Couples say "we don't" to church weddings

The number of state registry weddings is rising and church weddings are declining in parallel with the rate of religious participation, a Melbourne Christian think tank researcher says.

According to a Melbourne Age report, Dr Phillip Hughes, senior researcher with the Melbourne-based Christian Research Association, says that the "primary factor is increasing numbers of people do not have a church background".

He says that couples "don't necessarily feel comfortable within a church complex, they don't know what's going on and it's not necessarily their way of expressing themselves."

Dr Hughes also told the Age that the lack of flexibility many religious denominations show over certain traditions makes it hard for people to feel comfortable using a minister in their ceremonies.

"Some denominations do not allow their clergy to marry people who have been divorced, and of course a lot of marriages include at least one partner who has been divorced these days," he says.

"There's the sense that some churches are not very happy about marrying people who have been living together prior to the marriage and who already have children, and yet something like 80 per cent of young people live together before they get married."

According to the Age, nearly 10 per cent of all weddings in Victoria took place at the registry office in Spring Street, Melbourne in the year spanning 2005 and 2006.

The number was higher before 1973, when laws were changed to allow civil celebrants to practise outside the registry, but it has been on the rise again since 2000.

The popularity of civil celebrants has also increased, with the number of ceremonies conducted by celebrants now outweighing the number conducted by ministers of religion.

Of the 25,266 Victorian marriages conducted in 2005, 57.5 per cent were performed by a civil celebrant.

Saying 'I do' to the simple way (The Age, 16/1/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
John Paul II Institute
Council for Marriage and the Family (Melbourne)

Pope restates marriage non-negotiables (CathNews, 12/5/06)
Pell sets up office for Marriage and Family (CathNews, 14/2/06)

16 Jan 2007

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