Living together in this way involves varying degrees of physical and emotional interaction. It contradicts the meaning of a sexual relationship in marriage as the total gift of oneself in fidelity, exclusivity, and permanency.

Over the past twenty-five years cohabitation has become a major social phenomenon affecting the institution of marriage and family life.

The pastoral approaches outlined in this section emerge from an analysis of these policies, from knowledge of current pastoral practice, and from consultations with pastoral ministers. James Healy, Ph D, Director of the Center for Family Ministry in the Diocese of Joliet, for his assistance with this part of the paper.

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It is also an extremely perplexing issue for priests, deacons, and lay pastoral ministers who help couples prepare for marriage in the Church.

In 1988 the NCCB Committee on Pastoral Practices published discussed (pp.

, #81), Pope John Paul II strongly urges that young people be educated about chastity, fidelity, and the meaning of marriage as a sacrament.

Religious education, parish based catechetical programs, and chastity curricula in elementary schools are all part of this effort.

Moreover, in Part Two, the paper focuses even more narrowly on a segment of cohabiting couples, namely, those who choose to move out of this type of relationship and into the lifelong commitment of marriage.

It is this group of engaged couples who pose certain unique pastoral challenges.

In both sections of the paper the Committee has chosen a question-and-answer format in order to organize the material in a concise manner. Barbara Markey, ND, Ph D, Director of the Family Life Office in the Archdiocese of Omaha, for helping to compile and edit the first section.

In order to develop the second section, Committee staff collected marriage preparation policies representing 129 dioceses from around the country.

These include difficult economic, cultural or religious situations, extreme ignorance or poverty, and a certain psychological immaturity that makes couples afraid to enter into a permanent union.