What priests can – with credibility – do in marriage preparation

The other day, Kevin Card. Farrell, formerly of Dallas and now of Rome, made a disparaging remark about pretty much every priest in the world when it comes to marriage prep. He said: “[Priests] have no credibility; they have never lived the experience; they may know moral theology, dogmatic theology in theory, but to go from there to putting it into practice every day . . . they don’t have the experience.”  If that is the case, one might wonder with a measure of irony if he, a priest, is credible as the head of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life.

My good friend Fr. Gerald Murray comments on the Cardinal’s remarks at The Catholic Thing.

The Priest’s Role in Marriage Preparation

Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life, made some provocative remarks about priests and marriage preparation in an interview that appeared recently in the Irish Catholic magazine Intercom. He said: “They have no credibility; they have never lived the experience; they may know moral theology, dogmatic theology in theory, but to go from there to putting it into practice every day . . . they don’t have the experience.”

He also spoke about the priests of the Diocese of Dallas where he served as bishop for nine years: “We have a million and a half Catholics and 75 priests, with a 45 to 50 percent rate of (Mass) attendance. Those 75 priests are not going to be interested in organizing marriage meetings.”

Do priests really lack credibility and interest in preparing couples for the sacrament of marriage? That has not been my experience. Most priests, and more specifically, most parish priests take a lively interest in marriage preparation.

Couples almost always appreciate their efforts as they prepare for marriage. Fr. Roger Landry has described the reality on the ground in most parishes in a recent column. Most priests are credible witnesses to the Church’s teaching on marriage, and they speak with insight – and often wisdom – from their extensive experience dealing with engaged couples, families, and children[Oddly enough, priests come from families.  Hmmm….]

What’s most troubling here are the premises underlying Cardinal Farrell’s remarks. He implies that the primary purpose of marriage instruction is to communicate experiential advice on how husbands and wives can live so as to produce marital happiness and familial harmony. To attain this goal, what couples need is to hear is practical advice from married people who, from their own experiences, will share “best practices” with engaged couples. He also claims that overworked priests would rather not take time from their busy schedules to meet with and instruct couples seeking to be married in the Church.

Marriage preparation programs should include advice on marital life from couples who are serious Catholics and have years of valuable experience in living out the demands of Christian marriage. And many priests are overworked. Yet should we promote the notion that priests should avoid working with engaged couples and are not really suited to this task?
Is it really better for them, instead, to dedicate time to other, relatively less important tasks such as building management and office work, which are in fact unavoidable and time-consuming tasks for most parish priests? Isn’t sacramental preparation a vital part of the spiritual paternity of the men ordained to celebrate the sacraments? [I think, perhaps…. yes?]

I had plenty of instruction in the seminary about Christian marriage, and none about building maintenance and parish office management. The seminary’s priorities were correct.

The number of Catholics seeking to be married in the Church has declined significantly. One reason is the ignorance of many Catholics about the sacramental nature of marriage and their obligations as Catholics. [Perhaps more important on the list of things that priests should pass along than “best practices”.] When a couple comes to the rectory seeking to be married in the Church we should view this as an opportunity to give doctrinal and spiritual formation to these obviously good willed, believing people. Who knows? They may tell their friends what a good experience it was to learn from a priest about the state in which they plan to spend the rest of their lives.

Poorly catechized Catholics need to understand Church teaching about the nature and purpose of marriage. Priests spend years in the seminary acquiring a deep understanding of that teaching, and how to explain its truth and value to the people of our times. They are meant to share that doctrinal formation with the laity.

[…]

I’ll cut it off there, only because I want you to go over there and read the rest.  It is very good.

Also, Fr. Raymond de Souza has a piece at the UK’s best Catholic weekly about the same topic.  He wrote:

Many priests devote enormous time and heroic energy to marriage preparation, often in the face of significant difficulties. They might not be the “best people” to do it, but certainly they would be deflated to hear Cardinal Farrell pronounce that, having “no credibility”, they are consequently wasting their time.

About 18 months ago Pope Francis – who himself offers all sorts of homely, affectionate and practical advice to married couples – took a rather different view when addressing parish priests, telling them that “no one better than you knows” the situations that couples face.

“May your primary concern be to bear witness to the grace of the Sacrament of Matrimony,” Pope Francis said. “Such witness is put into practice concretely when you prepare engaged couples for marriage, making them aware of the profound meaning of the step which they are about to take.”

So if it were a matter of authority alone, Cardinal Farrell’s comments could be ignored in light of the Holy Father taking a contrary view. Yet if Cardinal Farrell is right, it doesn’t matter that Pope Francis disagrees with him. But is he right? Is it true that priests have “no credibility” in preparing couples for marriage, because they have not been married themselves?

[…]

Yet there are questions that a priest is uniquely, but not exclusively, positioned to ask: do you pray together? If not, why not? Do you understand that your primary mission as a husband or wife is to get your spouse to heaven? Do you know that you will fail at that if you do not call upon the sacramental grace you will receive? Do you know what sacramental grace is? Do you know that it can enable to you to be far more than you imagine?

Those are matters upon which priests ought to have some credibility. If they don’t, we have much graver problems than marriage preparation.

Indeed.  Perhaps we do have graver problems.

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38 Responses to What priests can – with credibility – do in marriage preparation

  1. richiedel says:

    One would wonder based on his remarks how Cdl. Farrell as a priest has the credibility to determine that priests have no credibility to train couples for marriage. By my credibility as a lay person who has very much “lived the experience”, and who was and continues to be guided by priests in this area (especially in the confessional), I must say that Cdl. Farrell, if he really means this, is at best shooting from the hip, making an incredibly universal observation based on incredibly limited evidence, and, overall, doesn’t really know what he is talking about.

    However, what I really think is going on here has to do with presenting something as a problem which really isn’t a problem, so as to present as a “solution” to this non-problem the change of dogma and the Church’s teachings in the area of “family life” (read: sexuality) according to the “lived experience” of the laity.

  2. ChrisP says:

    Another patsy set up statement from the Axis-of-PC* in the church of nice. This is clearly meant to soften the laity up for the next assault on the family (ie. we poor priests don’t know much abut families so you laity are the experts, you can decide if you want communion delivered by a roller skating protestant or not) to be issued around Oct or so.

    What Card. Farrell really means is not experience, but interest. Families that work, know what way is up and can smell a fraud from 200 paces are a direct threat to the whimsical Axis-of-PC StoßtruppenFathers.

    *Axis-of-PC = dissident clergy, malicious Church media and corrupt Curia.

  3. HvonBlumenthal says:

    Priests probably hear more through the confession box on the most difficult aspects of marriage than any other class of people apart from lawyers and social workers.

    Would anyone say an unmarried social worker was unqualified to advise on marriage?

  4. Clinton says:

    If I follow His Eminence’s line of reasoning, then shouldn’t I seek advice on
    marriage from someone with plenty of “lived experience”, like a Henry VIII or
    an Elizabeth Taylor? After all, with seven or so marriages apiece, either one of
    them surely has more sound advice to offer than some holy priest…

    (/sarc.)

  5. rhhenry says:

    Well, if lived experience is what *really* matters, then I guess I need to stop looking at those fancy diplomas and training certificates on walls and get to work ensuring that my oncologist is a cancer survivor, my dentist has had a root canal, my retirement advisor is retired, and my mortician is dead.

  6. Amerikaner says:

    I believe the comment is intended to prime the mind for the idea for married priests.

  7. My granddaughter is in Marriage Prep. An older married deacon is conducting the class and one on one meetings with the couples. He also teaches the RCIA classes and according to the couple he is awesome. My granddaughter was raised very traditional and she can spot a faux pas a mile away. None so far.

    I remember back when I got married years ago, we had to go to meetings with the priest and then go to a full day of classes etc. The older couple that was talking to us about marriage happened to be friends of my parents. There is only one thing I remember the husband saying when he was speaking on the struggles of marriage, and they’d been married a long time. He said, “Things can get bad sometimes; we were so poor at one point even the roaches left our house.” That was so funny and I couldn’t stop laughing. And his deep Cajun accent didn’t help lol.

  8. Ave Maria says:

    This Cardinal, former roommate of C. McCarrick, should just speak for himself.

  9. teomatteo says:

    I have wondered if a priest learns at marriage prep that the couple believe two men or two women can be” married” and that they would or have attended such a farce, would the priest be able to witness their nuptuals?

  10. Kathleen10 says:

    So many good comments.
    Cardinal Farrell has thrown away his own credibility. But of course his comment can advance the cause, Amerikaner well said it, married priests. I think the goal is gay married priests, but we aren’t there yet.
    This should be so obvious, but since it’s questioned by a Cardinal (!) can I just say the laity does not know what a priest knows about faith applied to life. The nature of a sacramental marriage is an alien concept in most cases, I’m sure. It was to us. Look around, how many sacramental marriages do any of us see? As a young bride, I had no concept of this at all, it was only after many years and plenty of missteps and heartache my husband and I realized the real nature of the marriage bond. We absolutely did not know it. What a difference it might have made in our early years.
    A priest understands also, the sacrifice that must be made for a higher goal. He lives sacrifice, he gets it. He can teach and encourage a couple to persist despite challenges and setbacks, which are going to come again and again. He can encourage them to consider the things eternal, and not just what is going on in their lives today. He can point out that rank materialism is not the answer in the pursuit of wedded bliss. The laity listen to priests, priests are still held in high esteem, a faithful one, very much so. They have great credibility, if they will demonstrate faithfulness to the teachings of the Church and the confidence to declare the truth. This is what people really want.
    So for Cardinal Farrell to say that priests have nothing to offer, can just be added to the list of bizarre statements from today’s clerics helping to turn the Church into something none of us recognize.

  11. rdb says:

    This would be my question for Cardinal Farrell, “Your emminence, if priests have no credibility when offering advice to couples preparing for marriage, does that include the advice offered in Amoris Latetitia?

  12. Joy65 says:

    Our Priest has gone above and beyond to help couples in our Parish prepare for the Sacrament of Matrimony. He meets with them NUMEROUS times before the wedding. He takes marriages in his Parish seriously.
    He also has help MANY couples in irregular Marriages do the necessary paperwork and whatever else is needed to get their marriages right with the Church.
    He truly is a blessing for those wishing to get married and those already married in our Parish. He also makes sure if there are any marriage anniversaries in our Parish that he knows of that they are recognized.
    I can guarantee that despite what was said by Kevin Card. Farrell, our Priest is very qualified to help couples prepare for marriage and help couples that are already married in our Parish. God Bless our Priest for all he does in this area.

  13. APX says:

    Joy,

    We had a priest who took marriage prep quite seriously as well. He had an extensive reading list for couples (that actually required reading since they were expected to discuss the material during their numerous meetings). He also organized and led a marriage prep refresher course done over two weekends for couples who didn’t quite get the marriage prep they needed, or those who just need a refresher.

    Based on feedback of the Diocesan-required lay led “marriage prep” course, I’m not convinced, generally speaking, lay people are qualified to do marriage prep. I kid you not, subjects covered were how to address issues such as crumbs left in the butter by your spouse and the spouse who squeezes the toothpaste from the center of the tube.

  14. Antonin says:

    Men and women do think differently and there are different expectations in a marriage between the two partners. The Cardinal’s statement certainly has a grain of truth for sure. Priests should have female friends and colleagues in order to better be able to navigate different kinds of relationships. In seminary and dean meeetings, etc, it is all men and that gives a skewed perspective on how diverse workplaces function. I am not saying we need women priests but do need women as part of committees and lay people involved in seminary formation just to provide priests with experience

  15. MrsMacD says:

    Amongst my family there are six of us who are married, one to be married soon. We all agree that the best marriage prep any of us received was directly from a good priest that took the time to give us custom preparation.

  16. bobbird says:

    Let us add about sexual self-control needed among — mostly — the men AFTER marriage, if the couple is being instructed in Humanae Vitae and NFP. Who understands this better than a good and celibate priest?

  17. Julia_Augusta says:

    Married priests, that’s where the Cardinal is going, which, we the faithful, will oppose. How are we going to oppose him and people like him? Every time they make a scandalous statement against the traditional teachings of the Church, I open my pocketbook and donate money to traditional Catholic seminaries, priests and religious orders, and to promoting the TLM (E.g. to provide vestments, etc.). Then, I pray a lot for our clergy. If we all do this, the scandalizers will soon discover that attacking the faith is like having a bazooka aimed at themselves.

  18. frjim4321 says:

    The prelate does not seem to understand how counseling works, including pastoral counseling. It’s hard to imagine how such an ignorant person can ascend to such a high office, but then it seems to happen all the time. Harry S Truman was correct; the world is run by C-students.

    Counseling is not about “giving advice,” it is about leading people to insight, and facilitating their development of a synthesis of their insights. This is done by utilizing a skill that that is in part natural and in part acquired by training. Thus a person who “counsels” schizophrenics does not need to share that same diagnosis.

    It may be that priests lack credibility as counselors because they lack the natural or acquired necessary skill set, not because they don’t share all of the experiences of those they are counseling.

  19. richiedel says:

    Amerikaner,

    I, too, considered for a moment, whether this may be about setting the stage for married priests. But upon further consideration, I didn’t think it would be worth the attempt to establish as sweeping a premise as Cdl. Farrell does, and then consider that the Church would undergo as monumental a change with the discipline of priestly celibacy, only at the end of the day to be able to tell ourselves, “Well, thank goodness, priests can do marriage prep now.”

    However, along with making as sweeping a generalization as priests having no credibility for marriage prep or any “lived experience”, Cdl. Farrell juxtaposes this said ineptitude with a seeming concession that priests know moral theology, but if we accept the premise that priests have no credibility the the area of marriage guidance, such knowledge is obviously good for nothing as the priest would be incapable of meaningfully helping to apply this moral theology to the couple’s lives. So, I think that what sowing the seeds of doubt about even the least bit of credibility on the part of priests to helping married couples live out moral theology really accomplishes is suggesting there is really no practical way to expect this moral theology in the hands of priests to be lived out by married couples. Thus, the only solution to such would be to leave such a task to those who have “lived the experience”, and even go so far as to conform moral theology to such “lived experience”, seeing as how up to this point, the moral theology has only remained in the hands of those without such.

  20. tho says:

    After hearing confessions for a number of years, and listening to the problems of their parishioners for the same amount of time, no one is better qualified to dispense advice than a good priest. Troubled lay people, and those in the married state, are the priests stock in trade. However, there seems to be a problem in appointing bishops to positions of responsibility, who have an abundance of common sense.

  21. Joy65 says:

    bobbird says:
    15 July 2018 at 11:54 AM

    “Let us add about sexual self-control needed among — mostly — the men AFTER marriage, if the couple is being instructed in Humanae Vitae and NFP. Who understands this better than a good and celibate priest?”

    Father told us once from the pulpit something like this——He was giving counsel to a couple who were preparing for marriage and they were discussing NFP and it was mentioned that there would be times that the couple would need to abstain from marital relations. The man said, abstain from relations that’s gonna be very difficult. Father said you’re only being asked to abstain for short periods of time TRY BEING CELIBATE your whole life, it’s no picnic. :)

  22. Sue in soCal says:

    Marriage is a sacrament and a vocation and should be treated as such: Seriously. Preparation for this calling is woefully inadequate throughout the Church.

  23. Gerard Plourde says:

    Is it possible that the experience that Cardinal Farrell is referring to is the area of financial instability which is the primary cause of discord and failure in marriages? I say this not to criticize the clergy – they can speak authoritatively about the stresses that come in living a communal life, often more authoritatively than most, given the reality of transferring periodically and having to adjust to new confrères (not precisely correct for diocesan priests, but correct in the sense of communal living). They do, however, lack the experience of job (and therefore) financial insecurity that is a hallmark of the American experience. Many couples struggle with the crisis of feeding, clothing, housing, providing healthcare, and educating themselves and their children when a job disappears. Although they may have come from families that experienced this reality, their responsibility as children of the marriage was most probably less. It is this lived experience that they may lack.

  24. Imrahil says:

    The thing is… quite apart from the actual experience I do not doubt a pastor is bound to get when, well, “pastorizing” families,

    they may know moral theology, dogmatic theology in theory

    This may well be precisely what is needed.

    but to go from there to putting it into practice every day

    brings, let us face it, something of a probability of, I shall not say “compromise with sin” (though that as well), but a great deal of work-arounds, struggling-throughs, and ever-again something that has to be settled, roughly, by laying it down in the Confessional, with, we shall hope, purpose of amendment, but only slow success at amendment, and that not always.

    Is that the practical advice people need? Maybe even yes. But exclusively such advice? I doubt it.

    And, let’s face another thing: If in some rare instance, that were not the case – who in the world wants to hear the advice of one who says “it’s simple enough, look at me, after all I did it as well”? Maybe someone rather holy with a rather advanced degree of humility. But to be honest, I’d look for such people rather in the monasteries.

    The idea of having someone who is able to say: “Look here, I myself have wisely kept out of this; so I can tell you things as they are; I have no horse in the race” may well be an option of rather great pastoral worth.

  25. hwriggles4 says:

    During my discernment process, I picked up an application for one Archdiocese. The application was lengthy (about 20 pages) and one question was “how do you relate to women?” Unless a priest will be a cloistered monk, this is something that he will have to deal with.

    First, priests come from families. They may have had sisters, cousins, friends with sisters, aunts, a mom, and if over 18, there’s a good chance a seminarian did have a date for the senior prom and possibly a girlfriend. Women do have different gifts, and think in different ways.

    Second, relationships with women are healthy. Men today in 90% of workplaces men treat a female co worker like a sister. Married men treat wives of their friends like sisters too. Personally, I was a shy kid when it came to women, and although I did manage to have a prom date, it wasn’t until I was about 21 that I began to develop some healthy relationships with girls I met in college. Years later, I returned to college as an engineering major, and the best place for me to meet girls on campus was the Catholic Student Center (engineering 25 years ago was 90% male).

    Anyhow, most good priests need to know how to get along with women, and quite a few priests have some dating experience. Today, relationships with women is part of the screening process for seminarians.

  26. MrsMacD says:

    We’re only too happy to expound to Father, “What it’s like.” Heck if anybody wrote a book based on anything and had as many real life stories of, ‘what it’s like,’ as a priest does, he’d be considered an expert.

    That said if my daughter (or son) was getting married I can think of a few priests that I wouldn’t want her(or him) to get instruction from but that is primarily because they are not faithful to the perennial teachings of Holy Mother Church.

  27. richiedel says:

    Gerard Plourde,

    It may have been possible that Cdl. Farrell was referring to the area of financial management had he not specified the areas of moral and dogmatic theology as those in which priests lack credibility due to not having “lived the experience” or “putting it into practice everyday”:

    “Priests have no credibility; they have never lived the experience; they may know moral theology, dogmatic theology in theory, but to go from there to putting it into practice every day . . . they don’t have the experience.”

  28. excalibur says:

    If priests aren’t capable of advising couples in Pre-Cana, then how is it that Amoris Laetitia say these same priests are capable of counseling divorced and remarried couples?

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  30. chesterton63 says:

    Now I finally understand how could Jesus get it so wrong about marriage to say that it should have been indissoluble. He didn’t have first-hand experience.

  31. TonyO says:

    Amerikaner says:

    I believe the comment is intended to prime the mind for the idea for married priests.

    Spot on. The cardinal is speaking from a wealth of ignorance, which he is kindly trying to spread around.

    The trick is to note the cardinal’s experience as priest and bishop: in the Dallas diocese, there are 1.5 million Catholics, but only 75 priests. This is an absolutely wretched ratio. And it only happens where the bishops (one after another) have given in to the mindless PC and modernist heresy in handling vocations to the priesthood. They have undoubtedly gone the route explained in detail in “Goodbye, Good Men“, in getting rid of men who were solidly Catholic and orthodox by calling them “rigid” (ring any bells, Francis?), by putting pressure on men to become squishy modernists, by pushing them through seminaries owned by the pink mafia.

    If Dallas had a merely 1 to 1,000 ratio of priests to Catholics, they would have 1,500 priests. Heck, even if you reduce the ratio to 1 in 2,000 (does anyone think that God calls only 1 in 2,000?), they would have 750 priests. But what they have is one tenth of that, which only 1 in 20,000. This surely means that (a) the parishes are turning men off from the priesthood even before they are old enough to discern a vocation, and then they are turning away good men from the seminaries when they do apply.

    Another mistake here (possibly an intentional one, but I will give the benefit of the doubt and call it an honest mistake) is the claim that “only” 45% to 50% of the Catholics in the Dallas diocese attend mass. Maybe on Christmas and Easter, but not every week. In the best dioceses in the country, mass attendance (every week) is well below 45%, more probably around 25% to 30%. You can tell by the number of priests: faithful Catholics (who – as a minimum – go to mass weekly, go to confession at least once a year, and either follow Humanae Vitae fully or confess their sexual sins before receiving Communion) are probably nowhere higher than about 6% of Catholics. I think it was Fr. Hardon who said that God calls at least one in 100 men, but that it is really closer to 1 in 10 (that includes religious life, not just priests). If it were only 1 in 100 men of the 6% of Catholics who are faithful Catholics, Dallas would have 900 men God is calling to the priesthood. It is up to the bishop to take them and make use of them. Why, as bishop, did Farrell not fix his problem?

    If we can be charitable, Cardinal Farrell has no clue why his diocese does not ordain more men. This only means, of course, that he himself has bought the modernist, liberal nonsense hook, line and sinker. He is part of the problem, not the solution.

    Married priests will NOT solve the priest shortage. It wasn’t caused by lack of marriage, it was caused by bad theology in the seminaries and (secondarily as a result of the bad theology) bad instruction for children and married couples. Anglicans have married priests, and they are not in better shape, but worse.

    One last point: Cardinal Farrell exposes an intense failure in Dallas, probably in his own practice as a priest (unless he was a headquarters wonk priest who never did any real pastoral work): in ALL of the good priests I know, they would rather invest 10 or 20 hours on the front end of a marriage, than waste 20 to 50 hours in counseling the couple as their marriage falls apart, and untold hours dealing with the mess of children who turn out badly from destroyed marriages. Every intelligent priest knows that you get a lot better return on investment from helping couples avoid known and obvious pitfalls standing ready to swallow them – not to mention the fact that whole and wholesome (and orthodox) families turn out FAR more vocations than broken families do. If Farrell’s attitude is endemic in the diocese (and bishops generally try to mold priests to be like them), then no pope should elevate ANY of the Dallas priests to the bishopric, they will only continue to make the problem worse.

  32. Unwilling says:

    The Soul of the Apostolate by Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard, O.C.S.O.

    TAN Books has a nice blurb.
    https://www.tanbooks.com/index.php/soul-of-the-apostolate-3148.html

  33. sekcatholic says:

    To say that a priest has no credibility on marriage preparation because he has no lived experience is akin to saying that a priest has no credibility to console the dying because he hasn’t ever died.

    There is a disturbing tendency among secular and ecclesiastical leaders to ignore the plain fact that a person can learn truths and transmit those truths to other people. Of course, there is a disturbing tendency to dismiss truth in favor of “accompaniment”…

  34. LarryW2LJ says:

    Agree totally with HvonBlumenthal.

    I would think that priests hear enough in the confessional that they have witnessed a lot regarding the failings of married couples. Without revealing details, I think they know enough about the pitfalls of married life and can advise prospective couples quite adequately.

    After all, Wherner Von Braun was an expert rocket scientist, but yet he never flew on one. Respectfully, the Cardinal’s claims smack of lame excuses more than anything else.

  35. Il Ratzingeriano says:

    A holy priest who embraces celibacy and the Church’s teachings concerning sexuality can dispassionately present marriage in all its beauty and as such is uniquely qualified to counsel concerning marriage. A dissenting priest who has “issues” with the Church’s teaching, that’s a different story. Who could better serve as a marriage counsellor than St. John Paul II? On the other hand, Cardinal McCarrick as a marriage counsellor? No thank you.

  36. KateD says:

    Omigosh! Chesterton63! Right?!?

    Respectfully, Kevin Cardinal Ferrall, is mistaken.

    I tell my children they will be called to either religious or married life. What is most important is to be attentive to the will of God. This will be the primary Person in either vocation.

    A marriage has as the first Person in it, Jesus Christ. Priests are more familiar with Him than anyone else, as they are the only people able to bring Jesus and all of Heaven to Earth at will. They function in both the Heavenly and the Earthly realms simultaneously. I can’t do that. My husband can’t do that. Even were he a deacon, he couldn’t do that. We don’t have that intimacy with God. ONLY a priest does.

    That’s what makes priests the absolutely BEST people to counsel couples discerning a vocation to the married life. Priests know Him best, even becoming Persona Christi.

    If what the Cardinal is referring to relates to the conjugal relationship, I assure him, it takes no more instruction than putting on one’s pants in the morning. Husbands and wives have been figuring that out for quite some time now. If there are problems, the best people to talk to would be a doctor for the medical side and a priest for the ethics, morality and/or psychological issues.

    If this statement was even put out by the cardinal (who knows these days?), it has less to do with faith, and the health of marriages than politics; The politics of abortion, of contraception and of married and female priests, as others have noted.

  37. KateD says:

    I inform my children that priests are princes of the Kingdom of Heaven right here on Earth.

    And…Jesus said in Heaven there is no marriage or divorce, so isn’t it appropriate that these men called to the priesthood, chosen by Christ Himself should remain chaste, precisely because of the nature of their vocation to be moving between the two realms as an emissary or ambassador of Heaven to Earth?

    It is fitting that they should conduct themselves in the ways of their native Country.

  38. teachermom24 says:

    The best marriage prep I have found is from a celibate priest, Karol Wojtyla, in his book Love and Responsibility.