UK bishop announces pastoral support for married couples after Pope's Amoris Laetitia

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Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth introduced new approaches to support married couples in reaction to Pope Francis' "Amoris Laetitia."

In his pastoral letter released Friday, July 8 and announced to the Diocese of Portsmouth on Sunday, July 10, Bishop Egan laid out his plans to arrive at new approaches geared to support married and engaged couples through the four phases of marriage: marriage promotion, marriage preparation, marriage care and marriage "repair."

"Indeed, in the light of Amoris Laetitia, I want us to develop new approaches to getting married," read a statement in his pastoral letter.

For those engaged, Bishop Egan required a minimum of one year notice to provide for ample amount of time for pastors to prepare the couple before marriage. He also reiterated the need to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation ahead of the couple's wedding.

"After all, marriage is a vocation to service like the priesthood, and so just as the priesthood and the promise of celibacy 'for the sake of the Kingdom' needs the help of the Holy Spirit and His gifts, so too does married life," said the bishop.

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia also issued a new set of pastoral guidelines that took effect July 1 wherein he called on divorced and remarried Catholics to abstain from sex and instead to live just as a brother and a sister would.

A senior analyst for the National Catholic Reporter, Rev. Thomas Reese, believes the pontifical document "Amoris Laetitia" also known as "The Joy of Love" released in April, allows bishops to make their own interpretation on the doctrine.

"Somebody in the diocese next door could release a letter that says something totally different," Rev. Reese told the Associated Press.

Although the pope did not make any changes in the Catholic doctrine, Bishop Egan believes the pope aimed to develop a new attitude "to show compassion, to include not exclude, to foster growth and discernment" instead of being "shrill or judgmental."

On the other hand, the Society of St Pius X (SSPX) criticized "a large number of pastors, including the Pope himself" for breeding confusion in erroneous doctrinal teachings.