(WHAS11) - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has approved a new marriage document, authored by Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz.
In an exclusive interview from the Bishops meeting in Baltimore Friday, Kurtz tells WHAS11 News that it's not just about the church's opposition to same sex marriage. At the meeting, Kurtz debuted the first edit of a series of videos in which young couples reflect on their understanding of the church's definition of marriage.
"It will be in these vivid ways that I think the message of the uniqueness of marriage as one man and one woman will begin to be conveyed," Kurtz said by phone from Baltimore, "admittedly, within a culture where even people who are very religious and deeply committed to the Catholic Church have an undeveloped understanding."
One of the reports the bishops studied shows that American couples in 2009 are more likely to live together than to marry and the chances of divorce or separation are about even with "until death do us part."
Louisville Catholics interviewed Friday expressed support for the church's teaching, but room for some disagreement.
"Yes. I'm Catholic myself and got married in the Catholic Church and we believe in the faith," Hope Hoskins said, "I would hope that everyone would follow that path. I think that's what you should do. But sometimes things happen and you end up not falling in love with the right person, or they turn out to be somebody different."
Yet, Hoskins adds that "some people jump to divorce too quickly instead of really working on it."
The church's opposition to divorce, cohabitation before marriage and same-sex marriage are explained in the new marriage document.
"We must continue to teach about the other uniqueness about marriage between one man and one woman," Kurtz said while presenting the pastoral letter, "to assist the Lord in opening minds and hearts to the truth about marriage in its relation to every person including homosexual persons and society and ultimately to show that when the truth of marriage wins, no one loses."It is the fundamental institution of life," Kurtz told the assembled bishops, "the irreplaceable place of unique communion between man and woman, a communion ordered to life giving love."
"Marriage is the only institution which by its very nature is designed with the capacity not only to bring forth human life, but also to welcome human life as a gift," Kurtz continued, "The person is always a gift."
Louis Piet of Louisville concurs.
"I disagree with the same sex marriage. How can two people of the same sex get married? Marriage is to have kids. Get married and have kids," Piet said.
Or, in the words of the young couple in the video, "When you think about it, our bodies, every natural process of the body - sleeping, eating, exercise, you can do by ourselves, everything but making love and having children, that depends on our difference. When a husband and wife make love, its body and soul."
"We're not breaking any new ground on our teaching," Kurtz explained, "We began the pastoral initiative by saying we want to take the richness of our teachings of our church and present them in a new and fresh way."
Of church policies on cohabitation before marriage, Janice Barry and her mother-in-law agree on church teaching, but not necessarily on the church' approach, "It's not always the advisable lifestyle," Janice said, "but I think they need to be a little bit more open – open minded about their choices."
"Marriage is sacred," Adale explained, "A union is sacred. It is not about convenience. It's not about entertainment. It's a commitment to two people."
Of homosexuals, Kurtz stressed that the church respects "the dignity and rights of every person,"
But he says that "ought not to be on the back of the definition of marriage."