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4/26/2014 8:26:00 AM
Marriage facing 'vocation crisis' says bishop
Catholic Sentinel photo by Ed Langlois
Bishop Peter Smith instructs fourth graders at Archbishop Howard School.
Catholic Sentinel photo by Ed Langlois
Bishop Peter Smith instructs fourth graders at Archbishop Howard School.
Catholic Sentinel photo by Bob Kerns
At cathedral, Daniel Pouch greets Bishop Smith.
Catholic Sentinel photo by Bob Kerns
At cathedral, Daniel Pouch greets Bishop Smith.
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Archbishop Alexander Sample and Bishop Peter Smith meet at pastoral center.
What is an auxiliary bishop?
An auxiliary bishop is appointed to serve in cooperation with the head of the diocese — but is not necessarily in line to become the next leader.

Auxiliary bishops are appointed to the service of the diocese, not the person of the diocesan bishop and in general are named to dioceses large enough that it requires more than one bishop to administer. They are required by church law to reside in the diocese.  

Canon law holds that auxiliary bishops are, in general, to be vicars general of dioceses, which is the case with Auxiliary Bishop Peter Smith of the Archdiocese of Portland. He oversees many ministries.

Ordination to the Episcopate
Auxiliary Bishop Peter Smith

2 p.m., April 29
St. Mary Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

The new auxiliary bishop of Portland says marriage and family life are facing a "big vocations crisis."

Bishop Peter Smith, a canon lawyer tasked with investigating if troubled marriages really were marriages after all, says the sacrament has been reduced far beyond what Christ intended it to be, and that culture constantly reinforces the reduction.  

"Our culture has a strong narcissistic trend in it and this militates against good marriages and family life," Bishop Smith says. "When we are self absorbed and relate to the world around us primarily with self projection, then it becomes very difficult to live marriage and family life well. By their nature, marriage and family demand giving of ourselves and serving others, making sacrifices and forbearing. In other words, real love."    

He says people are not socialized in how to make relationships work well. Many don't know how to deal with conflict, fully share their lives, work through tough times together and share what they have so everyone benefits.

As a member of the People of Praise, a Christian community that includes many families, the new bishop sees two things that are essential for strong marriages and family life: First, that people live in Christ, "with real faith that is life giving and transforming." Second, that couples and families live intentionally, making conscious choices and sustaining an ongoing commitment.

"If these aren’t part of marriages and family life, the pressures of the world will squeeze them into a different mold, one that often doesn’t have good results," Bishop Smith says. "One of the biggest witnesses Christians can give the world around us is how to live marriage and family life well.  And it will often be quite a contrast to what is happening around us."

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