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November 22, 2000


Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua, Archbishop of Philadelphia, announced today that the Pontifical Council for the Family has published a document entitled "Family, Marriage and 船e Facto' Unions." The 79 page document addresses the growing number of such "Unions" and the repeated attempts to confer legal validity upon them. 船e facto' unions include cohabitation of men and women without the benefit of marriage as well as same sex unions. Cardinal Bevilacqua said, "Family, Marriage and 船e Facto' Unions" addresses an alarming social problem, the growing number of couples living together sexually outside the institution of marriage. Such moral permissiveness endangers the family, society and the common good because it secularizes what God has intended as a holy bond 素rom the beginning.' Married couples give themselves freely and completely in order to share life and love with each other. With their children, they create the family, the basic unit and foundation of society."

"Family, Marriage and 船e Facto' Unions" is the result of a series of study meetings organized by the Pontifical Council for the Family in 1999 and early 2000. The Council acknowledged that this document addresses a problem that touches the very heart of human relations and noted that a word of guidance to those who have legislative responsibilities in this area is fitting. "It is they in their legislative task who can give juridical consistency to the institution of marriage or, on the contrary, based on an unreal understanding of personal problems, weaken the consistency of the common good that protects this natural institutional," according to the Council.

Cardinal Bevilacqua has spoken out on the issue of 租e facto' unions frequently. In September 1999, Cardinal Bevilacqua along with the other Catholic Bishops of Pennsylvania issued a document entitled Living Together: Questions and Answers Regarding Cohabitation and the Church's Moral Teaching. (Text available at In May 1993, he testified against Domestic Partners Legislation before Philadelphia City Council, calling the legislation anti-family.

Regarding the document issued by the Pontifical Council for the Family, Cardinal Bevilacqua said, "The Church and State have recognized the sanctity of the institution of marriage by protecting it with proper legislation. 船e facto' unions threaten the institution of marriage by secularizing and even trivializing it, making it a private relationship of convenience rather than a public and sacred bond of life and love. The document addresses the need to rediscover the existence of essential divine and human values which we can neither create nor destroy."

Editor's Note: "Family, Marriage and 船e Facto' Unions" is available on the Vatican web site at

Donna Crilley
Broadcast and Media Specialist

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