Cohabitation: I might love you, if you satisfy me over the next few months then we'll get married. It's mistrust. Carry that attitude into marriage, and when hard times come, breakdown will result. But of course, for many this is either just the done way of life today, or they feel it suits them better than marriage (perhaps due to instability resulting from unemployment). (#82) True love lasts. An immature attitude to love scares us away from committing to the adventure (#84)
"Young people must overcome an overly romantic idea that love is only an intense feeling towards each other and teach them that it is, instead, a personal response to another person as part of a joint project of life, which reveals a great mystery and great promise." (#85)
The issue of cohabitation ironically reduces the issue of divorcees. As people live as married people, without being married.So when they grow apart, grow up and want to enter into a serious relationship - all they need to do is go to confession (if catholic) and get married and they are all set. Seems a bit unfair. (#86) More unfair apparently, is the manner in which priests and religious can be dispensed from their celibate states and enter into Church marriages considering the inflexibility on dissolving marriages(though there are times when a marriage could be dissolved - e.g. an unbaptised convert wants to marry a Catholic because his/her spouse is hostile to the Faith)
Many people might not be living in accord with Church teaching, without knowing this. Obviously, less guilt is attached to them. But the process of correction can be challenging. Sometimes it is as simply as seeking convalidation of a marriage, but other times it requires real sacrifice. Canon Law talks about the issue of polygamists converting to Christianity but it is obviously hard. (#90). Marriage is linked to Communion in many deep ways, but these are not well understood at times. (Divorce is not a cause to automatically deny Eucharist).
Considerations include re-evaluation of the Eastern Orthodox second marriages - however it seems these later marriages have a penitential tone (and someone - look it up properly if you want - said that divorce in the Orthodox tradition always has a time of excommunication from the Church attached - hardly the embracing pastoral approach people would welcome in the West!) (#95) I want to research this practice more myself out of interest.
Of course, in all this talk on marriage and remarriage, let's be thankful to those heroic people who opt to be faithful to the Church even to great personal pain. Those who embrace the single life as a separated person and serve God so wonderfully in that blessed vocation (readers of the blog will recall I hold single people in high esteem!)
Annulments are tricky. As for many people they would release them of some of the burden, but the document notes that many people would say their first marriage was valid and it would be dishonest to pursue a claim of nullity. However, many people might not be aware of factors that could impede a marriage beyond being closely related or murdering a former spouse (essentially, one or both parties did not intend to keep the vows. e.g. they agree a 'pre-nup' because they think they could divorce and don't want to be in difficulty - that shows a lack of commitment/understanding to marriage being life-long) (#99) Suggestions about the bishop being more involved, and the laity participating more in marriage tribunals are interesting - we see the bishop in authority and don't like the idea of a committee deciding our lives, but at the same time the value of the input and clarity of laity is to be accepted). What happens when people don't co-operate with the process? What about children of an annulled 'marriage'? (#102)
People who want to be married in the Church, even if not church-goers should be welcomed. We should open up the dialogue. Preparation shouldn't be all logistical, nor entirely catechises. It needs to proclaim the Gospel, but firstly bear witness to joy and love, but before that it must listen.
“There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family. [...] Nonetheless, according to the teaching of the Church, men and women with homosexual tendencies ‘must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided’” (CDF, Considerations regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons, 4) We ought not to define people by their sexual orientation at all, but see them as people, in the image of God. But our sexuality is part of who we are as human persons. God created us male and female. New ideas and scales of gender need urgent consideration by the Church.
A child should be able to receive baptism, even in a couple in an irregular relationship, according to most bishops' conferences - but there must be a means for the child to be brought up in the Faith. Perhaps, the role of the godparents needs to be emphasised more and the godparents carefully selected. (#120)