Last week, EWTN featured a broadcast of Evangelizing the Culture for Marriage and Family, a program that focused on explaining and defending what the Church teaches about marriage and family. Taking a positive approach, the program aired several different discussions over the week.
CE’s editor sat down with Bill May, President of Catholics for the Common Good, to discuss the broadcast and the Marriage Reality Movement.
Q: To start us out, what is Evangelizing the Culture for Marriage and Family?
Evangelization of culture, a term first used by Pope Paul VI in his Apostolic Exhortation on Evangelizing in the Modern World, means sharing the Gospel in a way that permeates culture. The true meaning of marriage has been lost in our time, with fewer choosing marriage as the foundation of their families, with less than half of children living in homes with married mothers and fathers, and with efforts to redefine marriage in law that would forbid promoting the unique value of men and woman marrying before having children.
This is a crisis that calls for concerted action to reintroduce marriage to the culture in a way that people can understand its truth, goodness and beauty. An important objective is to end the lies that the culture is feeding our children; lies that corrupt their understanding about the reality of marriage, family and sexuality, and influences the choices they make in their own lives.
Q: What inspired or brought this idea about?
We started working on this project eight years ago when we recognized that we were losing the battle to defend marriage and needed a fresh new approach. We started all over from the beginning and found all of the answers in the teachings and method of St. John Paul II and in the Church’s social doctrine. Considering Church teaching on rights of children to be born into a family with their moms and dads united in marriage, the objective becomes how to best organize a more just society rather than oppose anyone or anything. We also discovered how to translate Church teaching into non-religious language so all can understand and see the reasonableness of Catholic teachings.
Q: Who do you hope to reach with this program? Is it aimed for all Catholics or do you also hope to reach non-believers and non-practicing Catholics?
This movement is open to anyone who is interested in the work of rebuilding a marriage culture, a culture in which it is once again the norm for men and women to marry before having children and they are supported in their marriages. Counter intuitively, we hope to reach people who already agree with Church teaching on marriage and provide resources and opportunities for them to share the good news about marriage with others, starting within their own families.
Q: How has the response been, so far? Do you feel like this will help change the conversation on marriage and the family?
People are amazed by the approach and are so grateful to have positive messages about marriage that will help reveal truth and avoid conflict. The question is not whether this will help change the conversation about marriage and the family. It is whether enough people will recognize that we must change the conversation. As Einstein said, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
As people get involved in the Marriage Reality Movement information and training to help them understand that their efforts to witness the truth about marriage can be self-defeating because most of us base our arguments on false premises that we have unwittingly accepted from the lies the culture offers.
For example, while people argue against the idea that same-sex couples should be permitted to marry, there is no such thing in the law when marriage is redefined. In reality, the law is changed to eliminated man and women and replaced them with two people. When that happens, in reality the only civil institution that is specifically geared to unite children with their moms and dads is eliminated. So the question that must be asked is, “Do we need such an institution?” If the answer is no, “Then, why not?”
Marriage is more than an institution for loving adults. Marriage forms the community of life and love, as the Catechism teaches. Today, people remember the “love” but forget the “life.”
Q: How much of this has been inspired by the recent Synod on the Family?
None. We have been working on this project for over 8 years.
Q: You mentioned on your site that fewer and fewer people are seeking marriage. There has been a recent discussion on Catholic blogs about single Catholics. Does your program address that at all?
We see two impediments to marriage today that must be addressed. First is a lack of understanding of marriage as vocation and what it is. If young people don’t know what marriage is, how can they seek it for the right reasons? If, as many believe, it is merely about adult happiness then the union becomes contingent on the happiness of the marriage partners. That is not a basis for true love.
The second impediment to marriage has to do with the corrupted understanding young people are receiving from the culture regarding love, sexuality, and chastity. St. John Paul II has much to offer for new approaches to catechesis and non-religious curriculum suitable for even public schools, but the first step is to help people understand that we have a crisis that is impacting our own families and we must make a commitment to join a movement to do something about it.
Q: Finally, when will this air on EWTN and will it be available for purchase?
It aired on EWTN last week, but is available for purchase at takebackmarriage.org