11: Family and Marriage


Cardinal Bernardin also analyzes the widespread topic of pregnancy at very young age in the United States. When teenage girls are not offered a proper education, a job, and a realistic prospect for self-improvement, they can make wrong choices.

Moreover, providing contraceptive services in school-based clinics merely escapes the problem, and encourages young people to engage in sexual behavior by giving it a veneer of social acceptability. Furthermore, along with a permissive attitude toward premature sexual activity, we send young people the message that casual sex is a socially acceptable norm.

A real solution – the Archbishop of Chicago says – is a strong education that helps teenagers develop into sexually mature adults. Despite difficult challenges facing families of today, they must play an active role in the education of teenagers and provide positive examples through their behavior. Christian families are very important to our society and it is necessary that young couples thoroughly understand the Sacrament of marriage.

Joseph Bernardin underlines the importance of an extensive and correct marriage preparation, noting that unhealthy formative circumstances may eventually lead to separation and divorce. Marriage preparation must be realistic about faithfully maintaining the marriage covenant in a changing world. In doing so, the family will grow as a positive and healthy example for modem society and for young people in particular.

Cardinal Bernardin confirms that the family has a central importance in our society as nurturer of new life and transmitter of values. He notes though that the survival of the modern family is in danger based on the high rate of divorce (one marriage out of two ends in a divorce). Not only economic but moral issues, he concludes, play an important role in family problems, which encompass values, attitudes, and mistaken use of personal freedom.