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Bishops adopt a national policy for Pre-Marriage Education

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has agreed to adopt a national policy on Marriage Preparation for the Catholic Church in Australia.

The Policy Document evolved from a discussion paper presented to the Annual Meeting of the Catholic Society for Marriage Education at Perth in 1994 and was presented in its current form to the Bishops by the Family Working Group.

"The Bishops of Australia wanted to reinforce their support for marriage preparation and the important role it plays in the Sacrament of Marriage," said the Chairman for the Bishops' Committee for Family and for Life, Archbishop Len Faulkner. "The policy document is descriptive rather than prescriptive so we hope it will be easily adapted into existing diocesan pre-marriage programs."

"Although pre-marriage education is not strictly a pre-requisite for marriage in the Catholic Church it is undoubtedly becoming the trend," said the Chairman. "In a way, this policy document is simply formalising those practices which are generally followed in our dioceses at the present time."

Pre-marriage education programs aim to cover two important areas. Firstly, the Catholic understanding of marriage and secondly, the practical experience of marriage.

"We like engaged couples to know the crucially central and important role God should be playing in their marriage," said Archbishop Faulkner. "We also like to help them with practicalities such as conflict resolution, sexual intimacy and budgeting for the household."

"The other beauty of these programs is that they initialise a dialogue between the Church and the newly married couple and we hope they will always feel comfortable in coming to us once they are married to share their joys, hopes and frustrations," said the Chairman. Policy on Marriage Preparation Adopted by the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference at the May 2001 Plenary Meeting.

The full text is available on the Bishops' website.