Title Page
 Table of Contents
 List of Tables
 Statement of problem
 Review of related literature
 Methods and procedures
 Analysis of data
 Summary, discussion, and impli...
 Appendix I: Cover letter
 Appendix II: Summation of returns...
 Appendix III: Topics and speak...
 Appendix IV: Schedule for Pre Cana...
 Appendix V: Background questio...
 Appendix VI: Pre-nuptial quest...
 Appendix VII: Attitude scale
 Appendix VIII: Knowledge test
 Appendix IX: Evaluation form
 Background sketch

Group Title: effects of a Pre Cana Conference
Title: The effects of a Pre Cana Conference
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00098127/00001
 Material Information
Title: The effects of a Pre Cana Conference a Catholic premarriage education experience
Physical Description: xi, 162 leaves : ; 28cm.
Language: English
Creator: Mullin, Patrick Gerard, 1934-
Donor: unknown ( endowment )
Publication Date: 1976
Copyright Date: 1976
Subject: Marriage counseling   ( lcsh )
Marriage -- Catholic Church   ( lcsh )
Family life education   ( lcsh )
Counselor Education thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- Counselor Education -- UF
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis--University of Florida.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 153-160.
Statement of Responsibility: by Patrick Gerard Mullin.
General Note: Typescript.
General Note: Vita.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00098127
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000163672
oclc - 02759937
notis - AAT0029


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Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page i-a
        Page ii
    Table of Contents
        Page iii
        Page iv
    List of Tables
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
    Statement of problem
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
    Review of related literature
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
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        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
    Methods and procedures
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
    Analysis of data
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
    Summary, discussion, and implications
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
    Appendix I: Cover letter
        Page 127
        Page 128
    Appendix II: Summation of returns from five Florida dioceses
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
    Appendix III: Topics and speakers
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
    Appendix IV: Schedule for Pre Cana conference
        Page 137
        Page 138
    Appendix V: Background questionnaire
        Page 139
        Page 140
    Appendix VI: Pre-nuptial questionnaire
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
    Appendix VII: Attitude scale
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
    Appendix VIII: Knowledge test
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
    Appendix IX: Evaluation form
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
    Background sketch
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
Full Text







I 3 1262 0852 7694
3 1262 08552 7694


The writer is indebted to Dr. Larry Loesch, Committee

Chairman, for his invaluable contributions. Dr. Loesch was

long in patience and wise in counsel. He constantly challenged

the candidate in an uplifting manner to reach for goals which

seemed to be unattainable. The other members of the writer's

Supervisory Committee, Dr. Harold Riker and Dr. Felix Berardo

also deserve special recognition for their comments and reac-

tions in helping improve the quality of this dissertation.

The writer wishes to thank Dr. Ted Landsman for encouraging

and supporting the writer's candidacy for this advanced degree.

To Katie Grant, friend and typist, a special thanks, and to

A.P., and the Grant family for allowing her to dedicate so

much of her time. Thanks are due also to Drs. Paul Schauble,

John Newell, and Ed Turner for helping in the initial stages

of this study; Frs. John Gillespie and John McCullen for

helping develop and evaluate the instruments used in this

study; Barbara Rucker for her help in using computers; and

Mike Gannon for giving him a home. Last but not least the

writer wishes to thank those wonderful people who, time and

time again, gave of their wisdom and energy in instructing the

couples who attended the Pre Cana Conferences.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ....................................... ii

LIST OF TABLES ........................................ v

ABSTRACT .............................................. ix

CHAPTER I STATEMENT CF PROBLEM .................... 1
Purpose of the Study .................. 8
Organization of the Study ............. 10
Organization of Remaining Chapters .... 12
Definitions of Terms .................. 12

Pre Cana Conferences .................. 17
Historical Note ..................... 17
Objectives of Pre Cana Conferences .. 20
Screening ........................... 22
Pre Cana Conference Attitudes ....... 24
Sources of Content .................. 27
Pre Cana Conference Research ........ 29
Development of Marriage Education
Courses at College Level .............. 32
Developments in the Areas of
Content and Attitudes ............... 34
Review of Research Results on
Marriage Education ................ 36
Mixed Religion Marriages .............. 43
Attitude of Catholics Toward
Mixed Religion Marriages ............ 43
Reasons for Mixed Religion
Marriages ........................... 47
Mixed Religion Marriages in Florida 49
Mixed Religion Marriages in
Gainesville, Florida .................. 52
Historical Note on Mixed Religion
Marriages ........................... 53

Development of the Pre Cana
Conference ............................ 61
The Panel of Speakers ................. 65
The Participants ...................... 66
Group Assignment of the Participants .. 67
Design of the Study .................. 69
Development of Instruments ........... 70

Knowledge Test ........................ 71
Attitude Scales....................... 71
Validity of the Instruments ........... 74
Field Testing of the Instruments ...... 74
Analysis of Data ...................... 75

CHAPTER IV ANALYSIS OF DATA .......................... 77

Description of the Population ........... 112
Pre-Conference Expectations ............. 113
Summary of Results and Discussion ....... 114
Knowledge Test ........................ 114
Attitude Scale ........................ 115
Correlations Between Attitude Scale
and Knowledge Test Scores and the
Variables of Age and Education ........ 116
Overt and Covert Attitudes ............ 119
Limitations of the Study .............. 122
Evaluation of the Conference .......... 124
Implications and Recommendations
for Further Study ....................... 125

APPENDIX I COVER LETTER ........................... 128

DIOCESES ............................. 150

APPENDIX III TOPICS AND SPEAKERS ................... 135




APPENDIX VII ATTITUDE SCALE ......................... 146

APPENDIX VIII KNOWLEDGE TEST ......................... 149

APPENDIX IX EVALUATION FORM ........................ 152

BIBLIOGRAPHY .......................................... 153

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................... 161

Table Page

1 All Valid Marriages in Florida by Dioceses,
1972-1975 ................................... 51

2 All Valid Marriages in Gainesville by Parish
for the Years 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975........ 52

3 Religion of Participants...................... 78

4 Types of Marriages............................ 79

5 Experimental and Control Groups by Sex,
Religion, and Type of Marriage.............. 80

6 Sex of Catholics and Type of Marriage.......... 81

7 Age and Years of Education by Sex for
Experimental and Control Group.............. 81

8 t test Between the Means of the Experimental
and Control Group for the Attitude Scale
and Knowledge Test..............,*.......... 83

9 Mean Attitude Scale Scores for Experimental
and Control Group on the Basis of Sex....... 84

10 Analysis of Variance Testing Between the
Attitude Scale Means of the Experimental
and Control Group on the Basis of Sex....... 85

11 Mean Knowledge Test Scores for Experimental and
Control Group on the Basis of Sex........... 85

12 Analysis of Variance Between the Knowledge Test
Means of the Experimental and Control Group
on the Basis of Sex.... ................... 86

13 Mean Attitude Scale Scores for Experimental
and Control Group on the Basis of Non-Mixed
and Mixed Religion Marriages................ 87

Table Page

14 Analysis of Variance Between the Attitude
Scale Means of the Experimental and
Control Group on the Basis of Non-Mixed
and Mixed Religion Marriages......... ...... 87

15 Mean Knowledge Scores for Experimental and
Control Group on the Basis of Non-Mixed
or Mixed Religion Marriages.................. 88

16 Analysis of Variance Between the Knowledge
Score Means of the Experimental and
Control Group on the Basis of Non-Mixed
or Mixed Religion Marriages.................. 89

17 Voluntary and Involuntary Attendance at the
Pre Cana Conferences........................ 90

18 Voluntary and Involuntary Attendance on the
Basis of Religion........................... 90

19 Mean Attitude Scale Scores for Experimental and
Control Group on the Basis of Voluntary or
Involuntary Attendance........................ 91

20 Analysis of Variance Between the Attitude Scale
Means of the Experimental and Control Group
on the Basis of Voluntary or Involuntary
Attendance.......................,..9,.... 92

21 Mean Knowledge Test Scores for Experimental
and Control Group on the Basis of Voluntary
or Involuntary Attendance.................... 95

22 Analysis of Variance Between the Knowledge Test
Means of the Experimental and Control Group
on the Basis of Voluntary or Involuntary
Attendance..................... ..0 ...... 94

23 Previous Marriage and Sex Education by Group.... 95

24 Previous Marriage and Sex Education by Group
and Religion ................................ 96

25 Mean Attitude Scale Scores for Experimental
and Control Group on the Basis of Previous
Marriage Education......................... 96

26 Analysis of Variance Between the Attitude Scale
Means of the Experimental and Control Group
on the Basis of Previous Marriage
Education............................... .... 97

Table Page

27 Mean Knowledge Test Scores for Experimental
and Control Group on the Basis of Previous
Marriage Education......................... 98

28 Analysis of Variance Between the Knowledge Score
Means of the Experimental and Control Group
on the Basis of Previous Marriage
Education.................................... 98

29 Mean Attitude Scale Scores for Experimental
and Control Group on the Basis of
Previous Sex Education. ..................... 99

30 Analysis of Variance Between the Attitude Scale
Means of the Experimental and Control Group
on the Basis of Previous Sex Education....... 100

31 Mean Knowledge Test Scores for Experimental
and Control Group on the Basis of Previous
Sex Education........... .................. 101

32 Analysis of Variance Between the Knowledge Test
Means of the Experimental and Control Group
on the Basis of Previous Sex Education....... 101

33 Church Attendance by Sex, Religion, and Type
of Marriage.................................. 103

34 Mean Scores on Attitude Scale by Frequency of
Church Attendance for Experimental and
Control Group....... ......... ............ 104

35 Factorial Analysis of Variance Between the
Attitude Scale Means of the Experimental
and Control Group and the Rate of Church
Attendance....................... ...... ..... 105

36 Mean Scores on Knowledge Test by Frequency of
Church Attendance for Experimental and
Control Group................................ 106

37 Factorial Analysis of Variance Between the
Knowledge Test Means of the Experimental
and Control Group and the Rate of Church
Attendance................................... 107

38 Catholic Education.............................. 108

39 Correlations Between Scores on the Attitude
Scale and the Knowledge Test and Age and
Years of Education for the Experimental,
Control, and Total Group................... 109

40 Responses to Statement Ten on the Attitude
Scale............ .... ................ 121

41 Observations and Recommendations of the
Participants................. ........... 124




Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council of
the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Patrick Gerard Mullin

August, 1976

Chairman: Larry C. Loesch
Major Department: Counselor Education

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of

a Pre Cana Conference, a premarriage education program offered

by the Catholic Church for couples intending to marry in Church.

Premarriage instruction is required and the Church most often

uses these conferences as a vehicle for group instructions.

The investigator isolated and analyzed some aspects of one

of these conferences, a Pre Cana Conference held at the Catholic

Student Center at the University of Florida, Gainesville,

Florida. This conference represented what was most commonly

offered in premarriage education programs by the Catholic Church

in Florida. Instruments were developed to measure the effects

of the conference on the attitudes and knowledge of the par-

ticipants. Data on selected background variables were gathered

to determine if they might affect outcomes. All data were

gathered anonymously.

The 74 participants, 51 Catholics and 23 non-Catholics,

were randomly assigned to two groups, 38 to the experimental

group, and 36 to the control group. The design of the study

was a posttest design only. Two conferences were held on con-

secutive weekends. The experimental group was assessed after

participation in the first conference. The control group was

assessed at the same time but prior to participation in the

second conference. The groups were not allowed to interact

between their respective assessments.

A t test showed no significant differences between the

mean scores of the groups on the attitude scale. Analyses of

variance showed significant differences within the groups. The

attitude scale scores of those who attended voluntarily, had

previously had sex education, and attended church more fre-

quently were higher. Therefore they tended to be more orthodox

than those who attended involuntarily, who did not have sex edu-

cation prior to the conference, and who attended church less

frequently. The conference apparently was successful in raising

the level of orthodoxy among some of, the subjects, since there

were also significant differences between the means of the

groups on the variables of voluntary or involuntary attendance,

and sex education. The scores for the experimental group were

higher in each case. There was no significant difference on

the rate of church attendance. While the means were not sig-

nificantly different, females, and those who previously had

marriage education, or who were entering non-mixed religion

marriages, tended to be more orthodox than males, those who

did not have marriage .education, and those who were entering

mixed marriages.

A t test showed a significant difference between the mean

scores of the group on the knowledge test. This was also the

case in all the analyses of variance irrespective of background

variables. The mean scores of the experimental group were

higher than those of the control group, thereby indicating

that the former group acquired knowledge or information as a

result of the conference.

There were no significant differences between the means

within the groups. When compared to the significant variations

on the attitude scale scores, there appeared to be some indica-

tions that the relations between cognitive achievement and

attitudes were statistically independent, and too low to

effectively predict one response based upon another.

From correlations made between the mean scores on the

instruments and the variables of age and years of education

it appeared that the older and more educated participants

were more knowledgeable and less orthodox.


There are a number of particularly urgent needs character-
izing the present age, needs which go to the roots of the
human race. To a consideration of these in the light of
the Gospel and of human experience, the Council would now
direct the attention of all. Of the many subjects arousing
universal concern today, it may be helpful to concentrate
on these; marriage and the family, human culture, life in
its economic, social, and political dimensions, the bonds
between the family of nations, and peace.
Vatican Council II (Abbott, 1966, p. 248)

The Vatican Council puts marriage and the family at the top

of its list of present concerns and then proceeds to outline the

factors which cause this concern: Divorce, "free love," serious

family disturbances caused by modern economic conditions,

influences at once social and psychological, and the demands by

civil society. To counteract these negative trends, or at least

fortify Catholics against them, the Vatican Council stresses the

need for Catholic priests to organize church related programs of

instruction to foster conjugal and family life.

The Catholic Church believes that the well being of the

individual person and of human and Christian society is inti-

mately linked with the healthy condition of the community pro-

duced by marriage and the family. With the increasing divorce

rate, Catholic Church leaders have become quite concerned and

have been actively seeking "remedies." During the 12-month


period ending in August 1974, the estimated number of divorces

in the United States was 948,000, an increase of 56,000 above

the level of the preceding 12 months (Glick, 1975). There were

65.8 divorces for every 100 marriages performed in Florida in

1974 (Florida Statistical Abstracts, 1975). The Conference of

Catholic Bishops estimates that there are currently about five

million divorced Catholics in the United States. Divorce in

the Catholic population brings with it extra problems. Unless

a previous marriage is annulled, Catholics cannot remarry in the

Church. Seeking an annulment requires a long and often emotion-

ally painful process with no guarantee of a favorable outcome.

Few annulments are ever granted by the Church. There has there-

fore been a strong emphasis on premarital education, marriage

encounter groups or enrichment groups, centers for counseling

families with marriage problems, and more recently, counseling

for formerly married Catholics.

The concern of the Catholic Church has not been a recent

development. The 19th ecumenical council, the Council of Trent

(1545-1563), established the canonical basis for the internal

reform of the Church by revamping or discarding codes of law

that existed since the early Church. This council established

exact norms for the form of marriage, that it should be solem-

nized before the pastor and two witnesses, and an entry of the

marriage made in the ecclesiastical register. The pastor was

bound to obtain the consent of the bridal couple, and therefore

had to play an active rather than passive role in the marriage

process. Between this time and the publication of the Codex

Juris Canonici (the Code of Canon Law) the pastor dealt mainly

with the legal aspects of marriage. The code became effective

in 1918, and Canon 1033 of this code states:

The pastor must not omit, with due regard to the
conditions of the persons concerned, to instruct the
parties on the sanctity of Matrimony, their mutual
obligations, the obligations of parents toward
children, etc. (Siegle, 1973, p. 66)

This code is part of the universal law of the Church and

is binding in conscience on all pastors. The statutes of most

dioceses in the United States and Canada also formally prescribe

marriage instructions (Riker, 1966). The nature and implementa-

tion of these instructions and whether they meet the expectations

of the Church and the individual getting married is subject to

much speculation. Over the years, and especially since the

publication of the papal encyclicals "Christian Marriage," and

"Christian Education of Youth" in the early 1930s, there has

been a growing movement to organize instructions at a group

level. In response to these encyclicals and the growing concern

for the health of family life, the Cana movement was founded in

1944, and soon thereafter, the Pre Cana Conferences.

Most of the literature on Pre Cana Conferences over the

past 25 years, indicates that there has been considerable

changing of position with regard to objectives, format of the

programs, methods of presentation, and content. This has been

due not only to the birth pangs any new movement undergoes,

but also to changes within the Catholic Church itself and its

attitudes toward marriage.

The climate of openness created by Vatican Council II and

the receptivity to insights gained from the fields of medicine,

sociology, psychology, philosophy, and theology, accelerated the

recognition that marriage has multi-dimensional aspects which

need to be dealt with. Consequently there has been a shift in

emphasis away from the legalistic and institutional dimensions

and toward the pastoral; and also a recognition that the insti-

tution of marriage was "created" for man and not vice versa.

It is expected that the Code of Canon Law, which is presently

being revised, will undergo some radical changes. As it stands

now "marriage" is dealt with in the book on "things" rather than

in the book on "persons." This view appears to be changing


The deeper appreciation of the human person has
also modified the Catholic understanding of marriage.
We do not like to think of marriage as a divine
institution for the perpetuation of the human race;
we prefer to regard it as a divinely instituted
covenant of love between two persons who have
chosen to belong to one another and together
serve the human race. (Baum, 1966, Foreword)

Palmer (1972), who has been engaged in research and teaching

in the field of marriage for 30 years states:

It may come as a surprise that the fathers of
Vatican II never use the word "contract" in discussing
Christian Marriage. Instead, Christian marriage is
"rooted in the conjugal covenant of irrevocable consent."
. This may explain why the fathers of Vatican II in
their more pastoral approach to the "Church in the
Modern World" avoided the legal expression "contract"
in favor of "covenant." (pp. 617-18)

These are significant statements because they have been

reflected in the changes made in marriage and family education

in the Catholic Church. However, the Church is slow in changing.

In the earlier marriage education courses offered at secular

institutions for higher learning, there was an emphasis on the

institutional or academic view. However, the courses quickly

became more functional in orientation to meet the immediate or

anticipated needs of the students. The Pre Cana Conferences

underwent a similar development at a more staggered rate and

lagged behind by many years. An almost complete lack of research

on the conferences may have accounted in large part for this lag.

Though the conferences have undergone changes they still retain

a strong institutional bias which is in keeping with their pur-

pose, but which may be resented by couples who have to attend


Attendance at Pre Cana Conferences is required by many

dioceses for couples planning marriage in the Catholic Church.

This requirement also holds in the case of mixed religion

marriages. Almost two-thirds of the marriages at the Catholic

Student Center in Gainesville, Florida, and in the diocese of

St. Augustine as a whole, are mixed religion marriages. In two

pilot studies at the Catholic Student Center in November 1975,

and March 1976, those about to attend Pre Cana Conferences were

asked, "Would you as an individual attend the conferences if

not required by the Church?" Nearly 50 percent replied in the

negative and most of those were non-Catholic. The responses

from several diocesan family life directors in Florida indicated

that a negative attitude is quite common, and thus lend support

to the contention that this is a problem that has to be reckoned

with in offering these conferences.

Negative attitudes may be attributed to any one or a com-

bination of several factors. Couples hard pressed for time be-

cause of academic studies or wedding preparations may consider

the conferences an unwanted extra. Some may already have had

courses in marriage and the family and sex education and there-

fore consider the conferences redundant. Some may have negative

attitudes toward authority and consider this just one more

imposition by an institution. Winfrey (1976) observed that

minor-aged couples who arrive for mandatory premarriage coun-

seling are usually belligerent and expect some kind of tradi-

tional lecture on "love, honor, and obey." Some may have a

negative attitude toward the Catholic Church itself and expect

to be put through some form of indoctrination. This may be just

as common among Catholics as among non-Catholics. There may be

very good reasons for the latter to harbor negative attitudes as

the question of mixed religion marriages has in the past, and

still does, arouse strong feelings of antipathy, if not appre-


Recent and widely publicized statements by Pope Paul VI

on birth control, sexual ethics (1976), and the bond of marriage

(1976) have all met with some negative responses both within

the Church and without. All three areas of human conduct

are of immediate concern to engaged couples. The thinking and

practice of many Americans has been rather dramatically con-

fronted by the Pope and therefore may affect the attitudes of

some couples who may view the conferences as a subtle form of

indoctrination, or a last ditch stance on the part of the Catho-

lic Church to reeducate them morally. The emphasis on the

negative does not detract from the fact that other couples

who attend may be quite orthodox, and are more concerned with

learning about Christian marriage and each other than with

detecting some form of covert indoctrination.

Pre Cana Conferences as an educational service are part of

the pastoral care programs offered in parishes. They provide

present and anticipatory guidance for engaged couples. The

thrust of this guidance is more inductive than eductive (Clebsch

& Jaekle, 1942). The conferences are not expected to answer the

many problems facing engaged couples. They do, however, provide

an opportunity for the engaged to explore their own relationship

and their relationship with significant others. Should couples

or individuals have difficulties around religion, with an in-

adequate philosophy of life, or in their relationships with each

other or with significant others, they have a right to expect

mature guidance from their pastors or counselors, whether it be

in group guidance or in individual counseling (Rutledge, 1966).

If effective Pre Cana Conferences are to be developed by

the Catholic Church, the educational foundations of these pre-

marriage education courses must depend on more than speculation

about some of their facets. If hoped-for objectives are not

achieved because of negative attitudes on the part of partici-

pants, then research is needed to uncover these attitudes and

to pinpoint and assess the possible effects these attitudes

may have on the educational process, and the impact the process

may have on attitudes.

Nearly 400,000 marriages are performed in the Catholic

Church annually (Official Catholic Directory, 1972, 73, 74, 75).

Many of the couples entering these marriages attend Pre Cana

Conferences or ones similar to them but bearing a different

name. These group instructions are offered all over the United

States as a vehicle for instructing couples and must consume

hundreds of thousands of man hours each year. Little or no

research has been done on them, nor do there seem to be plans

to subject them to any kind of systematic research. It is

hoped that this study will be of benefit to all concerned with

Pre Cana Conferences and premarriage education in general.

The Conferences, at their worst, may be considered only a

token gesture in meeting the needs of the Church and the couples.

At their best they represent probably the most significant effort

mounted by a mainstream Christian church of the modern era to

grapple with the complexities of Christian marriage. Honesty

and integrity require that we recognize that the conferences

seldom realize all their promises.

Purpose of the Study

The researcher has been attempting over the past three and

a half years to develop an adequate, functional, premarriage

education course, or Pre Cana Conference as it is commonly

called, in the Catholic Church. During that period he has

changed the format, content, speakers, and emphases several

times. As part of this ongoing process, a functional confer-

ence, one that best represented the most commonly presented

programs in the five Catholic Dioceses of the State of Florida

was developed. This conference was presented in mid-May 1976,

at the Catholic.Student Center in Gainesville, Florida. The

purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of this Pre

Cana Conference. It is hoped that this study will generate

initial data and provide instruments for measuring the effec-

tiveness of similar conferences. The content of this confer-

ence may be considered reasonably universal since it is quite

similar to the content provided by the National Marriage Pre-

paration Committee (1973), and may therefore allow comparisons

with other programs which use this material. It is also hoped

that an evaluation of current attitudes toward Catholic Church

authority, marriage, and birth control may lead to a better

understanding of couples entering marriage in the mid 1970s,

and help those planning premarriage education programs to search

for or consider new directions should they feel that current

programs are not meeting the needs of these couples.

Duvall (1965) stated that the objectives of marriage educa-

tion are usually stated in terms of knowledge, attitudes, compe-

tence, and values. To deal with all four objectives, however

relevant they may be, would be beyond the scope of a study such

as this. An analysis therefore was made of these Pre Cana

Conferences, in selected areas of concern, namely, knowledge

and attitudes. Individuals and couples who attend these confer-

ences bring with them varying degrees of knowledge and attitudes,

depending in large part on their background. An attempt was

made to analyze how these two facets of human behavior and

selected variables from their backgrounds affected each other

as a result of participating in the Pre Cana Conference. An

attempt was also made to discover discrepancies between overt

and covert attitudes.

Organization of the Study

This study was part of an ongoing process of developing a

Pre Cana program at the Catholic Student Center in Gainesville,

Florida. As part of that process, inquiries were made to ascer-

tain the customary or most common approach in giving these

conferences, the time schedules, time blocks, content areas,

and the use made of outside speakers, in the five Catholic

Dioceses of Florida. Three competent judges were used to

assess the most common elements and draw up a consensus from

the poolings. From this consensus, and a gleaning of relevant

and helpful literature, a premarriage program was developed.

This program had elements common to most courses offered

in premarriage education. The thrust of this program, however,

because of its peculiar setting and purpose, was on Christian

marriage. Unlike college level premarriage, or marriage and

the family courses, the Pre Cana Conferences are offered only

once a quarter, extend for a three-evening weekend, and last

for a total of only eight or nine hours. This rather short

program, if anything, erred on the generous side when compared

to most of the other conferences offered in Florida,since it

offered more sessions.

The content of each session of the conference was of neces-

sity limited. Many of the topics included in extended courses

could not be included in this conference and were excised by

the judges. From a consensus made of the most commonly offered

topics and their presentation by outside speakers, the following

panel of speakers presented the content areas considered essen-

tial: two priests, Christian marriage; an M.D., gynecology; a

professor of marketing and his wife, the financial aspect; a

married couple, mixed religion marriages; a married couple,

communications; an attorney, the legal dimension; an M.D. and

his wife, the psychosexual aspects. All the speakers were

familiarized with the content areas as outlined by the three


Instruments were developed to evaluate the areas of concern

outlined in the statement of the problem. One instrument mea-

sured the effectiveness of the conference in imparting knowledge.

The other assessed the impact of the conference on selected

attitudes of the participants.

The design of this study was a posttest design only. The

participants, those who intended to marry in the Catholic Church,

were randomly assigned to one of two groups. The experimental

group attended the first of two Fre Cana Conferences which were

offered on two successive weekends. The experimental group was

assessed after participation in the first Pre Cana Conference.

The control group was assessed at the same time but prior to

participation in the second Pre Cana Conference. The groups

were not allowed to interact between their respective assess-

ments. The data provided by these instruments and selected

variables from the participants' backgrounds were then analyzed.

Organization of Remaining Chapters

The remainder of this study is organized into four addi-

tional chapters. Chapter II, which reviews the literature, is

divided into three sections. These sections deal with Pre Cana

Conferences, developments in secular premarriage education, and

mixed religion marriages. Chapter III contains the methods,

procedures, and design of the study. The research findings are

presented in Chapter IV. Chapter V includes a summary of the

study, a discussion of the results, and recommendations for

further study.

Definitions of Terms

Attitude. A relatively stable and enduring predisposition

to behave or react in a certain way toward persons, objects,

institutions, or issues (Chaplin, 1968, p. 42).

Attitude scale. A device for measuring the degree or

strength of attitudes or opinions (Chaplin, 1968, p. 42).

Bishop. The supreme ecclesiastical ruler of a diocese.

Canon law. The body or corpus of regulating norms, enacted

and promulgated by ecclesiastical authority for orderly adminis-

tration and government of the Church. The Code of Canon Law,

now in force in the Roman Church has been in effect since 1918.

It consists of 2,414 canons which are divided into five books

covering general rules, ecclesiastical persons, sacred things,

trials, crimes, and punishment. The code is now under review

for the purpose of revision (Foy, 1973, p. 350).

Constitution: Apostolic or papal. (a) A document in

which the pope enacts and promulgates law; (b) A formal and

solemn document issued by an ecumenical council on a doctrinal

or pastoral subject with binding force in the whole world (Foy,

1973, P. 355).

Council, ecumenical: (Vatican Council II). The constitu-

tion describes an ecumenical council as the solemn exercise of

the full, supreme, and universal power of the episcopal (bishops)

college. The term ecumenical is here synonymous with universal;

it means a council that represents the whole Church and that has

full power over it (New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, p. 376).

Decree. An edict or ordinance issued by a pope and/or

by an ecumenical council, with binding force in the whole

Church; by a territorial body of bishops, or bishop, with

binding force for persons in the area (Foy, 1973, p. 356).

Diocese. The territory governed by a bishop.

Dispensation. The relaxation of a law in a particular case

where sufficient reasons are present, dispensations may be

granted by bishops, for example in the case of mixed religion

marriages (Foy, 1973, p. 357).

Dogmatic theology. The science of Christian doctrine; the

systematic presentation of the faith, establishing the Church

as the depository of revealed truth, setting out the relations

between faith and reason and between religion and philosophy

(Attwater, 1961, p. 491).

Encyclical. A public letter addressed by a pope or council

to all Christendom or to a specific audience (Bouyer, 1963,

P. 139).

Holy See. The pope himself and/or the various officials

and bodies of the Church's central administration at Vatican

City the Roman Curia which act in the name and by authority

of the pope (Foy, 1973, p. 363).

Knowledge (achievement) test. A measure of the degree to

which a person has attained objectives of instruction or.

education (Remmers, 1965, p. 370).

Liturgy. The public prayers of the Church taken as a

whole, together with the sacramental celebration that is

inseparable from it (Bouyer, 1963, p. 277).

Marriage indissolubility. A consummated sacramental

marriage can be dissolved only by death (Attwater, 1961,

p. 308).

Mixed religion marriage. In general it can mean (a) a

marriage between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic person;

or (b) a marriage between a Catholic and a non-baptized person

(Siegle, 1973, p. 100).

Moral theology. That branch of theology which states and

explains the laws of human conduct in reference to man's super-

natural destiny (Davis, 1958, p. 1).

Pastor (priest). An ordained minister charged with respon-

sibility for the doctrinal, sacramental and related service of

people committed to his care (Foy, 1973, p. 372).

Pastoral theology. That branch of theology which deals

with the care of souls. It takes the teaching of dogmatic,

moral and ascetical theology and the rules of canon law and

applies them to the everyday work of parochial clergy in all

its aspects (Attwater, 1961, p. 492).

Pope. The official title given to the Bishop of Rome in

his capacity as supreme head on earth of the Catholic Church

(Rahner, & Vorgrimler, 1965, p. 562).

Pre Cana conferences. Premarriage education courses

offered by the Catholic Church to engaged couples who intend

to marry in that Church. The courses offer useful information

and help couples analyze their values and attitudes while pre-

paring for Christian marriage. The task of Pre Cana is

essentially one of education (Collis, 1973, p. 9).

Sacrament. A sacred sensible sign instituted by Christ

in perpetuity to signify grace and to confer that grace on the

soul of the recipient. There are seven sacraments, of which

matrimony is one (Attwater, 1961, p. 492).

Sacristy. A utility room where vestments, church furnish-

ings, and sacred vessels are kept and where the clergy vest for

sacred functions (Foy, 1975, p. 377).


Secular. Of or belonging to the world and worldly things

as distinguished from the church and religious affairs (Webster's

New World Dictionary, 1968, p. 1318).

Theology. Knowledge of God and religion, derived from and

based on the data of divine revelation, organized and systema-

tized according to some kind of scientific method. It involves

systematic study and presentation of the truths of divine

revelation in sacred scripture, tradition, and Church

teaching (Foy, 1973, p. 383).


Pre Cana Conferences

Historical Note

In 1930, the encyclicals, "Christian Marriage," and "Chris-

tian Education of Youth," were issued by Pope Pius XI. The pope

appealed to people in the Christian world to use every means to

restore the Christian family. He also appealed for strong

leadership and positive social action to counteract trends in

civilization that were inimical to family life. In response to

these encyclicals, the National Catholic Welfare Conference

founded the Family Life Bureau in 1931. Fr. Edgar Schmiedeler

became the first director and served in that capacity for 25

years (Brown, 1964). The following were some of the Bureau's

stated major activities or goals:

1. The teaching of correct principles and ideals of
marriage and the family.

2. Promotion of a Christian parent education program.

3. Revival of spiritual practices within the family
circle with emphasis on the spiritual aspects of

4. Preparing young folks for marriage.

5. Inspiring youth with a high regard for sex and
the virtue of chastity.

6. Encouragement of common family interests in the home.

7. Urging the correction of economic and moral evils
harmful to family life.

8. Emphasizing the father's role in the family (as head
of the family).

9. Development of leaders in the field of marriage and
parent education (Cavanagh, 1966).

Two other movements also developed with the intention of

improving the condition of marriage and family living. The

Christian Family Movement had its origin in 1942 when lay

Catholics met in Chicago to discuss what could be done in

practical ways to help the Christian family. The first conven-

tion was held in 1949 in Wheeling, Illinois. It was decided

that Christian families should be organized along parish lines.

By 1956 the movement had spread all over the U.S. and to many

countries around the world. The movement became quite active

in helping the Cana Movement, the second of these movements,

in its infancy.

Prior to 1944, retreats for married couples were normally

held in churches or retreat houses and heavily emphasized the

spiritual aspect of marriage. Fr. Edward Dowling (1898-1960)

was one of the priests who gave leadership to these retreats.

He attempted to integrate the spiritual with the more mundane

aspects of married life, and interpret married life in the light

of current expectations and demands from both within and without

the family. He held retreats in St. Louis in 1944 and called

them Cana Conferences in honor of Our Lady of Cana. Cana was

the town where Jesus and Mary attended a wedding and Jesus, on

Mary's request, changed water into wine (John 2. 1-11). The

conferences were informal and relaxing and were held in halls

rather than in churches (New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967).

As the movement grew, family life directors were appointed

to help in its growth. The first institute for Cana Conference

directors was held in 1947 at the Catholic University of America

in Washington. Meanwhile the movement was spreading and expand-

ing to meet the needs of engaged couples. These conferences

became known as Pre Cana Conferences. Pre Cana Conferences were

started in Chicago in 1946 and by 1953, 28,248 engaged couples

had already attended them. Cavanagh (1966) gave some insight

into the objectives and workings of these conferences in the

early 1960s in Washington, D.C.

Their purpose is to prepare couples better for the
sacred and serious obligations of married life. Priests
and couples who have made a study of the needs of
newlyweds share their knowledge with couples who are
to be married within the next six months.
Here again the couple program is emphasized. In
a city like Washington, it cannot always be carried
out; but, whenever possible, it is insisted upon.
Pre-Cana series are held about ten times a year in
the city and at least once in the outlying counties.
In the city they are conducted in the evening and
generally are held one evening a week for three weeks.
Two topics of about one hour each are presented each
evening. They are held in a central place and begin
promptly at eight o'clock. The first evening, the
meaning of Christian marriage and Christian love is
given by a priest. This is followed by a talk on
money for newlyweds. Generally an experienced layman
gives this lecture. Questions are invited after each
speaker finishes. The second evening a husband and
wife team talk on marriage adjustments in the early
days of marriage and the first child. For the second
talk the young men and women are separated. A Catholic
woman doctor speaks to the women on the psychology and

physiology of marriage. The third evening two priests
again conduct the conference. The talk at eight .o'clock
is on morality of all acts of husbands and wife. At
nine marriage as a vocation, the sacramental grace of
marriage, etc., are discussed. (pp. 482-483)

In 1970, family life directors of dioceses throughout the

U.S. responded to a year-long effort to update and revitalize

the Pre Cana program. As a result, 57 representatives of

diocesan Pre Cana efforts met in New Orleans, and committees

were established to formulate position papers on recruiting and

training; mixed marriage; specialized programs; audio-visual

aids; content; theology; psychology; doctors; and the role of

Pre Cana. In 1972 a National Marriage Preparation Committee

was formed with the two-fold objective of gathering the best ma-

terial in order to assist organized marriage preparation courses,

and also assist parish priests in renewing their role (Arico,

1973). This committee produced by far the best material on

content, methods, techniques, and annotated bibliographies of

printed and audio-visual materials for Pre Cana Conferences.

Objectives of Pre Cana Conferences

The objectives of the conferences were best expressed per-

haps in the definition offered by Collis (1973).

Pre Cana is a process to assist couples in an analysis
of their values and attitudes as they prepare for
marriage in light of the Gospel message. Pre Cana
is not merely a lecture on Christian marriage. It
must be an experience-centered learning process in
which the individual couple listen, communicate with
each other and other married couples, manifest their
own feeling about marriage, and through a process of
dialogue internalize certain basic concepts on Christian
marriage. The purpose of Pre.Cana (that the concepts
learned and developed become a part of the couple) will
then be accomplished. Pre Cana should be a multi-faceted
experience, appealing to the engaged couple's intellectual

and emotional faculties, and to their shared value system.
The involvement and interchange of ideas between the
couple and with other married couples is as important
as the content that is presented. (p. 8)

Pre Cana Conferences are essentially a learning experience.

An attempt is made to present a realistic view of married life

with its difficulties and its joys and to get the couple to ask

the right questions about themselves, their relationship, and

perhaps their suitability to married life.

Pre Cana Conferences, no matter how well presented, are

considered to be inadequate in meeting the needs of engaged

couples. Individuals or couples should meet with the pastor

for further sessions to discuss personal problems and plans.

The marriage preparation guidelines for the dioceses of New

Jersey are quite emphatic about this. These guidelines state

that it is mandatory for engaged couples to have six sessions,

three formational and three instructional. The instructional

sessions present the essential human and Christian aspects of

marriage so that the couples will be more fully aware of the

totality of the marriage covenant. The priest has the option

of giving private instructions, using the Pre Cana Conferences,

or some familiar method. The Pre Cana Conferences, if well

organized, are specifically endorsed because they are considered

critical in helping the engaged. If a couple is unable to

attend the conferences, the priest has the responsibility for

presenting the materials concerning communication, sexuality,

family life, and sacramentality in three additional sessions,

i.e., over and above the three individualized formational

sessions (Corr, 1975). In several dioceses in Florida, Pre

Cana Conferences are mandatory whenever possible. In actual

practice, apart from filling out individual pre-nuptial ques-

tionnaires or testimonies with the couples, many priests are

satisfied to let the conferences take care of the required pre-

marriage instructions.

Pre Cana Conferences are a facet of pastoral care in that

they provide present and anticipatory guidance with the purpose

of helping engaged couples prepare for marriage. Clebsch and

Jaekle (1942) stated that guidance commonly employs two identi-

fiable modes: eductive guidance and inductive guidance. Educ-

tive guidance tends to draw out of the individual's own experi-

ence and values the criterion and resources for decisions.

Inductive guidance tends to lead the individual to adopt an a

priori set of values and criteria by which to make his decision.

The Catholic Church, looks on the conferences as a form of induc-

tive guidance by offering its theological and moral stance as

a requisite for a successful marriage at least for Catholics.

Clemens (1964) writes, "For true success, it is imperative that

the partners both adjust to marriage itself, as conceived in

the Divine Plan. It is folly to speak of success in marriage

when, for instance, a couple mutually agree to use contracep-

tives or to cease the practice of their religion" (p. 150).


Little attempt seems to be made to screen individuals or

couples attending the conferences. Many of the couples who

attend are walk-ins. If there is any screening prior to the

conferences it is usually in reference to Canon Law requirements,

and there are many of them. Each diocese has forms which are

filled out, under oath, in the presence of a priest. Each

individual, in private, is asked anywhere from twenty to thirty

questions: age; residence; names of parents, their religion;

occupation; date and place of baptism and confirmation; marital

status, present and past; length of engagement; relationships

of consanguinity or affinity; attitude of parents towards the

marriage; freedom from coercion; and intentions or attitudes

regarding fidelity, procreation, and the permanence of marriage.

Two witnesses are also required to offer testimony regarding the

freedom of each partner in the couple to marry. This is cer-

tainly a formidable screening process, and one that indicates

that the Catholic Church looks on marriage as a very serious

step. However, of the 25 questions contained in the Diocese of

St. Augustine questionnaire, only one inquires about the psycho-

logical or emotional health of the individual. Question 21 (See

Appendix VI) asks, "Have you ever suffered a breakdown, or have

you ever been treated in a hospital or by a doctor for mental or

nervous illness? . (If so, a recent statement of the doctor

should be presented concerning condition of patient for entering

marriage)." If a priest does not have any training in marriage

education or counseling a negative answer to Question 21 may

satisfy him. Sometimes even these questionnaires are not filled

out before the conferences, so there may be no way of knowing

the mental or emotional state of the couples unless some gross

overt behavior indicates instability. Further investigation

and/or referral would then be in order.

Pre Cana Conference Attitudes

The objectives of the Pre Cana Conferences bring up the

question of ethics and values and therefore the debate on this

question that was carried on among marriage educators in the

1950s is relevant. Because of the different religious back-

grounds of those attending, the thrust of the conferences may

affect attitudes in either direction. Chaplin (1968) defined

attitude as:

A relatively stable and enduring predisposition to
behave or react in a certain way toward persons,
objects, institutions, or issues. Looked at from
a slightly different point of view, attitudes are
tendencies to respond to people, institutions, or
events either positively or negatively. The sources
of attitudes are cultural, familial and personal. (p. 42)

Bowman (1957) gave four classifications for the imparting

or influencing methods employed to the subject matter involved

and to the objective to be reached. His first two categories,

brainwashing and propaganda, by their definition need not be

considered. His third category, indoctrination,

implies acceptance of a point of view, belief, attitude,
or type of behavior with little if any consideration of
alternatives and with freedom of choice limited, not so
much by the ulterior motives of the indoctrinator as
by the indoctrinator's conviction that what he is
disseminating is for the welfare of the indoctrinee
and/or the group to which he belongs. (p. 325)

One of the objectives of the conferences is to present the view-

point of the Catholic Church on marriage and the family, and

therefore, the thrust of the conferences is in the direction of

indoctrination. Bowman's fourth category, the one he claimed

should best represent the teaching of marriage courses, deals

with the teaching of ethical values which rest on a cultural

framework against which individual behavior must occur and be

evaluated. This latter category seems to be at variance with

the position of the Catholic Church which goes beyond particular

cultural frameworks in establishing its moral code. Because it

is at variance with the cultural framework of the U.S., it may

not be accepted and therefore evoke negative attitudes. The

two positions are not totally irreconcilable. A basic principle

of the Catholic Church states that the ultimate criterion of all

morality is the individual conscience, one that honestly tries

to weigh the pros and cons of whatever is at issue. Once a

decision is made, one is bound to follow that decision even

though it may be contrary to Church teaching. This principle

is stated during the opening session of the Pre Cana Conferences

at the Catholic Student Center. Whether it has any impact or

not is unknown.

In producing a balanced program Riker and Doherty (1966)

pointed out that there is one obvious pitfall that should be

avoided. That is, using marriage instructions as an excuse to

teach religion instead of marriage. If the teachers have a

limited knowledge of the field they are presenting, once they

have delivered themselves of a few heavy cliches about marriage,

they realize that their depth has been reached and they natu-

rally escape into religion. And the captive audience sits and

grows frustrated. This frustration may be caused by the speaker

or by developments in Church teaching in recent years.

The encyclical Humanae Vitae (1968) reaffirmed the absolute

ban on artificial contraception, and was in direct opposition to

the majority report submitted by the special Papal Commission

established to study the question. Theologians, family life

educators, and lay people immediately offered dissent (Curran

& Hunt, 1969). The impact of this encyclical has been open to

much speculation for years but a recent study strongly indicates

that it had a disastrous effect on the Catholic Church in the

U.S. Greeley (1976) is quoted as saying that the teaching

authority of the Church and the credibility of the pope have

declined in respect. The encyclical has been linked to a one-

third drop in financial support, mass attendance, daily prayer,

and other religious practices. It also seems to have been the

occasion of massive apostasy, and were it not for the positive

forces resulting from the Second Vatican Council, matters would

have been worse.

The Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual

Ethics, by Pope Paul (1976) met with some negative responses,

also, mainly because there was little effort made to give

guidelines as to how sexual problems should be dealt with

at a pastoral level.

Pope Paul's (1976) stand on the juridical dimension of

marriage also evoked some strong negative reaction. He

reasserted that the marriage reality on the juridical plane

subsists independently of love, and persists even if love is

extinguished. This stand on marriage has not changed since Ford

and Kelly (1963) wrote:

A marriage which produces no children is still a marriage.
A marriage which is never sexually consumated is a real
marriage. Even a marriage in which there is no mutual
help, no life in common, in which concupiscence is not
remedied but reigns, where there is hatred instead of
love and complete separation both bodily and spiritually,
remains a true marriage in the sense that the essence of
marriage is still there; that is, the partners are still
married. (p. 49)

The corpus of Catholic thinking on marriage goes far beyond

the Church's condemnation of contraception and divorce. These

two areas, because they have been given such side publicity tend

to obscure the very many positive and optimistic teachings of

the Church on marriage. The Church considers marriage not only

a vocation but a religious vocation as well. It defines the

essential relevant relationship through which and within which a

married couple are to manifest their love of God and neighbor.

It stresses the voluntary total sharing of the whole of life in

a covenant between two people. It also stresses the dignity of

man, his capability to sacrifice himself for his family and

community through dedicated service, and his need for transcen-

dence. As an ideal, the functioning of a marriage may perhaps

be best exemplified in the following of the general outlines set

down by the Catholic Church for its members. These guidelines

are normally explained by a priest at Pre Cana Conferences.

Sources of Content

The content is derived from a variety of sources. The

doctrinal, moral, pastoral, and Canon law aspects are drawn

from Church teaching. The rest of the content is drawn from

information accumulated in the fields of medicine, psychology,

sociology, law, communications, and education and have a bearing

on marriage and family life. Speakers or panelists make contri-

butions from their own fields of knowledge or expertise. There

is also a wealth of literature which draws on all these fields

and is published in premarriage manuals and kits.

The Catholic Church has produced a considerable amount of

literature in the area of premarriage education. It has recog-

nized the contributions of secular researchers, and has had the

foresight to incorporate much of their findings in endeavoring

to understand marriage as a complex and multi-dimensional

institution. A cursory glance at the references and bibliogra-

phies in most of the Catholic manuals, handbooks or kits,

particularly in recent times, shows that much of the information

has been gleaned from secular sources. The Catholic sources of

information, used in preparing the content areas for this

particular Pre Cana Conference, by author, are as follows:

Bier (1965), Cavanagh (1966), Champlin (1974), Clemens (1951,

1957, 1964), Darst and Forque (1967), Ford and Kelly (1963),

Gilbert (1964), Haughton (1968, 1972), Imbiorski (1963), Kalt

and Wilkins (1967), Kennedy (1971, 1972), Lepp (1963), McDonald

and Nett (1974), McHugh (1968), Mercure (1972), Riga (1969),

Sattler (1959), Thomas (1951, 1956, 1971), and Wilkins (1967).

Publications in the form of manuals, kits, etc., are of great

value, especially those produced by the National Marriage

Preparation Committee of the U.S. Catholic Conference (1973),

and the Chicago Cana Conference (1964, 1970). These latter

two have been used extensively in developing the Pre Cana

Conference that is the object of this study.

Frequently quoted secular authors in the above literature

were Bernard (1956), Blood and Wolfe (1960), Burgess and Cottrell

(1939), Burgess and Wallin (1953), Landis and Landis (1968),

Locke (1951), Masters and Johnson (1966), Terman (1938), and

Winch (1958). Authors having a counseling and religious

orientation were Clinebell (1966), Morris (1960), Rutledge

(1966), and Skidmore (1956). It is noticeable that most of

these authors date back over several decades.

For the content outline of the different topics offered

at the Pre Cana Conference in this study see Appendix III.

Pre Cana Conference Research

Some surveys have been made in the area of Pre Cana

Conferences. McDonald and Nett (1974) have written about

developments in the diocese of Des Moines. The program

presented there between 1958 and 1968 did not appear to be

functioning well. The mid-sixties had seen college students

questioning the institution of marriage. The content of the

program was generally the same used in the rest of the U.S. and

was institution-oriented. Before changing the thrust and format

of the program, a survey was made to search for new directions.

Five hundred and fifty questionnaires were sent to those who had

attended the conferences in Des Moines between 1958 and 1968.

There was a 48 percent return which included couples who had

been married from three months to ten years. Thirty-four

percent had been married from seven to nine years.

Responses to question 24 of this survey, "Our attendance

at the Pre Cana Conference" were (a) helped us very much, 14

percent; (b) helped us somewhat, 42 percent; and (c) made no

noticeable difference in our understanding and love for each

other, 42 percent. Question 25 asked respondents to check the

single most important contribution from a list of significant

areas. Eleven percent said they helped in achieving healthy

sexual adjustment, 13 percent in resolving conflicts, 1 percent

in handling in-law problems, 27 percent in establishing better

communications, and 25 percent said they did not help at all.

When asked to check one area that should have been given greater

coverage, respondents checked sex, personality differences,

finances, and communications most frequently. Legal problems,

children, religion, and in-laws were checked the least number

of times.

As a result of this survey, and feedback from other sources,

McDonald developed a program which was more oriented toward

developing communication skills than in formally presenting


Corr (1975), in a study of the relationship between selected

background variables of active priests in New Jersey, and the

manner in which they prepared couples for marriage, found that

87.3 percent of all priests surveyed always or frequently

encouraged couples to make Pre Cana.

McManus (1968) offered some findings from a questionnaire

filled out by 600 persons scheduled to attend Cana Conferences

in Chicago in 1962.

1. Thirty-eight percent of the Pre Cana audience thought

that the laws of the Catholic Church regarding divorce

should be relaxed for people who were unhappily


2. Thirty-three percent did not think it immoral and

sinful to practice artificial birth control.

3. Thirty percent thought a moral teaching of a religion

ought to be changed when the majority of people

clearly disagree with it.

4. Forty-eight percent said that what a mature person

does with his body is his own concern.

In this sample, 90 percent were high school graduates and

45 percent had had some college education. It is not stated how

many were Catholic, but about half of the Catholics received all

their education in Catholic schools. Only one-fourth had been

educated entirely in public schools. Nine out of ten attended

Mass every Sunday, and 65 percent received Communion and went to

Confession at least monthly; the remaining 35 percent only

rarely. The findings from this study may be compared to those

of Bee (1951) which will be reviewed later.

Developments in secular fields have always influenced Cath-

olic thought and practice in education. Because Catholic insti-

tutions of higher learning are relatively free of episcopal

authority, they have enjoyed greater rapport with their secular

counterparts. There has been a greater sharing of whatever is

considered beneficial to humankind. Much of the secular research

on marriage and the family has been acknowledged as beneficial,

and has been incorporated into Catholic thinking and practice.

The following section will illustrate how secular premarriage

education courses developed as a result of expressed needs.

Outlined developments in the content area of these courses will

help provide a rationale for the inclusion of much of the con-

tent in current Pre Cana Conferences.

Development of Marriage Education
Courses at College Level

Although Groves is credited with offering perhaps the first

functional course in marriage preparation in 1924, Kerckhoff

(1964) points out that a study by Wells indicated that fifteen

colleges gave instructions of a somewhat academic orientation as

early as 1920, and another study by Drummond stated that some of

them dated back to 1910. There was a gradual growth in the

number of colleges offering marriage education courses in the

1930s, and then a rapid growth during and after World War II.

This no doubt was due to the dislocation of family life brought

about by the war, high unemployment, and the high rise in the

divorce rate.

At the college level much of the growth stemmed from the

demands of the students themselves.

Since 1926 Purdue had so-called Senior Marital
Lectures, but so few students were reached in this
manner that the more aggressive and progressive
pupils regularly demanded that a course on marriage
be placed on the curriculum. There was no follow-
through, however, until 1938 when interested students
and faculty members banded together with the avowed
purpose of organizing a really practical course on
marriage . It was discovered that there was a
tremendous demand for a marriage course, but that
the students would patronize only a practical and

democratic one. No such courses as offered by the
department of sociology or home economics for them!
These departments, they claimed, treated marriage
from an institutional and social point of view
rather than from a person-to-person, or psychological
and personal standpoint. (Wilkering, 1945, p. 35)

Again, in a report to the Personnel Council at Ohio State

University in 1937, a fact finding committee stated:

We know from an intensive study for nearly two years
that some action by the University in relation to
education for marriage is needed. We know it from
the requests and testimony of the students. We know
it from the experience of the instructors and advisors.
We also know it by reading and study of such plans on
other campuses. (Denune, 1945, p. 6)

Nor were these campuses exceptions. Keys (1946) wrote about a

petition by 2,700 students at the University of California for

marriage education courses. During the academic year 1948-49

Bowman (1949) sent out 1370 questionnaires to colleges and

received 1270 replies. Of the replies, 49.8 percent said they

were offering at least one course, and 50.2 percent said there

was no course offering in marriage education. In 1956 a ques-

tionnaire was sent to 1,600 junior colleges, colleges, and

universities asking information on the types of courses commonly

offered in marriage and family. Less than half replied. Of the

768 that replied, 68 percent said they offered one or more

courses (Landis, 1959).

As in any new academic endeavor, educators and other

interested people began to stand back and ask questions about

the value of these innovative courses. In the middle and late

1940s there arose questions as to what kinds of courses,

methods of presentation, and quality of teachers were best in

achieving course objectives and what, in fact, were the objec-

tives. There were position papers, pro and con, and inevitably,

as a result, a call to evaluate these programs.

Developments in the Areas of Content and Attitudes

Cooper (1946) reported a study headed by Clara Brown, in

cooperation with the American Council on Education, which tried

to determine the proper emphasis in home-life education, and the

possibility of their evaluation. Replies to a questionnaire

were received from 467 leaders in American life, some of them

educators, and others practical administrators of social and

scientific agencies. The first 5 of a 16-item table were

relevant to this study. Most of the other tables had to do

with child development. Indicated on the tables were the

percentages of total respondents who regarded the various

outcomes relating to family relationships as being important

and measurable.

Important Measurable

1. Knows what factors affect family
life (psychologically, biological,
economic, social)................. 95

2. Understands biological aspects of
marriage........................ 96

3. Understands adjustments needed
between men and women prior to
and after marriage................ 91

4. Knows where to get information on
counseling services and legal
requirements for marriage......... 93

5. Understands various kinds of family
crises and how they are met....... 91





51 (p. 32)

In his analysis of the returns to the questionnaire, Cooper

(1946) raised the following questions which are still being

asked today regarding Pre Cana Conferences, and have been taken

into consideration in developing the structure and objectives

of the conferences at the Catholic Student Center: What content

areas or topics should be covered? Can they be covered in a

reasonable amount of time? Would there be duplication because

some units had been covered in high school or in some other

courses? Should the courses be supplemented by psychological or

personal relations? Should there be special sessions for less

or more mature students? At Purdue there were 16 class meetings.

Of these, six were related to psychological aspects of marriage;

two to recent research; and one each to the biological, physical,

religious, recreational, sociological, and to budgeting, insur-

ance, hospitalization, and recent trends in housing. It was a

requirement of the course that each student meet at least twice

during the semester with the family coordinator to give him the

opportunity of discussing problems on a personal basis

(Wilkering, 1945). In general, the following topics formed the

basic content of the courses offered at Ohio State University:

The bisexual order, successful social relationships, recreation

and health, courtship and love, marriage and family, economic

aspects of family life, children and child bearing, and family

planning. As at other colleges, extensive bibliographies were

available for the students (Denune, 1945). Landis (1948)

offered insight into the development of marriage education at

Michigan State College. Ratings of the lectures by staff and

students varied greatly. On a rating scale of 10, the lectures

on contemporary religious views on marriage were rated 2, 10, 9;

adjustment in marriage 8, 2, 1; and societies stake in marriage

10, 5, 6, by staff, married students, and single students, in

that order. As a result the lecture concerning contemporary

religious views on marriage was dropped, and a more practical

lecture on mixed religion marriages was substituted with greater

success. A greater emphasis was laid on marriage adjustment

also. Constant evaluation made it clear that the expressed needs

of the students should be given great consideration as they had

more immediate personal investment in what was being offered.

In his study on course offerings in higher education,

Landis (1959) found that, of the students taking courses in

marriage education, 92.3 percent of students at Catholic col-

leges, and 29.8 percent of students in other colleges and uni-

versities, were in institutionally oriented courses on marriage

and family; and 3.2 percent and 65.2 percent, respectively, were

in functional courses. Professors at Catholic institutions

tended to make more use of panel discussions and outside speakers.

The textbooks and materials used were by Catholic writers, and

stressed the Church's attitude to marriage and family.

Review of Research Results on Marriage Education

Much of the evaluation done in the 1940s had to do with

developing adequate programs to meet the needs of the students.

Whether these courses actually met the needs of the students

became a matter of concern for educators, not only at a local

level but also at a national level. Cuber (1949) expressed

this concern.

Our critical judgment has progressed too far to
permit us to indulge in the pleasing fantasy that good
intentions do the recipient of the program any good.
For example, merely because a course of study is intended
to reduce race prejudice does not guarantee that it will
do so; prejudice may actually be increased as a result
of the course experience . . It is part of our
minimum professional competence to know as much as
we possibly can about the degree of success we are
achieving in our efforts in marriage education, which,
in terms of time consumed by teachers and students
together, must total millions of man-hours a year. (p. 93)

From the late 1940s until well into the early 1960s there

was considerable research done in the area of marriage and fam-

ily life courses offered at college level. Duvall (1965)

reviewed more than 80 reports of the effectiveness 'of marriage

courses and found that all were effective by all the measures

used to evaluate them. There were three major types of


1. Collecting student and alumni reactions to
completed courses.

2. Pre- and posttesting of student knowledge, attitudes
at the beginning and end of courses.

3. Administering standardized instruments to marriage
course students and matched controls before and
after a course. (p. 176)

Moses (1956) in one of four areas of her doctoral disser-

tation study on a one-semester course in family relationships

at Syracuse University endeavored to find out, with reference

to students, if they made measurable gains in their under-

standing of areas which the staff considered significant.

The test was given to 212 junior and senior men and women who

were enrolled in family relationship courses, and to 50 students,

the control group, who were not enrolled in the course or

courses that would overlap those of the experimental group.

Both the experimental and control groups had the same charac-

teristics and were similar with respect to age, sex, class, and

marital status. A slightly larger percentage of the experimen-

tal group were going steady, pinned, or engaged. An instrument

was designed to reveal data concerning the students' understand-

ing of areas of the course which the staff considered to be

important. This instrument was developed through the individual

and combined efforts of the four staff members teaching the

course and the investigator. The validity of the instrument

was established by these five on the grounds that they were

competent judges of the suitability of the material for the

purpose of the test. Reliability was established by utilizing

the Spearman-Brown formula. The experimental group made

significantly greater gains than the control group in areas

which the staff considered important. Engaged students made

significantly greater gains than those going steady or those

dating often.

Bardis (1963) studied the influence of a functional

marriage course on sex knowledge. The instrument used was

Gelolo McHugh's Sex Knowledge Inventory, 2nd revision, Form Y.

The subjects (45) in the experimental group were all college

students, 22 males and 23 females; 33 singles, 11 engaged and

1 married; 44 Protestants and 1 Catholic. A similar group

consisting of 45 subjects not enrolled in the marriage course

was used as a control. Both groups were tested at the begin-

ning and end of the course. The findings showed significant

gains for the experimental group.

Bee (1951) reported a study which tried to determine some

fairly generalized attitudes towards courses in courtship and

marriage, the content of the major divisions, the instructors'

implied values, and the difficulty and meaningfulness of

different divisions of the course. Bee also wanted to deter-

mine, among other things, what the students' formative experi-

ences had been with different patterns of sex affirmation-denial,

with different patterns of authority, and how students of differ-

ent ideological assumptions reacted. The research interest was

primarily theoretical, but it was hoped that the outcome would

give a better understanding of the needs and expectations, con-

scious or unconscious, of the students. The course was open to

only upper-division students at the University of Kansas and to

all students at Utah State. Class presentation was given as

informal lectures.(Bee, 1951).

The course contained considerable advanced theory
from anthropology, sociology, psychology, psychiatry,
and other fields, reduced to as elementary formulations
as possible and illustrated by many case excerpts. It
included some of the areas of questionable public
acceptance or offense such as sex, religion, and
personality deviates, in a frank, critical but
affirming manner . . No attempt was made to
avoid consideration of the painful and unlovely,
all of which go to make up the reality of
marriage. (p. 157)

The general reaction was favorable, though some students

responded unfavorably to some aspect of the courses. There

was little success in ferreting out correlations between

background experiences and attitudes.

Religious background and degree of orthodoxy alone,
or sex experience and orientations alone, through a
large number of experiences and orientations were
not found to be related to acceptance-rejection
of the course. (Bee, 1951, p. 157)

There were discrepancies in attitude, orientation, and

practice since there were striking differences between what

modal groups of students believed to be ethical, what they

actually did, and their sense of guilt or remorse. Bee

suggested that, if these discrepancies in attitude, orienta-

tion, and practice were found to be more general than one

study would indicate, the implications should not be taken

lightly. Based on an analysis of his study, and experience

in teaching and counseling, he considered that students were

deeply interested in, "The pursuit of an ethic that represents

an emotional and intellectual reconciliation between their more

unique personal needs and the expectations stemming from their

parental-religious backgrounds" (p. 159).

Finck (1956), in an article based on his doctoral disserta-

tion, concluded that factors of difference between participants

and non-participants in a marriage and family course could not

beisolated, that participation or non-participation in such a

course does not in itself determine certain gross characteris-

tics of family configuration, and does not demonstrably modify

the subsequent behavior of participants in the direction of

getting married, staying married, and having children, the

criteria used to define "success" in marriage.

He obtained a 74.3 percent return from students who had

participated in a course on marriage and the family, taught by

the same professor in selected years between 1932 and 1946 at

Florida State University, and a 70.7 percent return on a control

group who had not taken the course. He was not able to obtain

complete isolation between the two groups. However, of the

married graduates who had taken the course, 34.8 percent

believed it helped them a great deal; 52.8 percent, helped

somewhat; and 12.4 percent said it made no difference. Of the

control group, 38 percent said they regretted not taking the

course in marriage and the family.

Dyer (1959) presented the following as the immediate

objectives of a premarriage course offered by the Department

of Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Minnesota:

1. To give basic facts and information concerning
individual adjustment in premarital and marital

2. To provide group participation and opportunity for
discussion of problems in an objective way.

3. To reduce tensions in areas where information and
taboos have operated in the minds and attitudes
of students.

4. To help with specific personal problems through
individual counseling, if desired. (p. 230)

In a follow up several years afterwards on 513 married

students who had taken the course and 111 who had not taken

it, a comparison was made on happiness ratings, and it was

found that there was a significantly greater number of those

"less-than happy" in the control group. Dyer concluded from

this and other feedback that there was some evidence that the

preparation for marriage had some influence in effecting

happier marriages, at least in the earlier years of married


Gillis and Lastrucci (1954) investigated the effectiveness

of a college course in home and family living in changing

student behavior in the direction of better personal and social

adjustment, and a more positive attitude toward marriage. The

course lasted 18 weeks and was taken by three classes of college

juniors. Four instruments were used, the Bell Adjustment Instru-

ment (Student Form), the Mooney Problem Checklist (College Form),

a 100-question test of factual information, and a 50-item pro-

jective test of sentence completion. A highly significant in-

crease in factual information was found in all classes. Eighty

percent of the students, i.e., 12 of the 15 students who recorded

interviews, said they had gained from the course attitudes and

impressions which influenced their behavior for the better. The

differences between the pre- and posttest on the Bell scores

were not statistically significant, but there were meaningful

variations between classes in the number of problems checked

on the Mooney. Mayhew (1958) reported little relationship

between attitude changes and growth of knowledge in a college


Brim (1957) reviewed 23 evaluative studies on parent educa-

tion which had adequate research design, and which would permit

conclusions based on statistical inference. He defined parent

education as an activity which used educational techniques

rather than therapeutic procedures to influence parental role

performance. Four of these studies were concerned with the use

of pamphlets, seven with the use of group procedures, and three

with educational counseling procedures in parent education. In

the group procedure studies he found some conflicting results.

In two studies using control groups, one found significant

changes in parental attitudes in the experimental group, but

one of the two control groups showed an even larger and more

significant change in the same direction. The other study found

a significant improvement in the experimental group of parents

in attitude and no comparable change in the control group. The

majority of the studies found positive or beneficial effects as

a result of the programs regardless, apparently, of techniques

and how the effects were conceptualized. However, Krathwohl,

Bloom, and Masia (1964) claimed that much of the research on

relations between cognitive achievement, and attitudes and

values showed them to be statistically independent, or too low

to predict one type of response effectively from another.

Mixed Religion Marriages

Attitude of Catholics Toward Mixed Religion Marriages

Considerable research has been done on attitudes toward

mixed religion marriages. Christopherson and Walters (1958)

reported that only 10 percent of Catholic women in their study

of Catholics, Protestants, and Jews indicated they would marry a

person of different faith, although 64 percent frequently dated

men of other faiths. Kerkel, Himler and Cole (1965) found that

approximately 60 percent of Catholic students in their sample

were willing to marry outside the faith. There was no signifi-

cant differences in the response pattern of the Catholic men

and women. Landis (1960) reported that over 70 percent of

Catholics in his study would contract mixed religion marriages.

Wagner and Brown (1965), in a study of Newman Club members, a

Catholic campus organization, reported that Catholic girls were

more willing to cross religious lines than were Catholic boys.

Prince (1966) studied a sample of all Catholic students attend-

ing a Catholic university in the Pacific Northwest and found

(a) 40 percent of men and 30 percent of women said they would

cross religious lines and marry rather than remain single;

(b) Approximately 65 percent of the students believed that

marital happiness was more assured in religiously homogamous

marriages than in mixed religion marriages; and (c) Over 80

percent of the men and approximately 77 percent of the women

believed differences over religion matters were likely to lead

to marital conflicts. Prince did not state whether any of these

students had had marriage and family courses, institutional or

functional, at this particular college.

Though the results from these studies vary greatly, percent-

agewise they do show that a considerable number of Catholics

would be willing, under varying circumstances, to cross

religion lines to marry. These studies were made at the

college level.

What do studies at other levels have to say? Neuwien

(1966) in the Notre Dame nationwide study of elementary and high

schools reported that 23 percent of students would, or more than

likely would, want to marry a Catholic; 36 percent thought they

would like to marry a Catholic but would marry a non-Catholic

if necessary; and 44 percent said religion did not make a

difference when they thought of marriage. High school students

were more committed to marrying a Catholic than elementary stu-

dents. Children of parents further up the social ladder were

somewhat more tolerant of mixed marriages than those lower down

the scale. Shuster (1967) remarking on these findings, stated

that the influence of Catholic schools may not be as successful,

as expected, in maintaining group solidarity. The assumption

probably was that, because students are exposed to attitudes of

disapproval toward mixed marriages on the part of authority

figures in the schools, they should be less inclined to cross

religious lines. A recent study (Paradis, 1976) released by

the U.S. Catholic Conference showed that in 1974, only 8.6

million youngsters, 56.6 percent of all Catholic children in

elementary and high school, received formal religious instruc-

tion either in parochial schools or in out-of-school classes

conducted by the Church. The number receiving no formal

religious education has doubled in the past ten years. Paradise

(1976) speculated that this sharp decline was symptomatic of or

associated with other developments and changes that had shaken

the Church since Vatican Council II. Among these changes were

the decrease in Mass attendance, permissive parents who allowed

offspring to make their own decisions, secularization of relig-

ious values and attitudes, changing life styles, and the break-

ing up of Catholic ethnic groups. One must ask how the quasi

ignorance of a possibly large segment of Catholics who want to

marry in church for cultural reasons only, may be affected in a

positive way by the last ditch stance offered by the Pre Cana


Gallup (1976), in a survey of the U.S. adult population

18 years and over, concluded that, of the 39 million adult

Catholics, 27 percent were not members of a church; 25 percent

expressed only some or little confidence in organized religion;

32 percent said their religious beliefs were fairly, not too,

or not at all important; 47 percent did not attend church in a

typical week; and the percentage of Catholics who attended church

dropped 16 points between 1964 and 1974. With the exception

of church attendance, Catholics at each level of commitment

closely paralleled those of the rest of the population. How

much this present state is due to mixed religion marriages is

open to speculation. Thomas (1956), in giving what he called

a conservative summary of the effects of such marriages on the

religious instruction and training of the children, stated that

approximately 40 percent of all children born of these mar-

riages were either unbaptized, baptized in a non-Catholic

religion, or were baptized only and given no formal instructions

in the faith. Landis (1960) estimated that 50 percent were

reared as Protestants, and Zimmerman (1960), that 70 percent

were active in no church.

Reasons for Mixed Religion Marriages

There is considerable support for the proposition that when

other variables are equal, the smaller the religious group, the

higher will be the rate of intermarriage; and the larger the

group, the lower the rate of intermarriage (Nye & Berardo,

1975). Catholics comprise perhaps 20 to 25 percent of the U.S.

population and vary greatly in concentration. The Northeast for

example has some heavy concentrations, whereas in many parts of

the South they may comprise less than 4 percent of the popula-

tion. In Florida, they represent roughly 12 percent of the total

population, hence a tendency towards a higher rate of mixed

religion marriages (Table 1, p. 51). Although population

imbalance does affect the rate of mixed religion marriages in

the case of Catholics, some other variables should be looked at

to see if they may be contributing factors in the growing

upswing in mixed religion marriages.

Kelly (1946), in his study, indicated that there seemed to

be a positive correlation between socio-economic class and mixed

religion marriage rates in large urban areas. The higher up

the scale, the more proneness to mixed religion marriages.

Fichter (1951) reported in his study of Catholic parishes in

New Crleans that the rate of mixed religion marriages varied

directly with income level. Thomas (1951), as a result of his

research, predicted an increase in these types of marriages, and

outlined several reasons which may be helpful in assessing

attitudes in this study. He held that national differences

were gradually fused with the host culture and that ethnic

barriers were losing much of their prohibitive effects.

Catholic and non-Catholic interaction in schools, occupations,

and social life in general seemed to be increasing. Mixed

religion marriages appeared to have a cumulative effect, as the

children of these marriages tended more often to enter the same

kind of marriage. Individualism, a growing phenomenon, was

leading towards an ignoring of prohibitions, and finally, the

attitude of younger people toward these marriages was becoming

increasingly tolerant. Heiss (1960) found, in a New York study

that Catholics who entered mixed religion marriages were more

likely to have non religious parents, to have been more dis-

satisfied with their parents when young, and'to be more

independent at the time of marriage.

McNamara (1968) in the same vein, pointed out that flat

prohibitions which rested on impersonal, institutional authority,

were having less and less effect on the behavior of young

Americans, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. He also pointed

out that, as Catholics moved up the socio-economic ladder, they

cast off old ethnic ties and move into the suburbs where mixed

religion marriages were higher than in the central or older

sections of the city. As the Catholic minority becomes more

acceptable to the host population, and as Catholics come to

accept the values of that population, they mix more, and so

marriage becomes both a means and a result of mixing.

Bugelski (1961) showed that ingroup marriages in Buffalo fell

from 79 percent to 35 percent among Poles, and from 71 percent

to 27 percent among Italians between 1930 and 1960. One might

assume that there was an increase in mixed religion marriages


An analysis made by the National Opinion Research Center,

Chicago (1975) of a composite sample of 18,000 Americans put

together from 12 representative national surveys, showed that

Irish, Italian, and Polish Catholics now outstrip Protestants of

all denominations in income and education. What effects this

striving has had on the children who may be currently attending

Pre Cana Conferences is open to speculation. The scope of this

study does not cover ethnicity as such, nor does it intend to

discover the ethnic determinants of attitudes. But with this

information about trends in the Catholic population, some light

may be thrown in a global way when analyzing the data obtained.

Mixed Religion Marriages in Florida

The geographical territory of Florida encompasses the five

Catholic dioceses of Florida. Beginning in 1870, the original

diocese of St. Augustine comprised all of the State of Florida

east of the Apalachicola River. Over the years, the western

section of the state was added when new dioceses were estab-

lished. Miami was established in 1958; Orlando and St. Peters-

burg in 1968; and Pensacola-Tallahassee in the Fall of 1975

(Henceforth these dioceses will be referred to as St. Augustine

Miami, Orlando, St. Petersburg, and Pensacola-Tallahassee. A

city with the same name as that of a diocese will be identified

as such).

Miami comprises the counties of Broward, Collier, Dade,

Glades, Hendry, Martin, Monroe, and Palm Beach. Orlando com-

prises the counties of Brevard, Highland, Indian River, Lake,

Marion, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Polk, St. Lucie, Seminole,

and Volusia. St. Petersburg comprises the counties of Charlotte,

Citrus, De Soto, Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee,

Pasco, Pinellas, and Sarasota.

Until 1975 the diocese of St. Augustine consisted of the

eastern counties of Hamilton, Lafayette, Dixie, Suwanee,

Columbia, Baker, Union, Bradford, Gilchrist, Levy, Alachua,

Duval, Nassau, St. John's, Clay, Putnam, and Flagler; as well

as the western counties of Taylor, Madison, Jefferson, Wakulla,

and Leon. These latter five counties were recently organized

into the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee.

The records of marriages performed by the Catholic Church

in Florida over the past four years are presented in Table 1.

The records are assumed to be accurate, as pastors are under

obligation to enter in the parish register every valid marriage

performed in the parish. The marriages may be Catholic or

mixed religion, and need not necessarily have taken place in

the local Catholic church. There were no statistics available

to estimate the number of invalid marriages, whether they were

between two Catholics, or between a Catholic and a non-Catholic.

A Bishop's Committee estimated that the figure may be as high

as 25 percent (Thomas, 1956).

Table 1

All Valid Marriages in Florida by Dioceses, 1972 1975


St. Augustine 1,322 (38%) 2,145 (62%) (100%)

St. Petersburg 2,783 (46%) 5,382 (54%) (100%)

Orlando 1,899 (40%) 2,849 (60%) (100 )

Miami 11,944 (69%) 5,329 (31 ;) (100%)

Total 17,948 (57%) 13,704 (43%) (1000)

Source: Official Catholic Directory 1972, 73, 74, and 75

It is impossible to calculate accurately the ratio between

the Catholic population and the total population in either the

dioceses or in the State of Florida. For example, the Catholic

population of Orlando decreased from 137,754 in 1973 to 90,617

in 1975, while the total population for that diocese decreased

by nearly 400,000. The Catholic population in Miami increased

by nearly 120,000 during the same period, but the general

population increased by almost a million (Official Catholic

Directory 1973, 1975). If the data from the Official Catholic

Directory is used, Catholics comprise 11.9 percent of the total

Florida population. Figures from 1949 show the Catholic popula-

tion as 4.8 percent of the total Florida population, and 45

percent of marriages in the Catholic Church were mixed religion

marriages. Since 1949 there appears to have been a marked

increase in mixed religion marriages in all dioceses with the

exception of Miami.

Mixed Religion Marriages in
Gainesville. Florida

There are three Catholic parishes in the city and suburbs

of Gainesville. Records of valid marriages for the years 1972

to 1975, inclusive, for St. Patrick's parish and the Catholic

Student Center (St. Augustine's parish, as it is also called),

were obtained from the parish registers. Records for Holy

Faith, a recently established parish, are available for the

years 1974 and 1975.

Table 2

All Valid Marriages in Gainesville by Parish
for the Years 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975


Catholic Student Center 62 (39%) 101 (61i) (100%)
St. Patricks 22 (44%) 26 (56%) (100%)
Holy Faitha 7 (30S) 16 (70%) (100%)
Total 91 (37%) 145 (63%) (100%)

years 1974 and 1975 only.

Of the total marriages performed at all three parishes over the

past four years, 37 percent were Catholic and 63 percent were

mixed religion, practically the same percentages as those for

the diocese of St. Augustine as a whole.

There was no way of obtaining accurate data on the total

Catholic population in Gainesville. None of the three parishes

was able to produce usable figures. Three thousand, seven

hundred and sixty-four students attending the University of

Florida in the Spring of 1976 gave their religious preference

as Catholic. These, or some of them, attended church at the

Catholic Student Center. Faculty and staff from the University,

and a considerable number of people without any university con-

nections also attend the parish. A rough estimate by the pastor

of one of the parishes put the Catholic population of Gaines-

ville at about 8,000. According to the Bureau of Economic and

Business Research at the University of Florida, the population

of Gainesville was estimated at 74,502 in July 1975. The popu-

lation for the Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area was 130,838.

If the rough estimate of 8,000 Catholics is used, Catholics

comprised 10.7 percent of the total Gainesville population in


Records show that 281 people attended Pre Cana Conferences

at the Catholic Student Center in the years 1974 and 1975. Of

these, only about 40 percent were married in Gainesville at the

Catholic Student Center. Three or four couples were married at

the other churches in Gainesville. Of the couples who were

married at the Student Center, six had had Pre Cana Conferences


Historical Note on Mixed Religion Marriages

The attitude of the Catholic Church towards mixed religion

marriages was, and is, quite negative. Marriage between

Christian girls and "infidels, Jews, heretics, or priests

of the pagan rites" (Vincent, 1972, p. 215) were condemned by

the Council of Elvira in 306 A.D. The Emperor Constantine

ordered the death penalty for couples entering a Christian-

Jewish marriage in 339 A.D. The Synod of Pressburg in 1309

condemned mixed marriages, but stated that a marriage between

a Catholic and a heretic was valid but illicit (Thomas, 1951).

There is some doubt that all marriages between Christians and

non-Christians or heretics before the 15th Century were con-

sidered invalid, as positions on this matter changed in

different countries at different periods in history.

In the early Church there were no general laws, and the

validity of a marriage did not require that it be performed

before an authorized priest. Before the Council of Trent

(1545-1563) therefore, a valid but illicit marriage could be

contracted without the presence of a priest (Siegle, 1973).

The Protestant revolt, and the subsequent entrenchment by the

Catholic Church, resulted in a tightening up of regulations.

The Temetsi decree of that council stated that all marriages

were invalid unless they were contracted before one's own

pastor, or a priest delegated by the pastor, or local bishop,

together with two witnesses. Wherever this decree was pub-

lished, all baptized persons, Catholic or Protestant, who were

married without the presence of a Catholic priest were con-

sidered to have entered an invalid marriage (Siegle, 1973).

The Catholic Church claimed jurisdiction, therefore not only

over Catholics, but over Protestants as well. In 1624, a decree

was enacted forbidding pastors to perform mixed religion

marriages without a dispensation from the pope himself; and even

then, the granting of the dispensation was contingent on the

Protestant changing his or her religion. The Benedictine

Declaration of 1741 modified the Temetsi decree by exempting

Protestants from that legislation, though they had never accepted

that the Catholic Church could legislate for them even when

marrying within their own church. Kavanaugh (1968) referred

to this attitude of the Catholic Church, and called it, quite

properly, "arrogance."

Pope Pius VI (1775-1799) perhaps set the tone for what is

now called the "promise" made before a dispensation can be ob-

tained for a mixed religion marriage. A priest was allowed

to be a material witness in a mixed religion marriage if

promises were made for the safeguarding of the faith of the

Catholic party, and the baptism and instruction of the children.

However, since the Council of Trent, priests in some European

countries had been performing marriages without asking for dis-

pensations from the Holy See, or demanding that the non-Catholic

change religion. Pius VI was really trying to stem a growing

custom by introducing a less severe law. Siegle (1973) notes

that the Temetsi decree and/or the Benedictine Declaration of

1741 was published only in the Provinces of New Orleans, San

Francisco, parts of Utah, Vincennes (Indiana), and St. Louis

in the U.S., and therefore only the people in those areas were

bound by that law. In 1908, the decree Ne Temere was promulgated

as a universal law claiming the right of the Church to prescribe

the form of marriage. Canon 1016, of the Code of Canon Law,

held that Church power extended to the entire marriage contract

which was subject to the natural and divine law, and that the

state had rights only where civil effects were concerned. From

1918 to 1970, Canon 1060 held sway where mixed religion marriages

were concerned. This canon, though somewhat mitigated in prac-

tice, states:

The Church everywhere most strictly forbids the
contracting of marriage between two baptized
persons of whom one is a Catholic and the other
is a member of a heretic or schismatic sect; and
if there is danger of perversion for the
Catholic party and the children, the marriage
is forbidden also by Divine Law. (Siegle, 1973, p. 100)

To safeguard the Catholic party, the non-Catholic party had to

give guarantees before being allowed to marry in the Catholic

Church. These guarantees included the baptism and instruction

of the children in the Catholic religion, and the rejection of

birth control.

The Church used more than legal methods to discourage mixed

religion marriages. Should a couple planning such a marriage be

able to solve their conscience problems, there were still social

and liturgical sanctions to make them aware that what they were

doing was not approved of. These public restrictions were also

meant to have a discouraging effect on those who attended these

weddings. Mixed religion weddings were held in sacristies or

rectories, and infrequently in churches outside the communion

rails. Music, flowers, or lighted candles were frequently for-

bidden. Canon 1026 of the Code of Canon Law prohibits the pub-

lication of Banns for mixed religion marriages, "because other-

wise the publication might encourage others to mixed marriages"
(Siegle, 1973).

Pike (1954) analysed the actual or potential violation of

conscience caused by the requirements of various churches. He

examined the pros and cons of mixed religion marriages, and pre-

sented the pre-nuptial and post-nuptial hazards that couples

should consider before entering one. He pointed out that,

historically, the Catholic Church has been the main agent of

violations, and presented the stands by other churches to

counteract it. Protestant churches in the U.S.A., in particular

have found the attitude of the Catholic Church repugnant and

have expressed their own disapproval and/or anger in a similar


Landis and Landis (1968) gave some examples of how the

question of mixed religion marriages evoked strong emotion and

reactions in Protestant churches. The Lutheran Church Missouri

Synod passed the following resolution in 1953:

Whereas the Roman law pertaining to marriage between
Lutherans and Roman Catholics requires instruction
from a priest and/or the signing of a Roman prenuptial
contract and Whereas said contract involves a sinful
promise or oath; violates the Christian conscience;
condemns unborn children to the soul-destroying
religion of the Anti-Christ; and is diametrically
opposed to the eternal truths of God; and Therefore,
be it resolved that we plead with our pastors and
congregations to deal with this matter in their
respective congregations in a firm, evangelical
manner, and Resolved, that we ask The Family Life
Committee to provide our people with pertinent
information as soon as possible. (p. 185)

Several other churches passed similar resolutions in the 1950s.

On June 25, 1959, Pope John XXIII announced his plan to

convoke an ecumenical council, the twenty-first since the Coun-

cil of Nicaea in 325 A.D., and the first since Vatican I of

1869-70. In December of 1965 the Declaration of Religious

Freedom was promulgated. The following statements were con-

sidered to be of great significance, and if applied would do

much to heal the wounds of religious division:

This Vatican Synod declares that the human person
has a right to religious freedom. This freedom
means that all men are to be immune from coercion
on the part of individuals or of social groups and
of any human power, in such wise that in matters
religious no one is forced to act in a manner
contrary to his own beliefs. Nor is anyone to be
restrained from acting in accordance with his own
beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether
alone or in association with others, within due
Since the family is a society in its own
original right, it has the right freely to live
its own domestic religious life under the
guidance of parents. Parents, moreover, have
the right to determine, in accordance with their
own religious beliefs, the kind of religious education
that their children are to receive. (Abbott, 1966,
pp. 678-679; 683)

In 1966,,a decree on mixed religion marriages was promul-

gated but was ill received by other Christian churches. For

one thing, it retained the demand that the non-Catholic spouse

make the promise to bring the children up as Catholics, and this

appeared to contradict what has been stated in the Declaration

of Religious Freedom as stated above. The Church appeared to

have pulled back somewhat, perhaps because it felt it had

opened the flood gates and mixed religion marriages would

become the norm rather than the exception. Perhaps the Church

also felt that it was losing power in a pluralistic society

characterized by rapidly changing conditions, and one which

was rejecting laws considered to be too restrictive and too


In 1971 Pope Paul issued Motu Proprio, Apostolic Letter

Determining Norms for Mixed Marriages. This went a long way

toward redressing the grievances of non-Catholics. The promises

demanded from the non-Catholic were dropped, and most, if not

all of the liturgical and social restrictions dropped or made

more flexible. Commenting on the norms set down in Motu Proprio,

Siegle (1973) said:

A Catholic is asked to respect the sincere conscience
of his non-Catholic partner, just as he wants his own
conscience to be respected. Harmony must be sought
in the family, especially when it comes to the
education of the children. Here there must be the
give and take idea. . The norm "to do all in his
power" does not mean that the Catholic must exert
pressure or undue strain on the non-Catholic party
which would destroy the harmony of the marriage or
contribute to the breaking up of the marriage. (p. 106)

The American Bishops (1971) published a statement in

response to Motu Proprio. McGroarty and Collins (1973) inter-

preted this statement in a very practical manner, and included

their interpretation and suggestions for use at Pre Cana Confer-

ences in the kit produced by the National Marriage Preparation

Committee (1973, pp. 159-184).

The attitude of the Church has changed considerably over

the centuries, and some of the more radical changes for the

better have occurred in the last few years. However, stereo-

typing and prejudices die slowly. It is quite possible that

many of the non-Catholics, and some Catholics whose parents had

a mixed religion marriage and still have some unhappy memories

of obstacles they had to overcome to get married in church, may

come to Pre Cana Conferences with reservations bordering on the

negative. The researcher has performed over seventy mixed

religion marriages, and counseled many others entering such

marriages. He is aware that negative attitudes do exist, but

that some of these attitudes exist because of misconceptions

and ignorance concerning recent changes.

Though there have been changes regarding mixed religion

marriages, one must still ask where the non-Catholic is coming

from in the 1970s when he or she is entering a mixed religion

marriage. Nye and Berardo (1973), when writing on the effects

of religion on family roles stated:

A religion ideology goes far beyond defining
the relations of men to deity; specifically it
defines man's relationship to man. (p. 150)

The non-Catholics must still view some of the array of

church expectations or laws as threatening to their moral and

religious values. Birth control devices are forbidden. Cer-

tain days, greatly reduced in number in recent years, are set

aside for fast and abstinence. Catholic spouses are still

required to do their best to instruct their children in the

Catholic faith, and are expected, at considerable cost, to

send them to Catholic schools when possible. Unlike some

other churches however, the Catholic Church no longer requires

the wife to state she will obey her husband when exchanging



The objective of this study was to investigate the effects

of a Pre Cana Conference held at the Catholic Student Center in

Gainesville, Florida. An attitude scale and a knowledge test

were developed to measure the effects of this conference. The

participants were randomly assigned to experimental and control

groups. The design.of the study was a posttest design only.

The data provided by these instruments and selected variables

from the participants' backgrounds were then analyzed.

Development of the Pre Cana Conference

The first part of the developmental process leading to the

Pre Cana Conferences held at the Catholic Student Center, was

the delivery of a questionnaire to the directors of family life

in the five Catholic dioceses of the State of Florida. The

cover letter asked them as representatives of the Catholic Church

to give responses to the following six questions:

1. The customary or most common approach in giving
these courses
2. The number of blocks and the time schedule
3. The subject matter or content
4. The use you make of outside professional help
and the areas covered by them
5. Your expectations regarding the outcome of a
functional Pre Cana Conference
6. Your evaluation of the effectiveness of
Pre Cana Conferences. (Appendix I)


The objective of the letter was to solicit information

regarding the functioning of Pre Cana Conferences in the five

dioceses. This information was then used to develop at the

Catholic Student Center a program that would best represent

what was generally being done by the Catholic Church in Florida.

Since the returns were considered adequate in providing the

information sought, it was decided that no further useful pur-

pose would be served by returning checklists to the directors

for their evaluation as was suggested in the cover letters.

However, a letter was sent to explain the change in procedure.

The returns from the questionnaire were analyzed by the

researcher and two other Catholic priests who acted as judges.

All three judges had advanced degrees, one in theology, one in

political science, and one in education. All three had had six

years of formal education in philosophy and theology. All three

had taught marriage education courses at the high school or

college level, and had previously conducted or participated

in Pre Cana Conferences.

These returns were found to have some incomplete informa-

tion. The Diocese of St. Augustine had been divided into two

parts in the Fall of 1975, and a director of family life had not

as yet been appointed in the new diocese of Pensacola-Tallahas-

see. Telephone calls made to the new and old dioceses revealed

that the programs were functioning in the same way as before

the split. Calls were made to two other directors to clarify

a few statements that lacked specificity.

Analyses of the returns showed that the replies to the

first four questions allowed for general numerical tabulations.

The replies to questions five and six did not, and were recorded

as reported (See Appendix II). The replies to the first four

questions were especially helpful in setting up the Pre Cana

Conferences which were to be offered at the Catholic Student

Center.. The open-ended questions elicited reasonably detailed

responses from most of the directors. For example, the replies

to question number two, "the number of blocks and time schedule,"

enabled the judges to obtain a modal frequency for the number of

sessions, the length of time for each session, and the days most

commonly chosen. Other information, on tabulation, showed wide

variation within and among dioceses. What were estimated by the

judges to be the most common elements were set down as guide-

lines for developing the program in Gainesville.

The findings indicated that the most common elements were

included in previous conferences given at the Catholic Student

Center with two noticeable exceptions. On the average more

sessions were offered elsewhere. To make up for this differ-

ence, two extra sessions were added. At previous conferences

a medical doctor spoke on both the gynecological and psychosexual

dimensions of marriage during one session only. These were

made separate sessions. Two medical doctors had one session

each, one addressed the gynecological, and the other the psycho-

sexual dimension. A married, mixed religion couple were assigned

a session on mixed religion marriages. This session had been

omitted in former conferences. The review of the literature in

this area supported the point held by the directors of family

life that this should be a "sine qua non" at conferences in

Florida because of the high rate of mixed religion marriages


Having analyzed the returns and studied current literature

on Pre Cana Conferences, the judges revised many of the topics

customarily given at the Catholic Student Center. For added

input, the researcher was able to furnish the other judges with

topics or areas that engaged couples, who had previously

attended the conferences, indicated were felt needs. This

information had been obtained from a pilot study made at the

end of a conference in the Fall of 1975. The researcher had

also received information by interviewing five couples who had

taken Pre Cana Conferences both in Gainesville and elsewhere

over the past few years.

A list of topics was drawn up for each session. This list

contained anywhere from eight to fourteen topics which were con-

sidered by the judges to be appropriate for dissemination to

engaged couples. Since time was an important consideration,

it was decided that the topics should be limited in number to

seven or eight for each session. This meant that some topics

had to be incorporated or integrated with others or discarded

altogether. It must be stated that the final list of topics

could be treated only minimally because of time limitations.

The first of the two Pre Cana Conferences was held on the

evenings of May 14, 15, and 16, 1976. There were eight sessions.

Three sessions were held on the first two evenings, and two

sessions on the third evening. The first session opened with

registration at 7:00 p.m. It was a customary practice at Pre

Cana Conferences to distribute to the participants a premarriage

manual published by the Cana Conferences of Chicago (Thomas,

1971). This manual contains much of the content material that

is covered at the conferences. The manuals were distributed

during registration and the couples were asked to read them over

the weekend. After registration the couples introduced them-

selves and were then encouraged to ask questions and participate

in the discussions during each session. The first presentation

began at 7:25 p.m. There was a five minute break between the

second and third session on the first two nights. On the final

night, there was a five minute break between the first and second

session. At the end of the second session the instruments were

administered to participants in the experimental group. The

time schedule for the conference is shown in Appendix IV.

The Panel of Speakers

Two Catholic priests, two medical doctors (one of them

accompanied by his wife), an attorney, a professor of marketing

and his wife, and two married couples conducted the sessions.

All the outside panelists or speakers were volunteers, which is

standard for Pre Cana Conferences. Most of the speakers were

professionals, five being faculty or staff at the University of

Florida in Gainesville. Since most of them had already been

active as panelists in previous conferences, the researcher

was cognizant of their competence in dealing with their fields

of expertise. Little attempt had been made in the past to

structure what the speakers had to contribute. For this

particular conference, however, they were asked to adhere to

the topics listed by the three judges for each session. They

received this list in advance together with relevant literature

published by the National Marriage Preparation Committee (1973).

They were consulted when the questions for the knowledge test

were developed, and they were given the appropriate test ques-

tions before their sessions with the conference participants.

The researcher met with the speakers before the conference

to further discuss techniques of presentation. The areas of the

knowledge test were dealt with either directly or by inference,

although no attempt was made to highlight these areas. The

sessions were taped so that overexposure or gross inadequate

coverage of these areas could be detected. This was considered

necessary to protect the validity of the instrument. The

speakers were informed that they themselves were not subject

to evaluation. A list of speakers and topics is presented in

Appendix III.

The Participants

Eighty-two persons preregistered for the two Pre Cana Con-

ferences. There were 40 in the experimental group and 42 in

the control group. As was customary, notices for the upcoming

conferences were published in the weekly church bulletin for

six weeks prior to the conferences. A notice was also inserted

in the Alligator, a University of Florida student publication.

To inform those who might miss the parish bulletin notices

because they were not "regular" church goers or attended the

neighboring Catholic parishes, notices were sent to the Gaines-

ville Sun newspaper, and to WRUF, one of the local radio sta-

tions. The pastors of the other two Catholic parishes in

Gainesville informed their parishioners about the conferences.

This extra advertising was considered necessary to broaden the

sample and to prevent walk-ins. These steps proved effective.

There were no walk-ins and therefore, there were no changes in

the number of participants and in the preregistered control

and experimental groups.

Group Assignment of the Participants

The couples or singles, as was the case if one of the in-

tended spouses could not attend the conferences on their first

appointment with the priest coordinator of the program, were

assigned to either the experimental or control group. A list

was made of all who called the secretary at the Catholic Student

Center expressing the wish to attend the Spring Quarter Confer-

ence. This list was used to make appointments for the initial

interviews. During the first interview, the participants were

asked if they could attend a conference given on the evenings of

May 16, 21, 22, and 23. If, after checking their schedules,

they replied in the affirmative, they assigned themselves to the

control group. If they were unable to attend on these dates

because of prior commitments, they were asked if they could

attend the conference given on the evenings of May 14, 15, and

16. If they could attend on those dates, they assigned them-

selves to the experimental group. All but three couples said

they could attend one or the other of the conferences. These

three couples were not getting married until the end of the

Summer or the Fall and were informed they could attend the

Summer Quarter Conference in July.

This system of assigning participants was considered

necessary because surveys made at previous conferences showed

nearly half of the participants attended these conferences

involuntarily. If the participants for this conference were

given the option of attending on three, rather than four, even-

ings there would probably have been a very small control group.

By using this system, 40 participants assigned themselves to the

experimental group and 42 assigned themselves to the control

group. There were 20 couples in the experimental group. There

were 20 couples and 2 singles in the control group.

The experimental group had perfect attendance except for

one couple who could not attend on the last evening, and there-

fore were not tested. Thirty-eight of the control group were

there for testing at the appropriate time. Two of these were

singles. All 42 however attended the second conference.

After assignment, and during the first interview, the

couples were asked to fill out a questionnaire (See Appendix

V). This questionnaire solicited background information that

was used later in conjunction with data collected at the end

of the first conference. The questionnaire was filled out

privately and separately when a couple attended the interview.

No name was put on the questionnaire, but the last four digits

of their social security number were inserted in the four boxes

at the top right hand corner. This was done with the attitude

and knowledge instruments also. The questionnaire was then put

into a sealed box by the participants in order to guarantee

anonymity. They were asked about any previous interviews they

may have had with a priest regarding their intended marriage,

and if they were given any literature to read. These factors

could be of significance in interpreting data so notes regarding

pre conference exposure were kept. Before leaving, the couples

were given an appointment slip to remind them of the dates and

times they were to come to the Catholic Student Center. Some

days before the actual conference they were all reminded by


Design of the Study

The design of the study was a randomized posttest only.

Pre Cana Conferences, by their nature, deal with some unique

content areas and objectives. This design had the advantage

of avoiding an experimenter-introduced pretest session bias,

and in avoiding the "giveaway" repetition of identical or

highly similar unusual content as in attitude change studies

(Campbell & Stanley, 1963).

The two Pre Cana Conferences were held on consecutive

weekends in May 1976, at the Catholic Student Center. The

first conference was held on the evenings of May 14, 15, and 16,

at 7:00 p.m. The second conference was held on May 21, 22, and

23. The experimental group attended the first conference. On

the final evening of their conference, the evening of the 16th,

the control group also convened in a separate room at the

Catholic Student Center. The control group was asked to meet

at 7:30 p.m., midway through a session for the experimental

group which had started at 7:10 p.m., in the library. The

control group was met at the front entrance by volunteers and

escorted to the lounge. The lounge and library are adjacent

but the doors were locked. After roll call, the study was dis-

cussed and the participants were assured of anonymity. They

were then administered the attitude scale and the knowledge

test, and on completion were asked to leave without contacting

any of the experimental group. There was no contact. They then

returned for the second conference on the following weekend. On

the same evening of the 16th, upon completing the conference at

9:10 p.m., the experimental group was administered the same

instruments. An analysis of this and other collected data was

then made.

Development of Instruments

A search for standardized devices to measure the effective-

ness of instruction on selected attitudes proved futile because

Pre Cana Conferences by nature are unique. Several devices

could meet the needs of the researchers in some areas, but none

was found that would address itself precisely to this situation.

Therefore instruments had to be developed to meet specified


Knowledge Test

Krathwohl et al. (1964) stated that only the teacher him-

self, knowledgeable of his specific objectives and responsibil-

ities for the learning experience he provides, is in any position

to devise an instrument for appraising the results of his

instructions. This principle has been accepted.

Nearly three months before the scheduling of the Pre Cana

Conference, the volunteer speakers were apprised of the topics

they would speak on, and were also furnished with relevant

literature to help them prepare the sessions. They were later

asked to submit four to six questions which they thought would

elicit responses that would be indicative of learning in their

areas on the part of engaged couples. These questions were then

appraised by three priest judges and refined as necessary. The

questions were true or false, and represented the content area

of the eight sessions to be given at the conferences.

Attitude Scales

One of the objectives of the Pre Cana Conferences is to

foster a positive attitude toward Christian marriage, and im-

press on engaged couples that religion is an important ingre-

dient in family and married life. From past experience, the

researcher was aware that at least some engaged couples who

were planning to attend the May Pre Cana Conference would have

negative attitudes about the teachings and posture of the

Catholic Church. Therefore he was interested in investigating

some attitudes which might be affected by the conference.

The requirements for marriage in the Catholic Church are

stringent, and engaged couples know that their attitude towards

the precepts of the Church can be quickly used to allow or deny

them marriage in the Church. As one of the requisites for mar-

riage all couples are required to answer a lengthy questionnaire

under oath and in the presence of a priest. On the basis of

their replies to some of these questions they will be allowed or

denied a church marriage. The format and direction of the ques-

tions re substantially the same for all the Catholic dioceses in

the U.S. The pre-nuptial questionnaire for the diocese of St.

Augustine is used at the Catholic Student Center (see Appendix

VI, questions 15, 18, and 20). The researcher has seldom, if

ever, received a negative response to these questions. Confi-

dentiality does not allow that use be made of these pre-nuptial

questionnaires. If granted anonymity in expressing attitudes

through an instrument other than that required by the Catholic

Church however, the participants may indicate discrepancies

between covert attitudes and overt behavior. Moreover, the

researcher was also interested in evaluating attitudes toward

other aspects of marriage such as birth control, church author-

ity, the practice of religion and morality, and mixed religion


To help pinpoint and assess some of these attitudes, pub-

lished standardized attitude scales were researched. Only one

instrument, the "Catholic Sexual and Family Ideology Test"

(Straus, 1969) was promising, but correspondence indicated it

was no longer available. Published standardized attitude scales

in Shaw and Wright (1967) did not address the particular needs

of the researcher. This text however proved a useful reference

as to the direction to be taken in developing a scale.

The investigator obtained the help of two Catholic priests

who were well versed in Catholic theology and were cognizant of

the variety of attitudes currently held by lay people and clergy

in the U.S. These three drew up a list of commonly held

opinions and created a list of 28 statements which seemed to

represent them. Three of the original 28 statements were elin-

inated as they did not adequately address the attitude objects.

The final value scale comprised 25 statements which were either

orthodox or unorthodox, according to the teaching of the Catho-

lic Church. Eleven of the statements deal with Catholic Church

authority and the practice of religion and morality, while six

deal with marriage, four with birth control, and four with mixed

religion marriages. Of the 25 statements, 12 are orthodox and

13 are unorthodox. In this scale, the subjects are asked to

respond to the statements on a five-point scale: "I strongly

agree, I agree, Indifferent, I disagree, or I strongly disa-

gree." The scales are scored by assigning values from 5 to 1

for the responses to the orthodox statements, i.e., 5 for "I

strongly agree" to 1 for "I strongly disagree," and vice versa

for statements of unorthodoxy.

Validity of the Instruments

The validity of the knowledge test was established in the

following manner. Of the true and false questions submitted by

the speakers, 40 were accepted after evaluation by 3 priest

judges. These questions, and the content areas were then sub-

mitted to three faculty members of the College of Education at

the University of Florida. After scrutiny and refinement, the

40 questions were retained. Validity was therefore established

on the judgment of the six judges. The validity of the attitude

scale was established in the same way by three priest judges.

Field Testing of the Instruments

The knowledge test and attitude scale were administered to

70 participants at the end of a Pre Cana Conference in Winter

Park, Florida, in March 1976. A questionnaire was added to

the instruments to solicit information from the participants

about the items and the process (Appendix VIII).

Comments were made on two terms, and one of the statements

on the knowledge test. The terms "confer," and "sacrament" in

Question 32 were not understood by four participants. Question

40 was considered ambiguous by three other participants. These

two questions were subsequently eliminated. The participants

had no difficulty with the format or in following directions.

Though the participants were delayed 20 to 25 minutes, there

was no overt demonstration of negative feelings.

Questions that were answered correctly by more than 63 (90

percent), or less than 15 (20 percent) of the participants, were

eliminated from the knowledge test. There were nine of these

questions. Another question was eliminated because it was

ambiguous. The final test has 30 questions (See Appendix VIII).

A reliability of 0.41 was established by the Kuder-Richardson

Formula 20 (Spearman-Brown correction).

The attitude scales were administered twice to 24 members

of the Newman Club, a Catholic organization at the University

of Florida for the purpose of establishing test-retest relia-

bility. There was a two week period between administrations.

A test-retest reliability coefficient of 0.85 (Pearson Product-

Moment coeffieient of correlation) was established for the

attitude scale (See Appendix VII).

Analysis of Data

A t test was used to test for significant differences

between the means of the experimental and control groups for

both the knowledge test and attitude scale.

A series of two by two analyses of variance was used to

test for significant differences or interactions between the

means of the experimental and control groups on the following


1. sex (male or female)

2.- couple's religion (mixed or nonmixed)

3. parent's religion (mixed or nonmixed)

4. parents' marital status (divorced or not divorced)

5. attendance (voluntary or involuntary)

6. previous marriage education (yes or no)

7. previous sex education (yes or no)

8. formal engagement (yes or no)

for both the knowledge and attitude scales.

A two by four analysis of variance was used to test for

significant differences or interactions between the means of

the experimental and control groups on rate of church attendance

for both the knowledge and attitude scales.

Pearson product moment correlations were used to test for

significant relationships between scores on both the knowledge

and attitude scales and the variables of age, years of education,

and years of Catholic education.

The 0.05 level of significance was used for all analyses.

Since a significant F ratio was found for the main effect due

to rate of churchattendance, the Neuman-Keuls multiple

comparison was used to determine where the significant

differences were.


The data were gathered according to the procedures described

in Chapter III. Demographic information was obtained from 82

persons during preregistration. There were 40 participants

(20 couples) in the experimental group. All but one couple

had perfect attendance. This couple did not attend when the

instruments were being administered and were not included in

the study. The other 19 couples were administered the attitude

scale and the knowledge test.

There were 42 persons preregistered for the control group,

20 couples, and 2 singles. Two couples did not attend on the

evenings the instruments were being administered. The system

of using the last four digits of the participants' social

security numbers was quite effective. There were no errors

among the participants in the experimental group. The digits

on one of the test instruments returned by the control group

did not match the digits on any of the questionnaires. Matching

was made on the basis that the wrong number had to represent a

non-Catholic female who was attending with a Catholic male.

That left a total of 38 in the control group. Two of these

were singles. Since there were no singles in the experimental

group the researcher decided to use only the data gathered from

the 18 couples in the control group.

Table 3 presents the religious affiliation of the partici-

pants for both the experimental and control group.

Table 3

Religion of Participants


Catholic 65.8 (25) 72.2 (26)
Non-Catholic 34.2 (13) 27.8 (10)
Total 100.0 (38) 100.0 (36)

All but three non-Catholics were Protestant. One was

"other" and two were of the Jewish faith. Of the latter two,

one was represented in each of the groups. There was only one

black participant and he was one of the singles whose data was

not included in the analyses. There was a slightly higher pro-

portion of Catholics in the control group.

Table 4 gives the breakdown of the types of marriage the

participants were entering. A "Catholic couple only," or a

"non-mixed religion marriage" is a marriage between two

Catholics. A mixed religion marriage is a marriage between

Catholic and a non-Catholic. There were 12 percent more mixed

religion couples in the experimental group than in the control


Table 4

Types of Marriages


Catholic Couples Only 32.0 (6) 44.0 (8) 37.8
Mixed Religion Couples 68.0 (15) 56.0 (10) 62.2
Total 100.0 (19) 100.0 (18) 100.0

The total percentage of mixed religion marriages was consistent

with the percentage of mixed religion marriages for Gainesville

and the diocese of St. Augustine for the years 1972-1975. Al-

though five participants in the experimental group and one in

the control group did not give their status as formally engaged,

they have been included as if they were intending to marry.

Table 5 gives a numerical breakdown of the experimental and

control groups on the type of marriage being entered on the

basis of sex and religion.

Table 5

Experimental and Control Groups
by Sex, Religion, and Type of Marriage

6 6- 6
2 2 2
11 11 11
6 6 6
11 11 11
2 2 2

19 19 25 13 12 26

8 8 8
3 3 3
7 7 7
8 8 8
7 7 7
3 3

18 18 26 10 16 20

37 37 51 23 28 46 TOTAL

There were more couples entering mixed religion marriages in

the experimental group than in the control group. Male

Catholics tended to enter religiously homogeneous marriages

(see Table 6).

Table 6

Sex of Catholics and Type of Marriage

Catholic Couples Only
Mixed Religion Couples


75.0 35.5
25.0 64.7


72.7 53.3
27.3 46.7

Almost three out of four (73.4 percent) of the male Catholics

intended to enter a religiously homogeneous marriage. More

than half (56.25 percent) of the female Catholics intended to

enter a religiously homogeneous marriage. Nearly half of the

Catholic females in the control group and almost two-thirds

in the experimental group intended to enter a mixed religion

marriage. Wagner and Brown (1965) found that Catholic females

were more willing to cross religious lines than Catholic men.

This would seem to be the case here.

Table 7

Age and Years of Education by Sex
for Experimental and Control Group

Male Mean
Female Mean
Total Mean


24.6 16.9
21.1 15.1
22.8 16.0


22.8 15.9
22.0 15.7
22.4 15.8

Years of education were calculated in the following manner:

A 12th grade education was equal to 12 years of education; 4

years of college were equal to 16 years; a master's degree was

equal to 17 years; and a Ph.D. was equal to 19 years. All

participants had at least a 12th grade education. All but one

had more than a 12th grade education.

The experimental group were, on the average, 0.4 years

older and had 0.2 years more education than the control group.

Whereas, the average male in the experimental group was older

and had more years of education than his counterpart in the

control group, the average female in the experimental group

was younger and had less education than her counterpart in the

control group. A further breakdown showed no consistent pattern

between the groups on the variables of age and education for

female Catholics on whether they were marrying Catholics or


The experimental and control groups were reasonably similar

on the variables of religion, type of marriage, age, years of

education, and also sex since there were equal numbers of males

and females in both groups. Table 17 and Table 33 also show a

marked similarity between the groups on the basis of voluntary

and involuntary attendance, and the rate of church attendance.

The system used in randomization proved quite effective.

To see if the treatment, the Pre Cana Conference, made

any difference in the scores of the experimental group and

control group, the mean scores of both these groups for the

attitude scale and knowledge test were subjected to a t-test.

The findings are presented in Table 8.

Table 8

t test Between the Means
of the experimental and Control Group
for the Attitude Scale and Knowledge Test


Attitude Score
Experimental 38 76.76 10.31 1.82 72 0.073
Control 36 72.22 11.16

Knowledge Score
Experimental 38 24.50 2.14 8.06 72 0.001*
Control 36 20.11 2.54

*p. <.01

There was a significant difference between the means of

the experimental and control group on the knowledge score.

In effect, the experimental group, as a result of exposure to

the treatment, i.e., the Pre Cana Conference, made a significant

gain. The change in attitude towards orthodoxy, though in a

positive direction for the experimental group, did not reach

significance at the .05 level.

Tables 9 through 16 analyze the mean scores of the experi-

mental and control group for the attitude scale and knowledge

test on the bases of sex and the type of marriage being entered

into by the participants. The following table, Table 9,

presents the mean attitude scale scores for both groups.

Table 9

Mean Attitude Scale Scores for Experimental and
Control Group on the Basis of Sex


Experimental Group 76.76 (38)
Female 79.10 (19)
Male 74.42 (19)
Control Group 72.22 (36)
Female 72.78 (18)
Male 71.67 (18)

Females scored higher than males in both the experimental and

control groups. Females therefore tended to be more orthodox.

However, unlike the male composition of the groups, there were

far more Catholic females than non-Catholic females, 17 versus

2, and 15 versus 3, in the experimental and control groups,

respectively. Of the males there were 8 versus 11, and 11

versus 7, in the experimental and control groups, respectively.

The predominance of Catholics in the female group may, therefore

have caused the higher scores for females. An analysis of

variance was used to test for differences between the attitude

scale means of the groups on the basis of sex.

Table 10

Analysis of Variance Testing
Between the Attitude Scale Means
of the Experimental and Control Group
on the Basis of Sex


Sex 160.55 1 160.55 1.39 0.240
Group 381.19 1 381.19 3.50 0.070
Interaction 59.00 1 59.00 0.51 0.999
TOTAL 8676.21 73 118.85

There were no significant differences between the mean scores

of the males and females and no significant difference between

the groups.

Table 11 presents the mean knowledge test scores on the

basis of sex.

Table 11

Mean Knowledge Test Scores for Experimental and
Control Group on the Basis of Sex

Experimental Group
Control Group





The mean scores are the reverse of those on the attitude scale

in that males scored higher than females.

Table 12 presents an analysis of variance that tested for

differences between these scores.

Table 12

Analysis of Variance
Between the Knowledge Test Means
of the Experimental and Control Group
on the Basis of Sex


Sex 0.34 1 0.34 0.06 0.899
Group 356.09 1 556.09 63.17 0.001*
Interaction 1.133 1 0.13 0.02 0.999
TOTAL 751.14 73 10.290

*p. <.01

There was a highly significant difference between the groups,

but not on the basis of sex. The Pre Cana Conference, as

shown by the significant difference between the mean scores

of the experimental and control group on the knowledge test,

was effective in achieving one of its objectives, i.e.,

imparting knowledge.

Table 13 presents the mean attitude scale scores on the

basis of non-mixed and mixed religion marriages.

Table 13

Mean Attitude Scale Scores
for Experimental and Control Group
on the Basis of Non-Mixed and Mixed Religion Marriages


Experimental Group 76.76 (38)
Non-Mixed Rel. Marr. 79.17 (12)
Mixed Rel. Marr. 75.65 (16)
Control Group 72.22 (36)
Non-Mixed Rel. Marr. 73.75 (16)
Mixed Rel. Marr. 71.00 (20)

Since only Catholics were entering non-mixed religion marriages,

it might be expected that their mean scores would be higher on

the attitude scale than those entering mixed religion marriages

where only half of the latter would be Catholic. This was the

case, though the difference was less obvious in the control

group. The analysis of variance between these means is

presented in Table 14.

Table 14

Analysis of Variance Between the Attitude Scale Means
of the Experimental and Control Group
on the Basis of Non-Mixed and Mixed Religion Marriages


Rel. Marr. 166.05 1 166.05 1.45 0.254
Group 443.54 1 443.54 3.82 0.052*
Interaction 2.48 1 2.48 0.02 0.999
TOTAL 8676.23 73 118.85

*P. <.05

There was a significant difference between the experimental and

control group but not between the means of the participants

entering non-mixed or mixed religion marriages. The experimen-

tal group was more orthodox, therefore the conference affected

their attitudes. Table 15 presents the mean knowledge test


Table 15

Mean Knowledge Scores
for Experimental and Control Group
on the Basis of Non-Mixed or Mixed Religion Marriages


Experimental Group 24.50 (38)
Non-Mixed Rel. Marr. 25.58 (12)
Mixed Rel. Marr. 24.00 (26)
Control Group 20.11 (36)
Non-Mixed Rel. Marr. 19.69 (16)
Mixed Rel. Marr. 20.45 (20)

Participants entering mixed religion marriages in the control

group scored higher than those entering non-mixed religion

marriages. The reverse was the case in the experimental group.

These scores may indicate that those entering non-mixed

religion marriages, i.e., the homogeneous couples, may have

paid more attention to the content of the sessions.

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