Really hard to draw conclusions based on your data. for example, the multiple sexual partners and divorce stat, may be more correlation than causation. I worry (and I'm sure this will be the biggest complaint) is that if we put this wonderful tool before engaged couples, of a year of formation, many will choose not to do this but instead either just cohabitate or just get civilly married. That is not to say even if that happens, that this is a bad idea. But going down from 68% of married Catholics being married in the church, would certainly not be desirable. Very complicated situation. And of course you can't just take this in isolation. We need better formation in all areas in the Catholic life. Hopefully the current Eucharistic 3 year revival will help renew the excitement of the church.

did the Pillar RAP survey look at marriage issue and other questions, to see if there was a trend between those married in the church vs those cohabitating vs those married civilly, towards other questions? Might be interesting

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It is honestly difficult to image a more effective way to push lukewarm Catholics away from marrying in the Church while outright antagonizing devout Catholics. It is sometimes necessary to wait more than a year to marry for various reasons, but indiscriminately forcing couples to wait so long is just obnoxious.

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I am a Millennial, and a convert to Catholicism (well, technically, a revert - baptized in the Church, raised in another faith community from then on). Permit me a couple of generational anecdotes.

(1) My husband's first attempted marriage was to a Catholic. As far as we can tell, she had no idea that as a Catholic, she had to follow special rules to get married.

(2) Most of my college friends are non-practicing Catholics - Christmas/Easter at most. Most of them aren't married yet. Those who are married, married outside the Church. We haven't kept in close touch, so I don't know whether they are innocently unaware of the Church's teachings about marriage for Catholics. However, based on previous conversations with them about the Church, I'd guess they do not in any case believe the Church has the moral authority to decide whether their marriage is valid in the eyes of God or not. (The one wedding I attended, their "Scripture Reading" was Kennedy's Obergefell decision. No, it wasn't a gay wedding. It was a statement wedding.)

(3) My brother, like me, was baptized Catholic as a small child and then raised in our mom's faith tradition. Apparently, neither Mom nor Dad knew that baptizing us into the Church gave us rights and responsibilities - I think they both were under the impression that it would be Confirmation that would place us under the Church's authority. So my brother's marriage is probably invalid, and he has no idea - and again, I don't think he would take it seriously if I told him, because he doesn't believe the Church has the authority to place that responsibility on him when he was never raised in the church.

So, out of the 6 baptized Catholics in my generation whose marriage situations I have personal knowledge of, I'm the only one who went through the proper channels, and I have good reason to believe I'm the only one who *knew/acknowledged that there was such a thing as a proper channel*.

Marriage catechumenate, for those already engaged, is a great idea that does not solve the actual problem.

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I will briefly imagine some alternate universe (with an appropriate numbering in the Marvel system) in which after confirmation *teenagers* are admitted to a program of formation which prepares them for courtship and marriage and which (waving my hands) is highly attractive to them and they voluntarily attend. This could be a backdrop for how different the lives of the X-Men or Avengers are in consequence since it would necessarily impact the whole of society to a greater degree than the mere existence of mutant superpowers (while being, admittedly, just as implausible).

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I've been thinking about this today. One of the recurring threads in Sacrament and Synod and liturgical discussions (and not just in this space) is - how on earth do we make this work for the different kinds of people who show up? What do we do in a Church that, ideally, encompasses *everybody*?

Well, traditionally speaking, as I understand it: diocesan governance, a high tolerance for diversity in local norms, and heavy reliance on the parish priest's judgment. Of course Trent came down hard on many of the liturgical spin-offs of the time; there have to be some limits. But it seems to me that you just can't impose lockstep unity on a global Church. Even at the parish level, the cracks show.

Is it even possible that we can move away from the top-down, one-size-fits-all rules and regulations that seem to be the new norm in Church governance, and toward a norm of subsidiarity, where decisions are made at the lowest level that's reasonable? I don't think this is a crazy idea. VII called for bishops to be respected as peers of the Pope and authorities in their own right.

However, it does seem to me that we've all started to see our bishops as middle management, and that has implications for everything that the bishops touch. Policies and procedures are what corporations do. The Church is a family. I don't set the same rules for my older and younger toddler, and those rulesets are both different from the rules my parents set for me. We all have the same non-negotiables, whether in the theology/morality realm or that of "children may not touch hot stoves"; but nobody's dying because I banned fashion dolls and let my 3yo mix the Play-Doh colors. Surely it's also not the end of the world if those with the 'care of souls' are allowed to decide what's best in individual situations.

(Yes, yes: there's a priest shortage; and they generally move every 7 years so how will they build relationships; and what will you do about accusations of favoritism or discrimination; and aren't you just giving power back to people who covered up abuse; and so on. But this doesn't seem like the kind of situation where we can get a perfect solution, just maybe a better one.)

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This document comes across as more micromanaging of something that can and should be handled at the diocesan/parish level. Does marriage prep need some reform? Probably. But does every couple need what Pope Francis is asking? Maybe, maybe not.

Should a priest/deacon be looking at the FOCCUS questionnaire, etc. and be bringing up red flags/warning signs of problems with the couple? Yes. Should he be trying to form them spiritually? Absolutely. But a lot of marriage prep comes down to the couple. If they don't put the effort into it, they're not going to get much out of it.

To share my our story, My wife and I have been married almost 9 years. We met in adoration and got to know each other through our young adult group. We dated about a year and a half, but we approached dating with the perspective that it was vocational discernment. We read things like Bishop Sheen's "Three to Get Married," Art Bennett's "The Temperament God Gave You," Dr. Sri's "Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love," and books along those lines. When we got engaged, we got a book called "Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts" by Les and Leslie Parrott, which I highly recommend for engaged couples (we've given it as an engagement gift to friends and family).

We had the normal six month prep period. Our discussion over the FOCCUS results took maybe 30 minutes. The only answers our priest flagged for discussion, it turned out, my wife and I just interpreted the questions differently. Our monthly meetings with him were built around Christ's teaching on marriage the theology of the body. We had NFP classes. We did the weekend-long Engaged Encounter (the other option was a day long conference), which was good, but at the same time it repeated a lot of discussions we've had since were dating.

I honestly don't know what else we could have done to prepare for our marriage. I don't know how I would have felt about a longer prep period at the time. But looking back on it now, I don't see how it would have been helpful or would have prepared us any better. But for another couple, those extra months might have been useful.

Tl;dr: every couple is different and the church needs to recognize that.

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In America, many couples do take about a year to plan their wedding. However, some (many??) don’t necessarily show up to the priest the day after they’re engaged to “start the clock”. Most parishes where I grew up (DC) had a 6 month minimum for wedding prep. I think extending things AFTER the wedding is a beautiful idea.

The other group this could hurt are faithful Catholics who plan a wedding for somewhere less than a year because they acknowledge the Church’s teaching & that chastity is difficult in that phase of life.

All that said, I guess we’ll have to wait for it to be promulgated.

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This kind of "sacramental prep" requirement antagonizes people because it's almost always administered in a rigid bureaucratic way that makes it an end in itself, rather than in a pastoral way that subordinates it to the importance of the sacrament. I think of baptism: many parishes and even whole dioceses require parents to submit a birth certificate for a baby before scheduling a baptism, which has nothing to do with the need for the sacrament, but can delay it by weeks or even months. It actually winds up being a sort of practical anti-catechesis, conveying to people the message that the sacrament really isn't that important, so just wait on the paperwork.

Instead of creating procedures and saying "everyone has to jump through these hoops before you can receive the sacrament," there should a renewed emphasis on what it actually means for people to be ready for a sacrament, and a requirement that pastors discern those things. *Then* maybe we could have some suggested, flexible procedures geared towards helping people get there. But bureaucracy is easier, so that's what tends to happen.

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I'm thinking of the Apostle Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch he had met a few hours before: "look, here is water, what is there to prevent me from being baptized?" We in modern times certainly have a long list of answers to that! They're just usually not *good* answers.

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I really don't understand why people are complaining about this.

Sure there might be some circumstances where a quick wedding might be needed. But the existence of emergency baptisms don't in anyway preclude the normal catechumenate as the normal way people are prepared for baptism.

I think most of the hesistancy to this comes from being accustomed to our modern, fast-paced lives, and our liberal, option-optimizing society. That the Church is encouraging us to slow down and reflect, and limit our choices sequentially, I think could be very fruitful.

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