Sudanese Christians have condemned the sentencing of a Christian woman to death by hanging after she married a Christian man.

Published in International

ROME - Catholic politicians and judges who support laws in conflict with Church teaching on abortion, euthanasia, marriage and related issues commit "sacrilege" and cause "grave scandal" if they receive Communion, said the U.S. cardinal who heads the Vatican's highest court.

Published in International

Pope Francis likes to say that he prefers to raise questions rather than issue edicts or change doctrine, and he has certainly generated plenty of debate with his off-the-cuff remarks about gays and his cold-call chats on topics like divorce and Communion, as happened recently with a woman in Argentina.

Published in International

MANCHESTER, England - Members of Britain's House of Commons voted, 400-175, to allow same-sex marriage, pushing a controversial piece of legislation closer to becoming law.

Published in International

VATICAN CITY - A lack of faith in God can damage marriage, even to the point of affecting its validity, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Published in Vatican

TORONTO - Being married matters to the health of mothers and possibly to the health of their children, a new study by Marcelo Urquia has found.

Published in Canada

TORONTO - It’s one thing to have a good marriage, it’s another thing to have a great one, and that’s what a Marriage Encounter weekend can offer.

“You really are disconnected from the world for a weekend and investing in your relationship,” said David Adams, co-county co-ordinator for the English Toronto district of Worldwide Marriage Encounter with his wife, Lucy. “Really the basis of the weekend is to help couples learn a communication technique called dialoguing.”

This is done by essentially sequestering a group of couples, in the case of the upcoming Nov. 2-4 weekend at Mississauga’s Four Points Sheraton, and having them discuss specific topics with their significant others.

Each topic is first discussed in front of the group of participating couples by one of the presenting couples who have already completed the regular week and a more intensive training version. These presentations last between 30 and 40 minutes.

Twelve topics of discussion are presented during the weekend after which all participants privately reflect on their personal feelings regarding the topic. These reflections are then shared with the respective spouses.

“It’s more than just the topic, it’s about being able to listen, to get the feelings behind the topic,” said David Adams.

“It’s really about understanding who you each are.”

Topics include defining the type of listener you are, determining the personality of your partner and sex.

“Each topic follows each other so beautifully and by the time you get to the end, which is the sacrament, it’s like this yearning to really almost make that new commitment to each other, that bigger commitment,” said Lucy Adams. “It just gives (couples) a whole program to experience other couples openly sharing their lives and vulnerabilities.”

But it doesn’t end on the Sunday. The group is encouraged to establish a sharing circle.

According to Lucy Adams, about 80 per cent of couples successfully establish these groups with a small percentage of those who do not returning for a second weekend.

These groups meet monthly and practice the dialogue technique. This strengthens the ability to communicate and in turn the marriage.

“It allows couples that were together, in a very condensed and simplified format, to continue that weekend,” said David Adams. “We’d like to see couples continue to be connected with the Worldwide Marriage Encounter community and keep it alive in their marriage.”

Worldwide Marriage Encounter, the facilitating organization of the weekends, began in Spain with Fr. Gabriel Calvo in 1961. By the end of 1967 Marriage Encounter weekends had begun in North America starting in New York. Worldwide Marriage Encounter is active in more than 90 countries, in a variety of languages and focus on different faiths, but all have a consistent format.

“There might be some regional subtleties but the whole format and the desire behind it are consistent,” said David Adams.

Although the weekends co-ordinated by the Adams are Roman Catholic based, inter-faith couples are still encouraged to come — David Adams was an Anglican when he attended in the spring of 1995 but has since converted to the Catholic faith.

For those interested in the November weekend, or one scheduled for April 19-21, call Cora or Mike Bryce at (905) 896-2958.

Published in Vatican

HAMILTON, ONT. - What is the secret to a long and happy marriage? Communication and being able to understand each other’s point of view, say Eugene and Regina Jasin. They should know — the couple, natives of Lithuania, are celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary this year.

They were among 475 couples recognized by the diocese of Hamilton for celebrating 25, 40, 50 and 60 or more years of married life in 2012 during the annual Wedding Anniversary Mass at the Cathedral of Christ the King on Sept. 9. The Mass was celebrated by Hamilton Bishop Douglas Crosby.

The Jasins said although seven decades have passed, they cannot remember one time when they had a serious argument. This is despite the fact they have experienced some terrible stresses, such as fleeing for Germany on horseback with their infant daughter in the face of the communist takeover of their land during the Second World War.

“The main thing you have to understand is the other person, because it’s not exactly the same as what you’re thinking,” said Eugene. “The other person has different thoughts, so you have to accept what someone else thinks and talk it over.”

Ron and Mary Smithson were at the Mass having celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary just the day before. They have been imparting their wisdom about married life to couples for well over two decades as founding members of the marriage preparation course in their parish of St. Francis Xavier in Stoney Creek, Ont.

“We were busy all our lives and didn’t have a lot of material wealth, but we had a lot of love and a lot of family,” said Mary.

“We always worked together raising the family; it wasn’t just her job or my job,” added Ron. “It was our job and that’s the way we looked at life all the way. We’ve had some good times and bad times, but we get through them all. One of the blessings is we were married on Sept. 8 … that’s Our Lady’s birthday and that’s someone who has been in our life all along.”

The Smithsons point to compromise, openness, honesty and not emphasizing material goods as key aspects to a successful marriage.

“Marriage is about compromise. What you were before you were married and what you are after is going to change. But both of you change,” said Ron.

During his homily, Crosby said the couples in the church served as a testament and witness to God’s goodness and love.

“Today is a day of celebration, a celebration of enduring love and fulfilled commitment,” he said. “It is both a reminder and a renewal of the promises made on the day you married many years ago.”

He added that each couple present was a living reminder of God’s love and its permanence. “Your marriages tell all of us, but especially young people, that lasting love is possible,” he said.

Crosby spent some two hours in the parish hall after the Mass, meeting each of the couples and posing for photos with them.

Teresa Hartnett, director of the diocese’s Family Ministry Office, said the Wedding Anniversary Mass has been held annually for some three decades and is a reflection of the Church’s desire to honour a foundational vocational aspect of the Catholic faith.

“It’s just continued to grow and grow every year,” she said, adding the event is also a part of the diocese’s overall commitment to strengthening family life, in addition to the Retrouvaille program for troubled marriages, Marriage Encounter weekends, marriage enrichment evenings and referrals for counselling.

(Gosgnach is a freelance writer in Hamilton, Ont.)

Published in Features

MAYNOOTH, Ireland - The Vatican official who will act as papal legate for the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin defended marriage based on the church's traditional teaching and urged Catholics to use the resource of the family to confront the challenges of secularized societies.

Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, head of the Congregation for Bishops, made his comment in his keynote address to open the International Theology Symposium at St. Patrick's College June 6.

Published in Vatican

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - North Carolina voters headed to the polls May 8 to decide whether to define traditional marriage in the state constitution -- an issue on which the state's two Catholic bishops have been vocal in urging people in their dioceses to support.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh and Bishop Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte have spent months educating the faithful about church teaching on marriage and encouraging people to vote for the constitutional amendment, ever since the measure was placed on the ballot by the Republican-led state legislature last fall.

Published in International

It’s a sad irony that during this past Lenten season of holiness, all around me marriages and families were falling apart.

There were stories of fathers leaving their families after infidelity, as if he’s Eddie Fisher and she’s Elizabeth Taylor. Wives sunk into despair waiting for prodigal spouses to return. Some fathers were shunned by their children, others remained home with little remorse, bringing pain to their children and spouses who were left to wonder about the adulterous act. Frankly, there was enough drama for a BBC mini-series. Except for one crucial difference — this was reality.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out

OTTAWA - Amid challenges Catholics are facing in the area of marriage and human sexuality, the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) gave John Paul II’s teachings on the Theology of the Body (TOB) top billing at its third “Seminar on the Family.”

Catholic weddings have decreased 74 per cent in Canada over the past 34 years. The picture is similar in the United States and other Western countries, said Christian and Christine Meert, directors of the office of marriage and family life in the Colorado Springs diocese.

Among Catholics who choose a church wedding, 90 per cent of engaged couples are already sexually active, using artificial contraception and planning to continue using it after marriage, the couple said. They said Catholic priests and marriage preparation leaders may be reluctant to bring up the Church’s teachings on human sexuality for fear of scaring away young people.

Published in Canada

TRENTON, N.J. - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Feb. 17 made good on his pledge to veto a bill legalizing same-sex marriage passed by the state Legislature but at the same time said he might name an ombudsman to make sure the state's current law recognizing civil unions is respected.

The state Assembly passed the bill Feb. 16 with a 42-33 vote. The state Senate approved it 24-16 Feb. 13.

Published in International

Edmonton - In the eyes of Fr. Jack Gallagher, sociologists have proven Catholic teaching on sexuality and marriage right.

“Study after study” shows that the ideal place for children to be raised is with their two birth parents, said Gallagher.

“It’s astounding to me that the empirical evidence is so clear,” he said. “I thought there would be general evidence in favour of the Catholic teaching. On point after point, the sociologists have simply proven it true.”

Published in Canada

One thing the “great gay divorce crisis of January 2012” has shown is that our government can move fast when it feels a need to get something important done. The same-sex marriage debacle lasted all of about three days and ended with the government assuring all gay couples who married here, but do not reside here, that not only is their marriage valid but they can come here any time to enjoy the weather, curling and get a divorce.

Meantime, the government’s office of religious freedom, promised almost a year ago during the federal election campaign, still sits in limbo with no details being released to the public about what such an office would look like or when it might open.

Published in Guest Columns