During the Ad Limina visits with the US bishops, the Holy Father broached the marriage preparation programs in the American dioceses. He said the bishops must recognize the "deficiencies" in the presentation of the Church's teachings during the past several decades and called for concentration on "“the serious pastoral problem presented by the widespread practice of cohabitation, often by couples who seem unaware that it is gravely sinful, not to mention damaging to the stability of society." Read the whole article in Lifesite News.
Those of you who teach/administer the marriage prep courses, how many of you have taken notice that during course registrations, many of the engaged couples indicate that they are living at the same address? I know in some parishes in this diocese, these "same-address" situations, in other words, co-habitating situations, are as high as 80% of the class attendees. I also know that you don't utter a peep. By not doing so, you are doing them no favors, as you, by their silence, confirm them in objective mortal sin. I said "objective" because by virtue of the terrible catechesis they've received (and continue to receive from you), their culpability may be lessened (but not entirely eliminated, for there must be that unease in their consciences that lets them know that something is amiss). You do them no favors by your silence! Because of their ongoing mortal sin, they will receive no sacramental grace from the Sacrament of Matrimony for which they are preparing. That may well be a key factor why the greater percentage of these cohabiting couples will find themselves in divorce court.
I am happily aware of one parish in which engaged couples are required, if cohabiting, to separate until they are married if they want to complete that parish's marriage prep course. This should be the rule, not the exception. I hope and pray that with the Holy Father's clear exhortation, such will become more prevalent.
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