Massachusetts’ Catholic bishops are running a statewide campaign to promote the vocation of marriage.
Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston launched the campaign in his diocese this past weekend, reported The Boston Globe. The yearlong campaign includes postings on bulletin boards, prayers — including one million prayer cards — and homilies during Masses. In the fall, an educational campaign will also be launched that will include video presentations and speakers, including married couples.
The campaign was introduced less than two weeks after an effort failed in the state Legislature to put a measure banning same-sex marriage on the ballot. A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston told the Globe that the campaign has little to do with the vote and had been in the works for months. It will be launched in the dioceses of Worcester, Fall River, and Springfield soon.
On the Archdiocese of Boston website, Cardinal O'Malley noted that more American couples are opting to cohabitate rather than to marry.
"Certainly, the vocation to marriage, which is the way most people live out their discipleship, is something that is very, very important. And it certainly is being obscured in our modern and secular culture," the cardinal wrote. "We hope this campaign will help people to refocus on the sacramental meaning of marriage."
From 1986 to 2006, the number of Catholic marriages in the Archdiocese of Boston plummeted, from 12,274 to 4,519. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the number of marriages in Massachusetts dropped as well -- from 47,696 in 1990 to 39,074 in 2005.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is in the midst of a multi-year National Pastoral Initiative on Marriage to respond to the declines, the archdiocese said.
This church campaign is the most intensive since the 1999 parish-based effort against assisted suicide, called In Support of Life, said Edward Saunders, executive director of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference.