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Document Details :

Title: Marriage as a Sacrament for Young Adult Catholics
Author(s): BARRY, Robert J.
Journal: Marriage, Families & Spirituality
Volume: 14    Issue: 2   Date: 2008   
Pages: 181-194
DOI: 10.2143/INT.14.2.2034405

Abstract :
Catholics born and raised after the Second Vatican Council possess an attitude and understanding about marriage that is markedly different from that of pre-Vatican II Catholics. In response to the different cultural situation of their upbringing, post-Vatican II Catholics tend to relate to the Church’s teaching about marriage in one of two ways: either with an enthusiastic and faithful adherence to and promotion of the Catholic teachings about marriage, or with an unknowing indifference to such teachings. Theological writings and pastoral practices in the decades after the Second Vatican Council that have sought to address the issues and concerns of pre-Vatican II Catholics fail to address the pastoral needs of Generation X and Y Catholics. Writings that characterize a marriage between two 'baptized unbelievers' as valid but non-sacramental misunderstand the pastoral problem of these younger generations and attempt a solution grounded in an inadequate theology of marriage as a sacrament. In fact, considering such marriages as valid but non-sacramental would excuse and exclude the majority of post-Vatican II Catholics from active participation in the true lay ministry that marriage constitutes. Instead, this article argues that young Catholics are best served by the reaffirmation of a theology of marriage that emphasizes the intrinsically sacramental nature of the marital bond, even in the case of a marriage between 'baptized unbelievers'. Rather than being diminished or rejected, the role of spouses as ministers of the grace operative in the sacrament of marriage can be the seed for a renewed and fruitful faith of the couples themselves, the families they raise and the Church as a whole.

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