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September 14, 1999


Pennsylvania's Catholic bishops today issued a new document entitled, "Living Together: Questions and Answers Regarding Cohabitation and the Church's Moral Teaching." The document, in a question/answer format, includes ten questions such as: "Why is cohabitation such a concern for the Church?" "Why can't I just follow my conscience if I believe living together is okay?" "What is the best way to prepare ourselves spiritually for our upcoming marriage?" The document also includes a personal letter to engaged couples from the bishops of Pennsylvania as well as eight questions for reflection and prayer.

"This document addresses those who are either living together outside of marriage or who may be considering the possibility of cohabitation," said Cardinal Bevilacqua. "The Bishops recognize the practice is common today and are deeply troubled by it for many reasons. We are concerned about the inherent moral problems of such a lifestyle as well as the increasingly recognized negative effects it is having on couples, the institution of marriage and family life. Most Catholics know that the Church teaches that living together outside of marriage is immoral. However, many couples do not understand why the Church believes it has a role in their relationship or why the Church so strongly opposes this practice. By addressing the fundamental arguments often raised by unmarried couples living together, this document seeks to make a difference in the lives of those who read it by clearly articulating the truths of faith and human life."

"‘The very preparation for Christian marriage is itself a journey of faith,' notes Pope John Paul II. The time of engagement and planning for marriage is an opportunity for couples to grow not only in love but also in faith as well as those human virtues necessary for a lifetime commitment to one another," said Cardinal Bevilacqua. "As Bishops, we have the responsibility to assist our engaged couples in growing closer to Christ and to help them prepare in the most suitable way possible for the sacrifices and joys of married life."

"Many unmarried couples, perhaps, have not fully considered the ramifications of living together. I encourage them to do so now by reading, studying and reflecting on this document. I join my brother bishops in asking unmarried couples who are living together to separate in order to be right with God and to grow in their love for one another," said Cardinal Bevilacqua. "Taking this step, along with a prayerful reflection on this document and the assistance of a priest, will allow couples to think about their future as well as their commitments to each other and to God in a deeper way. Their preparation for marriage truly will become a time for them to strengthen their virtues and will assist them in creating a strong and lasting marriage and family life. "

"If more marriages are to succeed, then couples must move beyond living together without commitment. I hope this document will help all Catholics, but especially unmarried couples living together, to understand the relevance of God's laws in their lives, " said Cardinal Bevilacqua.


Cathy Rossi
Director of Communications

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