Fr Stefan reflects on the state of marriage and divorce synod of marriage

I was ordained on May 18, 1996. I remember going to my first parish. There were 4 priests in the parish at that time. One priest was an elderly pastor, and the other was a resident priest. The two vicars did most of the wedding. I remember having about 25 couples at any given time. The other associate had at least as many wedding. Today I doubt if that parish has more than 10 wedding a year. At my next parish we did lots of wedding. We had 3 slots for wedding on Saturday, and every Saturday we had at least one wedding, and on many Saturdays we did 3 wedding.

As the years went on I noticed a trend. There were fewer and fewer couples getting married. At first I thought it was the parishes that I happen to be at. I have soon realized that this trend is at most parishes. Here is an example, at my last parish I checked the books and discovered that there were 125 marriages in 2002. This year I expect that number to be less than 20. I checked the numbers here at my present parish. Ten years ago there was 55 wedding. This year there will be 30 wedding.

It is said that a vast majority of people in RCIA, by some accounts 70 percent, are there because of an upcoming wedding. Their spouse is Catholic. Also, if the parents are not married there is less likely hood of them having their kids baptized and putting there kids in CCD. In some culture that are culturally Catholic this is not the case. Parents who not married or divorced want their kids to be baptized, and put their kids into ccd. However, America is not culturally Catholic so this will not be the case in most instances. This is one of the reasons many parishes will see a downturn in church attendance.

The Washington Post wrote, ” Since 1990, the divorce rate for Americans over the age of 50 has doubled, and more than doubled for those over the age of 65. At a time when divorce rates for other age groups has stabilized or dropped, fully one out of every four people experiencing divorce in the United States is 50 or older, and nearly one in 10 is 65 or older, according to a new report by Susan L. Brown and I-Fen Lin, sociologists at Bowling Green State University. Elena Stancanelli, a senior researcher at the Paris School of Economics, was equally shocked when she analyzed divorce data in France and discovered that French couples who’d been married for 35 or 40 years are now as likely to divorce as couples who’ve been married for five years.”

Today the divorce rate is over 50 percent. We are now in the 3rd generation that has know divorce on a wide scale. Many children are coming from divorced parents who are themselves coming from divorce parents. What this means is that children from divorce parents are less likely to get married, and if they get married they are more likely to get divorced. Cohabitation has become the new things. There are now more couples living together than married.

All this has profound implication. For one thing this trend is not only going to continue it will increase.
This is one of reason that Pope Francis has called for a synod on the family.

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