"Nowadays who is making an effort to strengthen marriages, to help married couples overcome their problems, to assist them in the work of raising children and, in general, to encourage the stability of the marriage bond?"
This is a key question in Pope Francis' recently released apostolic exhortation on family life, Amoris Laetitia. The Holy Father posed the question (No. 52) in a section of the document that enumerates current economic, social and cultural challenges to stable marriage and family life as understood by the Catholic Church.
The pontiff's document -- which serves as a follow-up to the Synods of Bishops on the Family held in 2014 and 2015 -- stresses the vital role Catholics play in combatting those challenges, citing "the church’s efforts to offer guidance and counselling in areas related to growth in love, overcoming conflict and raising children" (No. 38).
Thanks to a variety of initiatives taking place locally, the Diocese of Rochester is doing its part to provide married couples and families with the kind of support and accompaniment emphasized by Pope Francis.
Stories on the following pages highlight programs offering help for couples at all stages of married life: couples preparing for marriage; those who are raising families; those wishing to enrich their marriages, and others seeking help for troubled marriages. Opportunities also exist in the diocese for the divorced and widowed -- people Pope Francis notes in Amoris Laetitia also are deserving of our care and concern.
Several of the local efforts addressing marriage and family life are extensions of national programs and have been conducted in this diocese for several decades, supporting thousands of people along the way.