US bishops told priests don’t like giving marriage advice

American Catholic bishops have been told that many priests admit they don’t feel comfortable giving guidance to couples on marital problems.

At their spring assembly, the bishops heard from three married couples speaking about marriage and the family.

One of the couples, Ricardo and Lucia Luzondo, raised the issue of seminarian and priest formation.

“We understand the importance of the study of theology and philosophy, Mr Luzondo told the bishops.

“But we have noticed from our personal conversations with many priests and seminarians and from the many comments of couples that constantly approach them to seek their guidance and advice on how to face their marital challenges that many times, they don’t feel competent or comfortable doing so,” he said.

“And for these reasons, oftentimes they limit or avoid their pastoral care of couples or even offer spouses counselling and advice that is not in line with the many pastoral letters on marriage.”

Spouses and couples in conflict “reach out to their churches for help when they face marital conflict”, Mr Luzondo said, even if they have not been to church in a long time.

“This is a prime opportunity for evangelisation,” he said.

The Luzondos, who have been married for 15 years, said there is a “great need” for more extensive formation and training for seminarians as well as enrichment for priests on attending to the pastoral needs of couples.

The Luzondos also questioned how well the Church helps engaged couples become active members of parish communities.

“Moreover, once they are married, it seems that we often fail to provide them with sufficient accompaniment and appropriate resources to maintain a happy and joyful marriage,” Mrs Luzondo said.

Claire and John Grobowski, who have been married for 30 years, in their message to the bishops noted: “It is impossible to have a strong marriage without Christian community.”

“The heart of how we grow in holiness in marriage is learning how to serve each other and ultimately to help each other get to heaven,” Mrs Grobowski said.


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