Marriage – a better pathway ahead!

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David Ahern

David is the editor of The Majellan

On the eve of the 10th World Meeting of Families, new pastoral guidelines for local parishes have been announced, creating a renewed pathway for Catholic couples to have a happy and fruitful marriage.

Titled Catechumenal itineraries for married life – Pastoral guidelines for particular Churches, Pope Francis said the document represented a “fruit” of the Amoris Laetitia Family Year marking his Apostolic Exhortation on the family.

“The Church, in every age, is called to proclaim anew the beauty and abundance of grace contained in the Sacrament of Marriage and the family life which flows from it, especially to young people,” said Pope Francis.

The document – prepared by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life – charts a path toward a true “catechumenate”, the institution by which catechumens are prepared for church inclusion through religious instruction.

Pope Francis has placed much of the emphasis on parishes. He said the Church must devote considerable time and energy to accompanying engaged couples toward marriage. “Marriage failures bring with them great suffering and leaves deep wounds in people,” Pope Francis said.

“They become disillusioned, bitter and, in the most painful cases, even end up no longer believing in the vocation to love, inscribed by God Himself in the heart of the human being.”

The pope’s words are supported by increased divorce rates in the western world. Australian Institute of Families Studies reports the total number of divorces granted in 2020 was 49,510 (latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures), which was slightly higher than 2019 when 48,482 divorces were granted.

The largest proportion of couples divorcing were married for nine years or less, according to the Institute. It also says the proportion of divorces among couples who had been married for 20 years or longer has been increasing in recent decades.

Divorce also has an adverse impact on a couple’s financial status and the mental health of children, including anger, depression, separation anxiety and disruption to eating and sleeping habits.

The Institute’s 2016 report titled Divorce – for Richer for poorer, found that a significant financial gap remains for divorcees compared to those who are married even five years later. The impact is also more significant for divorced mothers. Reasons for divorce include financial issues, poor communication, infidelity, loss of love, domestic violence and incompatibility.

Pope Francis added that married couples “are truly ‘guardians of life’, not only because they beget children, raise them, and accompany their growth, but also because they care for the elderly in their family, and devote themselves to the service of people with disabilities and frequently to people living in poverty with whom they come into contact.”

Local parishes need to set up a “true catechumenate for future spouses which includes all the steps of the sacramental path: time of preparation for marriage, its celebration, and the years immediately thereafter,” said Pope Francis.

“Catechumenal itineraries for married life”- Pastoral guidelines for particular Churches has been published in Italian but an English version will be available soon. More details are available at:

The new Vatican document sits nicely with the mission of Majellan Media which has been assisting families for more than 70 years and aims to help families be the best they can be.

Our extensive resources on family life includes a Wedding preparation book titled Your Wedding and a podcast series.

The Your Wedding booklet is a valuable resource that will help parishes with marriage preparation and includes meaningful advice for engaged couples who want to marry in the Catholic Church. Find out more at:

Majellan Media also has produced a number of podcasts to help family relationships. Especially relevant is our Preparing for Marriage series as part of Figuring out Families that aims to help couples build stronger relationships as they prepare for marriage. It can be found at:

Footnote: The World Meeting of Families will be held in Rome from June 22 to 26.

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