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ARCC News 2018
Prophets of a Future Not Our Own (20180101) 2018: Time to Become Ultra-Human? (20180118) Time for a Bonfire of Their Vanities? (20180122) Until All Are Welcome My House, My Rules: 3 Women "Rejected" (20180208) Policing the Communion Line (20180205) A Time to Judge (20180212) Mary McAleese Being Banned is Embarrassing (20180219) Correct, Don't Complicate Excommunication (20180226) Catholic Tradition, Labour, and Organizing Workers (20180305) Misogyny in the Vatican (20180312) The Unofficial Saint of the Internet (20180318) Francis Invites Change, But We Are the Change (20180325) Rediscovering the Role of Mary Magdalene as Apostle of the Apostles (20180401) Synodality and its Perils (20180409) Get rid of the clergy - But keep Holy Orders (20180415) Renewing the Program of Priestly Formation (20180429) Male and Female, in the image and likeness of God (20180506) Wedding Bans: Why Do Parishes Turn Young Couples Away? (20180513) Christian Humanism, the Path to the Divine (20180520) Mary - Prophet and Priest (20180527) A Wake-Up Call to Liberal Theologians (20160603) Canonization is right for Oscar Romero (20180610) Could the Church take a risk? (20180618) AJC expresses "Profound Concern" over beatification (20180624) The Bible's #MeToo Problem (20180701) 'Humanae Vitae' and the census fidelium (20180715) The Catholic Church wasn't always so against contraception (20180722) 50 years later, scientist's findings on birth control... (20180729) #MeToo, Your Excellency The Catholic Church needs a way to deal with bad bishops (20180812) The Catholic Church is tempted by power and obsessed with sex (20180819) Real change against abuse... (20180826) Pope Francis is facing a crisis of justice (20180829) Catholics Are Facing a Very Real Emergency (20180902) Truth and its violent consequences (20180909) The Third Millennial Catholic Reformation (20180917) Reality in an Historical-Critical Perspective (20180923) Both Prudential & Indisputable (20180930) Catholic Crossroads and Catholic Conflict (20181007) Schism or Evolution? (20181015) Theology: Stones or Bread? (20181028) White Christian America (20181102) Stone Throwing. Or Not. (20181104) Young People, Hope for the Church(es) (20181112) Who Represents the Laity? (20181118) Open Letter to the US Catholic Bishops: It's Over (20181125) From Collegiality to Synodality (20181203) The Birth of the Messiah (20181217) A Non-traditional Blessing for 2019 (20181231)
ARCC News 2019 Changing Power Relationships


Wedding Bans: Why Do Parishes Turn Young Couples Away? (20180513)

Wedding Bans: Why Turn Young Catholic Couples Away?


Contemporary Catholic Belief and Action


Wedding Bans
Why Do Parishes Turn Young Catholic Couples Away?
Most of the reaction to Amoris laetitia has focused on whether and under what circumstances divorced-and-remarried Catholics might receive communion. While the attention given to this question is understandable, we should not overlook the much broader topic of marriage preparation itself, which is another fundamental pastoral concern that Pope Francis addresses in the apostolic exhortation. An experience of mine with a recently-engaged couple (I will call them John and Mary) vividly illustrates the significant pastoral implications of marriage preparation. 
Both John and Mary wanted their wedding in the Catholic Church. Both were baptized. Both were raised Catholic. This would be the first marriage for both. However, neither John nor Mary were currently members of a parish, though they certainly intended to be "once their life settled down a bit."
As John and Mary began to inquire about a Catholic wedding, many of the parishes they went to simply would not discuss possible wedding dates until they had officially registered as parishioners. Indeed, a few of the parishes stated that they would require six months of "active membership" before wedding preparation could begin and any date-setting could be entertained. "Well," you might think, "that's just parish policy." However, there is another consideration: John and Mary were not unwilling to become parishioners (even active ones), but they reasonably hoped to become members of the parish where they would celebrate the sacrament of marriage.
Of course this process would be simpler if John and Mary had not drifted away from their home parishes after Confirmation, but their lives unfolded like those of many young Catholics today. They left home to go to college, moved again for graduate school, and then kept moving for first and second jobs and cheaper rents.
Getting engaged is a true turning point for young Catholic couples like John and Mary. For the first time as adults, they began to consider how their faith would shape their future lives now that they saw themselves "settling down" together. But in the meantime, without a confirmed church and date for the wedding, their attempts to finalize the caterer, photographer, and florist remained on hold. They simply couldn't move forward.
One parish secretary accused them of "church shopping." A pastoral associate at a different parish, during their first meeting, bluntly asked whether they were living together. The pastor of another parish said that he hesitates to allow any non-members to celebrate the sacrament of marriage there because they might not return after their wedding day.
Even if these are legitimate concerns, should they be the primary ones when a couple has deliberately presented themselves precisely to live their faith as a couple?
When Pope Francis presided at the wedding of twenty couples in St. Peter's Basilica in 2014, commentators quickly observed that one couple already had children, some had previously been married, and others were already living together. But this inclusive welcome of young couples should not have been all that surprising given what Francis had written earlier in Evangelii guadium. In this, his first major teaching as pope, Francis acknowledged that "the Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak." He also lamented that too often those entrusted with pastoral responsibility "act as arbiters of grace rather than its facilitators."

Rev. Michael L. Hahn, OSB, a Benedictine monk of Saint John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, is currently a doctoral candidate at Boston College.
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