Bishops To Debate, Vote On Pastoral Letter On Marriage At November Meeting

USCCB News Release

October 14, 2009

Bishops To Debate, Vote On Pastoral Letter On Marriage At November Meeting

WASHINGTON—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will vote on the approval of a pastoral letter on marriage at their November 16-19 fall general assembly in Baltimore. The letter, “Love and Life in the Divine Plan,” is an important component of the Bishops’ National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage that began in 2004 (see

The pastoral letter is written with a broad and diverse audience in mind – ranging from young unmarried adults to married couples to those who offer pastoral ministries to those whose work informs and shapes opinion and public policy about marriage. The bishops write, “We address this pastoral letter first and foremost to the Catholic faithful in the United States. In a spirit of witness and service we also offer our message to all men and women in the hope of inspiring them to embrace this teaching.”

The letter presents the essential points of Catholic teaching on marriage that are foundational for understanding the nature and purposes of marriage, for living it faithfully, and for preserving and defending it as a necessary and unique social institution.

“Our pastoral letter is an invitation to discover, or perhaps rediscover, the blessing given when God first established marriage as a natural institution and when Christ restored and elevated it as a sacramental sign of salvation,” the bishops write.

“Today, more than ever, people are asking whether and how it is possible to make and keep a lifetime commitment in a marriage,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, chairman of the Bishops’ Subcommittee on Marriage and Family and a key person in the development of the pastoral letter. “The Catholic Church has a vision for marriage that can sustain spouses in good times and in bad times – one that can lead them to happiness and holiness in their relationship. This message is based on both reason and faith; it is God’s plan for the good of the spouses, their children and family, and society as a whole.”

At the conclusion of the pastoral letter the bishops “urge a renewed commitment by the entire Catholic community to helping those called to the vocation of married life to live it faithfully, fruitfully, and joyfully.” They make a “pledge to be a marriage-building Church, drawing strength from God’s grace while creatively using the gifts and resources entrusted to us.”
In the coming years the bishops have adopted strengthening marriage as one of their five national priorities. “This letter will be the launch for several new projects that will offer resources for local pastoral ministries,” said Dr. Richard McCord, the Executive Director of the USCCB Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. “We also plan to continue developing what has already been successful, especially a public service media campaign on the good effects of marriage as well as our popular website,, that provides an abundance of practical materials for engaged and married couples.”