Thursday, March 24, 2011

Catholic weddings drop 71 percent in R.I.

This article recently appeared in the Providence Journal from my home state, little Rhode Island:

Catholic weddings drop 71 percent in R.I.

The Providence Journal, typical of most news media, loves to publish anything that will cast the Catholic Church in a negative light. This article was no exception. In an example of sloppy one sided journalism, the 71% decline in Catholic weddings was stressed over and over, but no other statistics from any other church was given. No context was provided to let the reader see how the number of Catholic weddings compared to other denominations. This article made you believe that it was time to put the last nails in the coffin of the Catholic Church. This is hardly surprising from the Providence Journal, since it many of its past articles have had an obvious liberal slant and heavily biased against the Church.

The truth of the matter is that this 71% decline is more indicative of societal problems than issues within the Church. One of the few bright spots in this article were these quotes from two priests in the Diocese of Providence:

The Rev. Joseph D. Santos Jr., pastor of Holy Name Church in Providence, contends that the falloff in Catholic weddings has its roots in the 1970s. That, he says, is when Catholic educators started revamping religious education and “basically destroyed or watered down” traditional teachings to the extent that increasing numbers of Catholics no longer understand what marriage and sexuality are about.
The church has traditionally taught that matrimony has two purposes: To allow the couple to love each other in a way that mirrors Christ’s love for his church, and to become partners with God in bringing new life into the world.
Unfortunately, says Father Santos, the failure to show the connection between those aspects has caused many Catholics to mistakenly think that sex can be primarily about pleasure and gratification and to believe that premarital sex, and even living together without marriage, are OK.

The Rev. Ronald E. Brassard, pastor of Immaculate Conception parish in Cranston, says there is no doubt that cohabitation has been the biggest factor in the decline in the number of Catholic weddings.
“It’s not so much that Catholics are getting married someplace else,” he says. “They are not getting married, period.
“In 1965, if a couple was living together, it would have been scandalous. Today, it seems no one blinks an eye.”
I completely agree with these statements. It's not hard to see how many Catholics and society and general do not have a healthy understanding or respect for marriage, family, and sexuality. This is evidenced by the proliferation of pornography, contraception, and abortion in our culture. Young couples also don't value marriage like previous generations did, and many decide on cohabitation instead. So many young adults today came from broken homes and single parent homes. Unfortunately, because of these experiences, they don't fully appreciate marriage as a lifelong commitment. Add to that the fact that many young couples that do decide to marry, are opting to have their wedding outside such as on a beach rather than in a Church. This also has a lot to do with the messages they get from media and Hollywood. They are bombarded with images of romantic outdoor ceremonies which overshadows the truth that a marriage is a sacrament and lifelong vow before God that should occur in a sacred place.

The article also had comments from recently wed young couples who call themselves Catholic but chose to marry outside the Church. The common theme was that these couples did not agree with Church doctrine. They did not want the Church telling them what to do or believe. They wanted to decide for themselves. Isn't this what happened in the Garden of Eden? We want to be in control and ultimately lead self centered lives rather than lives centered on God. That is the whole issue behind this decline in marriage. The Catholic Church is not alone in this as virtually all denominations are experiencing this. Our society is turning away from God and becoming more secularized. So it should come as no surprise that as we turn away from God's will for marriage that we will try to redefine it to suit our own wills.

2 comments:

  1. This is excellent!! AND, that is a picture from my parish! Are you from these parts?

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  2. Thanks for the compliment! I am from Rhode Island. The picture is a pure coincidence. I was looking online for an appropriate picture to use in this posting I came across this one. I liked because it looks like a really beautiful church. I also loved how the Crucifix and the Tabernacle had such a prominent place in the photo above the couple.

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