The Roman Catholic Church in Spain has recently introduced a new programme that will require engaged couples to enroll in a two-to-three year course designed to prepare people for marriage. This decision was created in the hopes of lowering the country’s high divorce rates.
Couples wanting to marry in a Roman Catholic Church in Spain are currently required to participate in 20 hours of marriage training, but priests argue that this is not enough time to prepare for a life-time promise.
Speaking at a press conference, Monsignor Mario Iceta, the bishop of Bilbao and the president of the conference’s subcommittee for the family and the defence of life said, “You can’t prepare for marriage in 20 hours. To be a priest, you need to spend seven years in the seminary, so what about being a husband, wife, mother or father? Just 20 hours?”
The high divorce rate is a cause for concern for many priests. Spain currently has the second-highest divorce rate in the world after Luxembourg. Many blame the “express divorce” law, which speeds up the process of divorce by removing the need for a trial separation. While there is no official data for the last few year, it is estimated that the rate sits at 60%.
To remedy this, the Spanish Episcopal Conference announced their latest voluntary programme for engaged couples called ‘On the Path Together’, designed to “accompany, prepare and help young couples towards the matrimonial vocation”.
The course is divided into 12 sections that focus on different aspects of a relationship, including ‘communication’, ‘fidelity’, ‘the beauty of sexuality’, and ‘conflict resolution’. Couples participating in the course will be required to attend the fortnightly sessions and practice ‘chastity’ throughout.
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