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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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Counseling for Catholic Marriages

Catholics with marital problems should have readily available avenues within the Church for professional counseling in the hopes of salvaging their marriages.

More can be done to prepare priests for this kind of work but I think there is also a need for full-time professionals with training in psychology and intervention-counseling. These counselors should be well-versed with the Catholic faith. If they are not on the same page with us about human sexuality and the value of marriage, then they can escalate a problem instead of being part of the solution.

  • When red lights appear in the Pre-Cana preparation, referrals can be made before marriages in the Church.
  • When problems develop within marriages, referrals can be made to facilitate healing or reconciliation.
  • When questions arise about sexual identity and remaining in good standing with the Church, referrals might be made to assist people in coping and to counteract bias from non-Catholic sources.

While there are good independent counselors who charge fees, I would also recommend that there be professionals hired directly by the Church. Their salaries might be shared between parishes as within deaneries. They would work closely with pastors, while preserving confidentiality, to either prevent bad marriages or to salvage troubled ones. Such staffing should be viewed as serious as religious education directors, office managers and bookkeepers. In any case, a public list of counselors vetted by the Archdiocese should be readily available to pastors and the people they serve.

Catholic marriage counseling is necessarily different from that which is offered by those who do not share our understanding of marriage or our views about human sexuality. These counselors need to discern how a troubled Catholic marriage might be fixed. The truths of faith are integrated into our appreciation of psychology. The goal is to have couples living a daily vocation where there is both joy and sacrificial love. Marriage is viewed as a covenant and as a permanent union. Too many quickly jump to divorce as the answer. Catholics should see that as an option generally taken off the table.

Instead of urging an immediate divorce, a separation might be promoted so as to further the conversation or to prevent verbal and/or physical abuse. If a marriage has terminal problems and cannot be salvaged, then the counselor might suggest an annulment. That is where the pastor and/or the officials on a Church Tribunal would enter the picture. However, this is inherently always a sad or tragic situation. It means that avenues to save a marriage have failed.

Right now we have noble efforts like Retrouvaille but there is a pressing need for something more clinical.

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One Response

  1. No, thank you. My mind has reached moral certainty regarding Jorge Bergoglio and the direction of the Catholic Church.

    FATHER JOE: Your mind closed itself off even when Benedict was Pope. I see no mental deliberation here. Anger and calumny adds nothing to the discussion. You have made yourself plain that you want nothing to do with the Church and go so far as to repudiate prayers on your behalf. The failure of your marriage is the fault of your wife and YOU… not the Church. She applied for an annulment and it was NOT granted. You got your way in this and still you are not satisfied. You demanded that the Church order your wife to return to the marriage. And yet, why would you think she would listen to the Church? You are angry that she is not excommunicated. You are angry that she and the man with whom she associates regularly takes communion. How do you know? Do you follow them? How would most priests know their sins? Confessors would break the seal if they acted on what they know from the Confessional. They wear no scarlet letter on their foreheads advertising their sin. I am not sure you would be happy even if you saw her and her partner in adultery burning in the flames of hell? But I will warn you again, you need to escape this hell that you have fashioned for yourself. I have long grieved and prayed for you. However, I will not give approbation to your enmity and self-destruction.

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