: that marriage and the family life it creates are holy and sacred. Read more »

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U.S. bishops developing pastoral plan for family life, marriage


Catholic News Service

BALTIMORE — As a way to move forward in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage this year, U.S. bishops are planning to develop a pastoral plan for marriage and family life.

The pastoral plan, according to Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, will seek the input of the nation’s Catholic bishops.

Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, N.Y., speaks during a news conference Nov. 16 during the 2015 fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, N.Y., speaks during a news conference Nov. 16 during the 2015 fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

He spoke about the plan Nov. 16 in Baltimore during an afternoon session at the annual fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, said the Supreme Court’s decision was a “great disappointment,” but it was not unexpected.

In comments from the floor about the court’s decision and how the church should proceed, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, said Catholic leaders need to approach the court’s decision much like they did the Roe v. Wade court decision legalizing abortion.

Bishop R. Daniel Conlon of Joliet, Illinois, similarly said the court’s decision opened up opportunities for catechesis.

Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, California, said the church also needs to look at economic reasons for why people aren’t marrying and reach out to these couples.

In a report on this year’s observance of the Fortnight for Freedom, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, told the assembled bishops that the theme for 2016 will be “Witnesses to Freedom.”

“The fortnight gives us an opportunity to remember those witnesses past and present through the church, witnesses who testify to the meaning of freedom of conscience and the obedience of the truth,” he said.

The two-week event will include a nationwide tour of first-class relics of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, both of whom were martyred for their faith. Archbishop Lori said details of the tour have yet to be arranged, but that a schedule will be distributed when it is finalized.

The committee is producing a video on religious liberty that can be used by small parish groups and family gatherings to learn about the importance of religious liberty, the archbishop added.

The video’s release will coincide with 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on Religious Freedom, “Dignitatis Humanae.”

Companion study guides and discussion questions are being developed to coincide with the release, the archbishop said.

The effort is being worked on in conjunction with the Knights of Columbus.


Contributing to this story was Dennis Sadowski. Follow Zimmermann and Sadowski on Twitter: @carolmaczim and @DennisSadowski.

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Fidelity, truth, love must guide church outreach to families, pope says at Mass for Synod of Bishops


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — In a world filled with challenges to marriage and family life, the Catholic Church is called “to carry out her mission in fidelity, truth and love,” Pope Francis said at the Mass opening the world Synod of Bishops on the family.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, arrives for the opening Mass of the Synod of Bishops on the family celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Oct. 4. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, arrives for the opening Mass of the Synod of Bishops on the family celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Oct. 4. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Formally opening the synod Oct. 4 with a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, the pope said the church must encourage families and defend faithful love, the sacredness of every human life and “the unity and indissolubility” of marriage.

At the same time, he said, the church must carry out its mission with charity, not only “not pointing a finger in judgment of others,” but also seeking out all who are lonely and in pain, caring for “hurting couples with the balm of acceptance and mercy.”

The synod was scheduled to last until Oct. 25, discussing ways to strengthen the church’s support of families and its outreach to those struggling to live fully the Catholic ideals of marriage and family life. Marriage preparation, sexuality, procreation, communication, support for couples at risk of separation, accompaniment of divorced Catholics and possible ways to bring back the divorced and civilly remarried were all expected to be on the synod’s agenda.

The readings for the Mass were the same as those used in Catholic parishes around the world for Oct. 4, the 27th Sunday in ordinary time. But, the pope said, they seemed tailor-made for opening an assembly dedicated to the family. The first reading was the Genesis account of God seeing Adam alone and creating a helpmate for him; the Gospel included Jesus’ teaching that “what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”

The Genesis story, the pope said in his homily, makes clear that the “drama of solitude” experienced by too many people — the elderly, the abandoned, widows and widowers, migrants, the persecuted — is not part of God’s plan.

The modern world, he said, seems to offer “many pleasures, but few loves; many liberties, but little freedom” and “the number of people who feel lonely keeps growing.”

Yet the experience of Adam, and of human beings down through history, shows that “nothing makes man’s heart as happy as another heart like his own, a heart which loves him,” the pope said. God made man and woman “to complement” each other, “to love and to be loved, and to see their love bear fruit in children.”

Many people today doubt whether a lifelong marriage is possible or even desirable, thinking that it limits individual freedom and potential, the pope said. But at the same time, people “chase after fleeting loves while dreaming of true love; they chase after carnal pleasures but desire total self-giving.”

Reciting the Angelus prayer after Mass, Pope Francis said the 270 synod members would keep their “gaze fixed on Jesus to identify on the basis of his teaching of truth and mercy the best paths” for helping families “so that the Creator’s original plan for man and woman can be realized and can function in all its beauty and strength in the world.”

Pope Francis, synod members and tens of thousands of people had gathered in St. Peter’s Square Oct. 3 for a nighttime prayer vigil for the synod. Before the pope spoke, Italian families and an engaged couple shared their stories of finding love, overcoming obstacles and experiencing reconciliation and healing.

The formal prayer began with an invocation of the Holy Spirit on the pope and synod members.

In his homily, Pope Francis asked people to pray that the synod would show the world “how the experience of marriage and family is rich and humanly fulfilling.”

The pope prayed that the synod would “acknowledge, esteem and proclaim all that is beautiful, good and holy” about family life.

But he also prayed that synod members would “embrace situations of vulnerability and hardship,” not forgetting those suffering because of “war, illness, grief, wounded relationships and brokenness.”

Pope Francis prayed that the synod would find a way to remind broken families “and every family, that the Gospel is always ‘good news,’ which enables us to start over.”

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Pope: Celebrations, including Mass, are essential for family life




Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Families need moments of rest and celebration, time for standing back and recognizing the gifts of God and how well they have developed, Pope Francis said.

Celebrations are times “to enjoy that which cannot be produced or consumed, that cannot be bought or sold,” the pope said Aug. 12 at his weekly general audience. Read more »

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Diocesan reports on family life surveys indicate lack of understanding of church teachings

March 7th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , ,


Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — A handful of U.S. bishops have released some results of public responses to a survey for the Vatican in preparation for the upcoming synod on the family.

Several U.S. bishops wrote short reports for the public giving a general sense of the responses. The material was to be submitted to the Vatican by the end of January.

Bishop Robert N. Lynch of St. Petersburg, Fla., said there are pastoral results from the survey on family life “which we can attend to and I hope we will.” (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

Among the comments in common with many of the brief reports was that Catholics admit to a poor understanding of the church’s teachings on the family.

Father Dennis Gill, director of the Philadelphia Archdiocese’s Office for Divine Worship and coordinator of the project, told CatholicPhilly.com, the archdiocesan news website, that the church has its educational work cut out for it. He said the nearly 900 responses to the survey showed poor knowledge of Catholic teaching.

“One thing we did learn was that we have to be much more proactive,” he said. “We cannot just depend on church teaching filtering through the cracks. We need to have an evangelical (aggressiveness) to putting on the table just what we believe on all these issues.”

What is needed, Father Gill said, is not simply a renewed effort to present church teaching in the same ways. “Somehow the Gospel has to be presented in a way that is compelling, engaging, insisting on a response,” he said.

In one of the more thorough reports, Bishop Robert N. Lynch of St. Petersburg, Fla., posted a detailed blog with highlights and put on his diocesan Web page an 18-page summary of the results of more than 6,800 responses from the public.

Among Bishop Lynch’s observations in his blog were that it “is impossible to share in a medium such as this is all of the free-form comments which I would characterize as serious, lacking in polemics, sincere, and reflecting little of the polarity which exists in the church today. I am very proud of what was said, how it was said and who said it.”

Even before the October extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, Bishop Lynch said, “there are pastoral results from the survey which we can attend to and I hope we will.”

For instance, he said, “I have made it known that I will not tolerate any discrimination or anything which smacks of the punitive to children of same-sex couples. I think all representatives of the church’s many ministries can be kinder, gentler, more welcoming and less judgmental of those who find our praxis and preaching on marriage and family life to be at odds with their experiences.”

Bishop Lynch said that it’s clear the church needs to help people understand “that divorce itself is not something which bans a person from reception of the sacraments and that annulments do not ‘illegitimize’ children born of previous marriages.” Addressing such issues can help the process of healing for many within the church, he said.

All bishops around the world were asked to complete the 39-item questionnaire and encouraged to seek input from the people of their dioceses about the responses. In some dioceses, that resulted in the survey itself or a reworked version of the key questions being posted online for public response.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, for example, put the whole questionnaire up for public participation, using the online SurveyMonkey site.

While many dioceses in the U.S. encouraged the public to weigh in on the questionnaire, fewer have released more than limited explanations of the results. Bishop Lynch’s posts and a similar-sized report by Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik were among the most detailed. Some individual bishops and some entire bishops conferences said they would not be releasing details at the request of the Vatican.

In both the Pittsburgh and St. Petersburg dioceses, the largest number of responses came from people who are over age 50, married and who attend Mass weekly or more often.

In his introduction to the report published online and in the Pittsburgh Catholic newspaper, Bishop Zubik said the bottom line he took away from about 3,000 responses was “we must throw open the doors, windows, websites and all means of modern communication to connect with all families and truly listen to their hopes and hurts. It is important that we, with greater intensity and intentionality, support families in these challenging times. God created the family. He loves every member of every family. We must do no less as the church.”

The Pittsburgh report observed that the church’s teaching on the family is “known by few and therefore not put into practice by the vast majority of Catholics.”

It said some of the difficulties are cultural, for instance that children and parents are involved in separate activities that limit common experiences of prayer, meals, recreation and dialogue.

“Catholic parents and children are often isolated from one another not only in the family home but in the community as well because Catholic families do not often interact with other Catholic families,” the Pittsburgh report said. “Catholics who live and practice the faith have become a minority in the United States even within the wider Catholic community. There is a greater need to foster family peer ministry: family-to-family faith sharing, service activities and prayer.”

Bishop Paul G. Bootkoski of Metuchen, N.J., also had a big response to the online survey, with nearly 6,000 participants, he said in a letter of thanks to people for answers that “went the extra mile.”

“Your responses were thoughtful, honest, forthright, detailed and personal,” Bishop Bootkoski said. “I assure you that your voices were heard.”

He said he was moved and inspired by “the personal accounts of suffering and pain, as well as joy and fulfillment, that many of you shared,” including “some of your most intimate life experiences and critical encounters with the church and her people.”

Bishop Bootkoski said that in addition to helping the universal church at the synod, he believes the insights generated by the survey will have a long and lasting local impact.


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Responses to Vatican survey on family show suffering by those who feel excluded, official says


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The responses to the Vatican questionnaire about Catholics’ family life reflect a great amount of suffering around the world, said the general secretary of the synod.

As of Feb. 19, about 80 percent of the world’s bishops’ conferences and 60 percent of the Vatican congregations and councils had turned in formal responses to a questionnaire distributed by the synod office in October.

Cardinals-designate Vincent Nichols of Westminster, center, and Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, talk before Pope Francis leads a meeting of cardinals in the synod hall at the Vatican Feb. 20. The pope asked the world’s cardinals and those about to be made cardinals to meet at the Vatican Feb. 20-21 to discuss the church’s pastoral approach to the family. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Cardinal-designate Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the synod, told the Vatican newspaper Feb. 21 that the responses show “much suffering, especially by those who feel excluded or abandoned by the church because they find themselves in a state of life that does not correspond to the church’s doctrine and discipline.”

The volume of responses, which also include about 700 submissions from Catholic groups and individuals, demonstrates great interest in the synod’s plans to discuss the family when it meets at the Vatican Oct. 5-19, said the general secretary.

By urging bishops around the world to conduct the broadest consultation possible given the brief amount of time allotted, synod officials “sparked a spontaneous reaction that may seem surprising, but is actually proof of how necessary it is to go out of our offices” to where people really live, he said.

The results compiled by the bishops’ conferences, he said, show “the urgency of recognizing the lived reality of the people and of beginning a pastoral dialogue with those who have distanced themselves from the church for various reasons.”

Simply by distributing the questionnaire so widely and inviting everyone to respond, he said, “a process has been opened for restoring the trust many have lost.”

Pope Francis, he said, “shows, day after day, a new human and Christian approach that stimulates people and prepares them to listen and to accept what is good for them, even if there is suffering.”


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Pope Francis, Bishop Malooly invite Catholics to answer questions on family life issues


Dear Friends in Christ,

Understanding the many challenges faced by families throughout the world, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, is asking Catholics what they think about the “social and spiritual crisis” impacting family life. I am inviting Catholics, whether active or inactive, in the Diocese of Wilmington to join me in this important conversation by participating in the questionnaire linked below.

The responses will be reflected by a report that each diocese must submit to the Vatican, which may help shape the discussion of next year’s Third Assembly of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops, which was convened to focus on “Pastoral Challenges to the Family.”

The first page asks for a little information about you so we can determine how wide the consultation has been. Each set of questions has a separate page. You will need to click through these pages to answer all the questions. You can click back and forth through these pages but once you have submitted your responses you cannot reopen this form.

We’ve added links to the Vatican’s website to those documents referenced in the questionnaire that may be unfamiliar to Catholics. It is not necessary to answer each and every question in the survey in order to submit one’s response, thus allowing one to focus more deeply on particular areas of interest. There is an opportunity at the end of the form to provide your name and contact details, if you so wish.

I appreciate your willingness to take the time to respond to the Holy Father’s inquiry on these important social and pastoral issues.

Sincerely in Our Lord,

Most Rev. W. Francis Malooly

Bishop of Wilmington

Take the survey on the Diocese of Wilmington’s website:


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