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Moreover, in Part Two, the paper focuses even more narrowly on a segment of cohabiting couples, namely, those who choose to move out of this type of relationship and into the lifelong commitment of marriage.It is this group of engaged couples who pose certain unique pastoral challenges.Now, nearly twelve years after the original work of , the cumulative pastoral experience of ministering to cohabiting couples has broadened and deepened.

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This, in turn, is set within a context of widespread sexual activity outside of marriage.

In this section we provide highlights of what social science has discovered about cohabitation in general and with specific reference to cohabiting couples who eventually marry.

The pastors and the ecclesial community should take care to become acquainted with such situations and their actual causes, case by case.

They should make tactful and respectful contact with the couples concerned and enlighten them patiently, correct them charitably and show them the witness of Christian family life in such a way as to smooth the path for them to regularize their situation" ( , #81).

During this time they can be given the spiritual foundation that helps them to make informed, faith-filled and life-giving choices throughout their lives.

With this foundation, it can be hoped that couples will choose not to cohabit before marriage.

In this present resource paper the NCCB Committee on Marriage and Family builds upon the foundation provided by This paper is neither an official statement of the Committee on Marriage and Family nor of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.

It does not offer formal recommendations for action.

The pastoral approaches outlined in this section emerge from an analysis of these policies, from knowledge of current pastoral practice, and from consultations with pastoral ministers. James Healy, Ph D, Director of the Center for Family Ministry in the Diocese of Joliet, for his assistance with this part of the paper.

Finally, in the course of preparing this report, the Committee on Pastoral Practices and Bishop David E.

They are faced with the dilemma of addressing a situation that is contrary to our moral principles while attempting to validate and sanctify the relationship of the couple through the Sacrament of Marriage (Archdiocese of Miami, We offer the following pastoral suggestions to priests, deacons, and pastoral ministers who prepare couples for marriage.

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