In an effort to prevent marriage breakups on the rise in recent years leading to increasing social problems, the Catholics for the Common Good Institute has established a partnership with the archdiocesan Office of Justice and Peace.“All kinds of human consequences result from a marriage breakdown,” said Bill May, the nonprofit’s chairman and founder. “This is the reason for our social justice approach.”Jaime Huerta, associate director of the archdiocesan Office of Justice and Peace, said the Church is interested in collaborating with organizations such as CCG in exploring how marriage crisis affects families and how parishes can support them effectively in a way that addresses other issues.“Marriage is a public institution, and it plays an important role in society,” Huerta told The Tidings following a July 27 gathering at Holy Innocents Church in Long Beach to hear May, a father of three adult children, share his experience in “rebuilding the marriage culture.”“Your concerns about marriage crisis are well placed,” May told the audience of more than 60 people, many of them couples. “This is a very significant threat to every single family. People co-habitating and children born out of wedlock is touching every single family, but our hope is in the Holy Spirit and focus on God.”Basing his presentation on the book “Theology of the Body in Context”, authored by moral theologian William E. May (inspired by Blessed John Paul II’s work on the subject), Bill May travels throughout California delivering a message of unity and love based on the Gospel. He encourages parishioners to join Stand with Children, a CCG project that promotes the creation of “faith and action circles” that foster marriage and family, which is viewed as a “unique community for teaching morality.” In the brochure “Don’t Oppose ‘Same-sex Marriage,’ Oppose Redefining Marriage Instead,” CCG proposes a pastoral view of the issue versus a political view. Rather than focusing marriage on homosexuality and the difference between homosexual and heterosexual relationships, CCG suggests centering the conversation on the good of marriage as a public interest.“Everyone is inclined toward sin and is in need of pastoral guidance and private brotherly correction from time to time,” reads the brochure, “but no one wants their behavior criticized in a public forum. Public criticism of the behavior of any particular group of people is an assault on their dignity and invites prejudice and discrimination.”CCG advocates for marriage as “the foundation of the family, the first original cell of society.“We stand with the common interest that every child has in the marriage of his or her mother and father,” and at this point marriage becomes an element of social justice, say members of CCG.“Although marriage doesn’t guarantee there won’t be any problems in the family, it’s been documented that marriage helps sustain a healthier family,” said Samantha Sabarzo, a CCG leader in the San Pedro Pastoral Region. “This could help reduce incarceration rates as well as teen suicides, among other social problems. The idea behind marriage is that a child should grow up with a mom and a dad.”According to the Pew Research Center, nearly four in 10 Americans think “marriage is obsolete.” In 2009, 41 percent of the children in the United States were born out-of-wedlock, most of them starting life with a single parent. Part of the reason, showed the poll, is that most couples live in cohabitation, a trend that has been increasing in the country since 1960. “Marriage is a sacrament, therefore it’s a mystery,” said Peter Nguyen, a 46-year-old father of two boys and catechist at Blessed Sacrament Church in Westminster, who attended May’s talk. “All marriages have ups and downs and it’s about holding on to each other to overcome the hard times. It’s also important to raise the children with faith-based values.” “[Marriage] is a mission,” added his wife Mai. “When I made my vows I promised God to help my husband in leading our children the way God wants.”May stressed the importance of viewing marriage as a human right for every child, who always longs to see his/her father and mother together. “It’s in our relationship with them that we start elaborating in our identity; where we came from is important for us,” he noted. He also provided data showing the correlation between marriage decline and poverty that in many cases leads to abuse and neglect resulting in criminal behavior.He compared a couple’s love and commitment to Jesus’ love and commitment for people, to the point of facing crucifixion with the knowledge that it would give way to happiness, to resurrection.Several in attendance asserted that parish programs regarding marriage must convey Church teaching, particularly to children and youth, in “a language that people can understand.”For more information about Catholics for the Common Good, visit For more on the Stand with Children project, visit{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2011/0826/marriage/{/gallery}