January 14, 2011
WASHINGTON—Two separate marriage initiatives in February affirm the priority of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to support and strengthen marriage, said Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, who oversees the bishop’s efforts in this area.
In a January 13 letter to all Catholic bishops of the United States, Bishop Rhoades, the new chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, highlighted World Marriage Day, National Marriage Week USA and numerous resources offered by the USCCB, saying, “I encourage you to share this information with the clergy and lay leaders of your diocese so that together we might strive to become ‘marriage building’ communities of faith and action.”
World Marriage Day, which is promoted by Worldwide Marriage Encounter, is being sponsored Sunday, February 13, in U.S. dioceses and parishes. Its theme is “Love One Another.”
“World Marriage Day received the Apostolic Blessing of John Paul II in 1993,” noted Bishop Rhoades. “It has continued to grow and spread among many countries and faith expressions ever since.”
Bishop Rhoades also highlighted National Marriage Week USA, which will be observed February 7-14 with the theme “Let’s Strengthen Marriage.”
“This project—now in its second year—is a collaborative effort to influence the culture by faith communities, business, media, education, and non-profit groups,” said Bishop Rhoades, one that is working to “focus national attention on the need to strengthen marriage,” launching “new efforts for marriage education and crisis intervention,” and promoting “a message about the benefits of marriage.”
Bishop Rhoades noted that National Marriage Week USA also recognizes that children are best served when raised in the context of a marriage with a father and a mother.
Bishop Rhoades also recommended numerous online resources of the USCCB, including www.foryourmarriage.organd its Spanish counterpart www.portumatrimonio.org; the pastoral letter on marriage, Love and Life in the Divine Plan, www.usccb.org/loveandlife; advocacy resources on why marriage should be promoted as the union of a man and a woman, www.marriageuniqueforareason.org; a collection of briefing papers entitled “Making A Case for Marriage, a collection of essays, teaching materials, and resources for prayer and celebration developed for Catechetical Sunday 2010, the theme of which was “Matrimony: Sacrament of Enduring Love, and cards with a “Prayer for Married Couples” in English and Spanish, available in packages of 100 from USCCB Publications (www.usccbpublishing.org).
Keywords: Bishop Kevin Rhoades, Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, Love and Life in the Divine Plan, For Your Marriage, letter, World Marriage Day, National Marriage Week USA
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