This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.
Cardinal Farrell's message about priests' involvement in marriage prep is absolutely wrong
Posted on Tuesday, August 07, 2018
by Friend of Ruth, Joe DeVet
The following response was given to a volunteer for Engaged Encounter, who asked for an opinion on Cardinal Farrell's remark that priests don't have credibility in marriage preparation.
Cardinal Farrell's message about priests' involvement is absolutely wrong--when he says they have no credibility, leading to the conclusion that their
role in marriage prep should be minimal or none at all.
Certainly priests have a different perspective on marriage than married people do, by virtue of both their knowledge and pastoral experience. Their broader perspective is absolutely essential to the process. I also believe that we lay people have an important role to play. Between the witness of Holy Orders and Matrimony, a balanced and appropriate vision of the sacrament can be presented to those preparing for marriage. Which is one reason why Engaged Encounter works.
To be perfectly blunt about it, what is my own expertise? I'm an expert in one man's experience of marriage. And to a large degree, it means that I'm an expert in particular ways of screwing things up! It has been good priests (as well as good lay people) who have helped me, insofar as I have had success in my marriage.
A spectacular case in point: Pope St. John Paul II. The man who said of himself "I fell in love with human love," a sentiment which moved him to shepherd thousands of married and engaged couples directly, and millions through his ministries as Cardinal and Pope, and who was the foremost authority on human sexuality in the 20th Century, was a priceless resource on marriage and family life. The local priest for our Engaged Encounter weekends offers great guidance through the Church's authority, his personal credibility, and years of pastoral experience.
I know that certain lay people tell priests they have no credibility about marriage. What I would say to those priests is, don't be intimidated by such ignorance. Treat it like any other stupid idea--stay the course, preach the truth, build the Kingdom.
And if I were King of the World, I would immediately redeploy Cardinal Farrell to a place where he could do less damage--say Vatican Ambassador to Greenland.