Is the Church doing something wrong? Why are more people opting for weddings that have nothing to do with a church?
Details, from the Providence-Journal in Rhode Island:
Michaela Connors-Mare never set out to marry outside the Catholic Church. It just turned out that way.
It was 2005. Michaela, then 29, had met Nelson Mare when he came the previous August from Portugal to visit his parents, who lived next door to her in Washington Park. Now they were engaged — and eager to wed.
“There was no urgency, except that we were in love,” she recalls. “ We were thinking we could get married in four or five weeks.”
Michaela, a life-long Catholic, had been baptized and confirmed, and even had led religious-education classes. Nelson, too, had grown up a devout Catholic. When Michaela called St. Paul’s parish in Cranston to arrange a date, she thought there would be no problem.
She was wrong.
“They asked if I was registered in the parish, which I was not. Then they told me we needed to be engaged and be coming to the church for at least six months to a year. I started calling other parishes, and got the same thing. …
“I got fed up with the church at that point. I ended up having a big wedding outside” — at the Gatehouse on the East Side — “and had a judge marry us. My family was furious with us — and they still are.”
Michaela and her husband are far from the only Catholics in Rhode Island who have married without the benefit of a church wedding, if they get married at all. While the overall number of marriages slipped by 17 percent in Rhode Island between 1969 and 2009, the number of Catholic weddings in this most heavily Catholic state dropped far more severely. It plunged 71 percent — from 4,452 a year to just 1,300.
The Rev. Joseph D. Santos Jr., pastor of Holy Name Church in Providence, contends that the falloff in Catholic weddings has its roots in the 1970s. That, he says, is when Catholic educators started revamping religious education and “basically destroyed or watered down” traditional teachings to the extent that increasing numbers of Catholics no longer understand what marriage and sexuality are about.