Pope Francis: Most marriages today are invalid

Updated by  on June 17, 2016 to include a clarification by the Vatican: Pope Francis approved a revision to the official transcript to say that “a portion” of sacramental marriages are null, instead of “the great majority.”

Pope Francis said Thursday that many sacramental marriages today are not valid, because couples do not enter into them with a proper understanding of permanence and commitment.

While he initially said in unscripted comments that “the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null,” he later approved a revision of these remarks.

When the Vatican released its official transcript of the encounter the following day, they had changed the comment to say that “a portion of our sacramental marriages are null.”

In the Vatican blog “Il sismografo,” Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said that this change is a revision approved by the Pope himself.

“When they touch on subjects of a certain importance, the revised text is always submitted to the Pope himself,” Fr. Lombardi said. “This is what happened in this case, so the published text was expressly approved by the Pope.”

 

Pope Francis said Thursday that the great majority of sacramental marriages today are not valid, because couples do not enter into them with a proper understanding of permanence and commitment.

“We live in a culture of the provisional,” the Pope said in impromptu remarks June 16. After addressing the Diocese of Rome’s pastoral congress, he held a question-and-answer session.

A layman asked about the “crisis of marriage” and how Catholics can help educate youth in love, help them learn about sacramental marriage, and help them overcome “their resistance, delusions and fears.”

The Pope answered from his own experience.

“I heard a bishop say some months ago that he met a boy that had finished his university studies, and said ‘I want to become a priest, but only for 10 years.’ It’s the culture of the provisional. And this happens everywhere, also in priestly life, in religious life,” he said.

“It’s provisional, and because of this the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null. Because they say “yes, for the rest of my life!” but they don’t know what they are saying. Because they have a different culture. They say it, they have good will, but they don’t know.”

He spoke of his encounter with a woman in Buenos Aires who “reproached” him. She said that priests study for the priesthood for years and can get permission to leave the priesthood to marry and have a family. For the laity, this woman said, “we have to do the sacrament for our entire lives, and indissolubly, to us laity they give four (marriage preparation) conferences, and this is for our entire life.”

Pope Francis said that marriage preparation is a problem, and that marital problems are also linked to social situations surrounding weddings.

He recounted his encounter with a man engaged to be married who was looking for a church that would complement his fiancée’s dress and would not be far from a restaurant.

“It’s social issue, and how do we change this? I don’t know,” the Pope said.

He noted that as Archbishop of Buenos Aires he had prohibited marriages in the case of “shotgun weddings” where the prospective bride was pregnant. He did this on the grounds there was a question of the spouses’ free consent to marry.

“Maybe they love each other, and I’ve seen there are beautiful cases where, after two or three years they got married,” he said. “And I saw them entering the church, father, mother and child in hand. But they knew well (what) they did.”

Pope Francis attributed the marriage crisis to people who “don’t know what the sacrament is” and don’t know “the beauty of the sacrament.”

“They don’t know that it’s indissoluble, they don’t know that it’s for your entire life. It’s hard,” the Pope said.

He added that a majority of couples attending marriage prep courses in Argentina typically cohabitated.

“They prefer to cohabitate, and this is a challenge, a task. Not to ask ‘why don’t you marry?’ No, to accompany, to wait, and to help them to mature, help fidelity to mature.”

He said that in Argentina’s northeast countryside, couples have a child and live together. They have a civil wedding when the child goes to school, and when they become grandparents they “get married religiously.”

“It’s a superstition, because marriage frightens the husband. It’s a superstition we have to overcome,” the Pope said. “I’ve seen a lot of fidelity in these cohabitations, and I am sure that this is a real marriage, they have the grace of a real marriage because of their fidelity, but there are local superstitions, etc.”

“Marriage is the most difficult area of pastoral work,” he said.

Here’s a helpful analysis from Fr Zuhlsdorf 

Go here for Dr Joseph Shaw’s reaction

LifeSiteNews commentary

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24 Responses to Pope Francis: Most marriages today are invalid

  1. And so, a lot of people are praying these days: “How long, Lord, are You going to punish us with this pope? What have we done to deserve such a prelate? When will it stop? When will You give us a worthy pope? Dear God, defend Your Church against the confusion, the errors, the destruction and ravages of this pontificate.”

  2. lorigreer says:

    These words from the Pope echo my sentiments that we live in a world of little or no commitment. I am not Roman Catholic but I like the teachings of this Pope.

  3. The problem here is that the English translation contradicts the Italian Vatican Transcript…

  4. toadspittle says:

    “What have we done to deserve such a prelate? “
    We’ve written a lot of tripe on CP&S, for one thing. Just ask a friend, Robert John.

  5. johnhenrycn says:

    Can you elaborate, THR? A nutshell summary if you’re pressed for time. Good to see you again.

  6. mmvc says:

    “It’s a superstition, because marriage frightens the husband. It’s a superstition we have to overcome,” the Pope said. “I’ve seen a lot of fidelity in these cohabitations, and I am sure that this is a real marriage, they have the grace of a real marriage because of their fidelity, but there are local superstitions, etc.”

    I’d like to know if this paragraph is correctly translated, because if any of my ‘cohabiting’ Catholic relatives read it, they would probably view it as an affirmation of their situation.

  7. Robert says:

    Henry Tudor would love this Pope

  8. John says:

    mmve,
    Should we instead condemn Catholic cohabiting couples ?

  9. JabbaPapa says:

    oh deary me these Pope-bashing news reports based on mistranslations and lies do get tedious …

    —–

    The Pope did NOT say “the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null”.

    http://www.farodiroma.it/2016/06/16/chiesa-non-ghettizzi-nessuno-ma-segua-lesempio-di-don-mazzolari/

    “Noi viviamo una cultura del provvisorio, un vescovo alcuni mesi fa ha ricevuto un ragazzo che gli ha detto: “io voglio diventare sacerdote ma per dieci anni”. Il provvisorio c’è ovunque e per questo una grande maggioranza dei nostri matrimoni sono nulli, loro dicono sì per tutta la vita ma non sanno cosa dicono perché hanno un’altra cultura.

    “nostri” here does NOT mean “our Catholic sacramental”, it means more generally “our” as in “our current society”. Reinforced BTW by his phrase that “they have a different culture” (ie a non-Catholic one).

    The word “sacramental” is not even present in the sentence !!!

  10. johnhenrycn says:

    There you go again, John Kehoe, with one of your jejune rhetoricals.

    …and her name is mmvc, although I confess to sometimes calling her MMVC.

  11. johnhenrycn says:

    There you go again, Jabba, giving us the straight goods. Thank you.

  12. mmvc says:

    Why, what a strange suggestion, John!
    Our Blessed Lord condemned neither the woman caught in adultery nor the one at the well, so why should we condemn cohabiting couples or indeed anyone? Crucially though, Our Lord did instruct repeatedly to “sin no more”. Wouldn’t it be more salutary for these couples if they were to hear Christ’s clear and timeless teaching from His representative on earth rather than being praised for their *’fidelity’ in marriage-like grace-filled cohabitations?

    *assuming, of course, that the translation of this EWTN/CNA article is accurate.

  13. toadspittle says:

    “..as we know, people can and do enter into valid marriages without knowing fully what they are entering into. “
    Opines Father Zee, who also believes in killing people with pressure cookers. You have to go a long way to find anyone who did enter marriage, “..knowing fully what they are entering into. “
    If they did, there would be precious few marriages. And how many of us go to work “knowing fully what we are entering into” that day? Be no fun if we did – would it? “

  14. JabbaPapa says:

    oh — I see from the official transcript that the “sacramentali” word is present there … 😦

    So we’ve now got three different versions of the same remarks.

    Official transcript : “E per questo una parte dei nostri matrimoni sacramentali sono nulli, perché loro [gli sposi] dicono: “Sì, per tutta la vita”, ma non sanno quello che dicono, perché hanno un’altra cultura.”

    Unofficial transcript : “e per questo una grande maggioranza dei nostri matrimoni sono nulli, loro dicono sì per tutta la vita ma non sanno cosa dicono perché hanno un’altra cultura.”

    Initially reported extract : “E per questo una grande maggioranza dei nostri matrimoni sacramentali sono nulli, loro dicono sì per tutta la vita ma non sanno cosa dicono perché hanno un’altra cultura.”

  15. John says:

    mmvc. My question was seeking the view of those who, knowing better than the Vicar of Christ on earth, disagree with Pope Francis’s less judgmental attitude to cohabiting couples as to what they themselves from their higher moral ground would do (assuming that the translation of the article is correct).

  16. johnhenrycn says:

    Updated by CNA/EWTN News on June 17, 2016 to include a clarification by the Vatican:

    So when can we expect an upper update from JabbaPapa? Frankly, Scarlett, even though my default position concerning His Holiness is one of forbearance, kindness and respect – and always will be – I’m getting upset with these extemporaneous expulsions of CO2 from the Holy See.

  17. johnhenrycn says:

    “oh – I see” quoth Jabba in his upper update with a sad face😦
    Frankly, Scarlett, please spare me an upper, upper update.

  18. johnhenrycn

    Good to see you again as. Now as of writing my comment above, the Pope’s word were “Grande Maggioranza”, the Italian sources read “molti” and the Vatican transcript read “E per questo una parte”. This has been explained by the Vatican as a Papal “approved a revision to the official transcript”.

    The second point where I would argue the translation doesn’t match up is “e sono sicuro che questo è un matrimonio vero, hanno la grazia del matrimonio, proprio per la fedeltà che hanno” which is immediately followed by “Ma ci sono superstizioni locali” “but here [or “there”] are local superstitions” after which he goes on to say a sentence or so later, “Torno sul serio: la preparazione al matrimonio, la si deve fare con vicinanza, senza spaventarsi, lentamente. E’ un cammino di conversione, tante volte.” So taken in context, the translation doesn’t make much sense. I don’t claim to be an expert, but this is what I came up with.

  19. jhcn
    Pardon the typo at the beginning of my reply, I meant to say “Good to see you again as well” although I’m rather feeling unwell at the moment.

  20. johnhenrycn says:

    All the best, THR. As with many other effusions these days from the Eternal City, I’m no wiser than I was at 19:06 hrs (Rome time) on March 13th, 2013 for having the benefit of this latest one.

  21. johnhenrycn says:

    John Kehoe (20:05) says – “My question was seeking the view of those who, knowing better than the Vicar of Christ on earth, disagree with Pope Francis’s less judgmental attitude to cohabiting couples as to what they themselves from their higher moral ground would do…””

    A sham, straw man, jejune rhetorical. Who here – “knowing better than the Vicar of Christ” – are you referring to ? I’ve not got a whole lot of time left tonight. Make it quick, counsel.

  22. mmvc says:

    LifeSiteNews juxtaposed Pope Francis’ words on cohabitation with those of the CCC and of Pope St John Paul ll:

    Regarding cohabitation, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

    2391 Some today claim a “right to a trial marriage” where there is an intention of getting married later. However firm the purpose of those who engage in premature sexual relations may be, “the fact is that such liaisons can scarcely ensure mutual sincerity and fidelity in a relationship between a man and a woman, nor, especially, can they protect it from inconstancy of desires or whim.” Carnal union is morally legitimate only when a definitive community of life between a man and woman has been established. Human love does not tolerate “trial marriages.” It demands a total and definitive gift of persons to one another.

    Pope St. John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio spelled out the harm of cohabitation. The various factors leading to situations of cohabitation, he says,

    …presents the Church with arduous pastoral problems, by reason of the serious consequences deriving from them, both religious and moral (the loss of the religious sense of marriage seen in the light of the Covenant of God with His people; deprivation of the grace of the sacrament; grave scandal), and also social consequences (the destruction of the concept of the family; the weakening of the sense of fidelity, also towards society; possible psychological damage to the children; the strengthening of selfishness).

  23. Robert says:

    Thank you mmvc

    We see the seeds being sown here that blur the Faith.
    There is a difference between the individual penitent sinner’s (lost sheep, lamb) and the Flock and God’s commandments

  24. John says:

    Johnhenrycn You will easily find the persons I refer to on this page. If i name them directly the moderator will say I am being rude and will probably delete I only have limited rights of comment here. Sorry for delay- time zone differences.

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