As part of the bishops’ efforts to promote Catholics’ “renewed commitment” to strengthening marriage, a pastoral letter on marriage will be a major topic of the U.S. bishops’ fall general assembly in Baltimore.
During its assembly, which lasts from November 16-19, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will vote on the approval of “Love and Life in the Divine Plan.” A USCCB press release says the letter is an important component of the bishops’ National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage.
“Our pastoral letter is an invitation to discover, or perhaps rediscover, the blessing given when God first established marriage as a natural institution and when Christ restored and elevated it as a sacramental sign of salvation,” the bishops explained.
Essential points of Catholic teaching on marriage are presented, including the foundations for understanding its nature and purposes and for living it faithfully. The letter also discusses how to preserve and defend it as a necessary and unique social institution.
The letter is reportedly written with a broad audience in mind, aiming to appeal to young unmarried adults, married couples, those running pastoral ministries and those who shape opinion and public policy about marriage.
The bishops urge a “renewed commitment” by the entire Catholic community to help those called to marriage so that they may live their vocation “faithfully, fruitfully, and joyfully.” The prelates pledge to be a “marriage-building Church” that draws strength from God’s grace while “creatively using the gifts and resources entrusted to us.”
The letter is offered both to the Catholic faithful and also to all men and women in hopes of inspiring them to embrace Catholic teaching.
“Today, more than ever, people are asking whether and how it is possible to make and keep a lifetime commitment in a marriage,” explained Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, chairman of the bishops’ Subcommittee on Marriage and Family and a key developer of the pastoral letter.
“The Catholic Church has a vision for marriage that can sustain spouses in good times and in bad times – one that can lead them to happiness and holiness in their relationship. This message is based on both reason and faith; it is God’s plan for the good of the spouses, their children and family, and society as a whole.”
The letter on marriage is part of the bishops' goal of strengthening of marriage, which is one of their five national priorities.
Dr. Richard McCord, Executive Director of the USCCB Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, said that the letter will launch several new projects for local pastoral ministries.
He reported that the USCCB also plans to continue developing its successful projects, such as its public service media campaign on the benefits of marriage and its website For Your Marriage which provides resources for engaged and married couples.
The For Your Marriage website is located at http://www.foryourmarriage.org.