What is the role of the Church on strengthening marriages?

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

With all due respect, it is our considered view that the Church should be the last institution to facilitate or make it much easier to break a marriage. The role of the Church should be to strengthen the sacrament of matrimony, instead of telling the faithfuls that it is now easier to renege from the spouses' commitment to each other. To state that the declaration of nullity is not to break the bond but to declare that there had been no authentic marital bond after all, is to admit that the Church too, along with the spouses, rushed into the marriage, without examining the antecedent or continuing impediments that might have constituted a just cause to annul a marital contract.

The announcement by Pope Francis, our much beloved Supreme Pontiff, that he has promulgated a more liberal set of rules to follow in declaring the nullity of marriages, to say the least, has indeed caught many Catholics in shocking surprise. The governments in many states all over the world have already weakened the institutions of both marriage and family. Same sex marriages, peremptory divorces, annulments, and other modes of break-ups have all presented serious and deadly attacks at the institution of marriage. The Church, instead of standing firmly to protect the sanctity of the sacrament of matrimony, has, instead decided to go with the flow, and loosened the matrimonial vinculum.

I have been married for thirty-seven years, and my wife and I have had many difficult and trying times. But we struggled to keep our marriage intact. I do not want to judge others but with the help of our respective parents, with the support of our five children and all our brothers and sisters, we always reconciled all our conflicts and managed to stay faithful to one another. We have a Marriage Encounter  community, the Magis Deo under Ateneo, where we meet every Friday, a small cell group of eight couples, and we always journey together, sharing our pains and victories in making our marriage strong and our family one and indivisible.

I expect the leadership of our Church to remain uncompromising in its promotion of, and defense for, the sacrament of marriage as an inviolable Catholic and state institution which we must all cherish and protect. Without a strong marriage, the family will be weakened. Without strong families, the nation will deteriorate, and become more and more vulnerable to internal and external attacks. The secular world is too preoccupied with material and physical satisfactions. The family should be considered as our first line of defense. What the Church has done, by liberalizing annulments, is, I am sad to say, to put the faithfuls' family in a grave and imminent danger of breaking up.

The role of the Church is to make sure that before any priest shall solemnize any marriage, it must exercise extra-ordinary diligence, not just the ordinary diligence of a'' bonum pater familium'' or the diligence of a good father of a family, to make sure that the putative spouses are mature enough and are equipped with the sound discretion and competent judgment to fulfill the essential obligations of a husband and a wife. If the spouses should be adequately prepared, the solemnizing officer should have the obligation to make sure that there is no antecedent or continuing impediment to vitiate consent.

The role of the Church is to support the Marriage Encounters and the Couples For Christ's many initiatives to strengthen the bonds of matrimony, and never, never to send the message that the Church is now loosening its vigilance in the defense of this sacrament which the Lord Jesus Himself instituted in the wedding in Cana. The Church should be more active in marriage counseling. The bishops and the priests should stand uncompromising in defending the sacrament from some rich and influential people who make a mockery of it, in the name of their whims and caprices, and their utter immaturity. I expect my Church to defend marriage, and never weaken it.

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