Meetings to update Catholics on marriage amendment process

After two heated constitutional sessions, several proposed marriage amendments, and just weeks away from a third legislative session in which the fate of the Travaglini-Finneran joint amendment that received preliminary approval on March 11 will most likely be decided, the Archdiocese of Boston has launched a second series of Marriage Information Meetings in 13 parishes throughout the archdiocese.

"A lot of people are asking what's going on in the Legislature," said Father Robert Oliver, special assistant to the Moderator of the Curia, who is helping coordinate these meetings.

The meetings, which will run from March 22-25, will attempt to explain what has occurred during the legislative sessions, as well as the Church’s position on the complex issues before the Legislature. Father Oliver also believes they will reinforce the need to contact legislators in order to deliver the message that “people should be given the right to vote, and the two issues — marriage and civil unions — should be split so that people can have clarity in their choices.”

According to Father Oliver, the format of these meetings will be similar to the prior “Defense of Marriage Information Meetings” which took place last month in the 22 vicariates of the archdiocese, in which one clergy member, one lay Catholic — usually a Catholic attorney — and one member of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the Catholic Church in Massachusetts, explained the legal, moral and ethical implications of the Goodridge vs. Department of Public Health ruling.

Organizers intend the meetings to end with an extended question and answer session.

"These meetings, coupled with the first round of meetings, have been undertaken on an unprecedented scale by the archdiocese," commented Kari Colella, coordinator of Marriage Ministries for the Archdiocese of Boston.

Colella praised the dedication of the various lay Catholics who have volunteered to participate in these meetings.

"The generosity of the lay persons is truly wonderful," she said. "The laity is really taking the lead in this issue."