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Meditation 1315
Pope slags marriage

by: John Tyrrell

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Last week, Pope Francis made the astonishing assertion that the majority of marriages are invalid. My initial thought on seeing the headline was that the Pope was merely restating the ideas of the 19th century Bishop James Vincent Cleary who said Protestant marriage is legalized concubinage (See Meditation 907) indicating that non-Catholic marriages were not valid in his or God's eyes.

But no. My assumption was wrong. I found when I looked up the source of the statement, that Pope Francis was not talking about marriage outside of the Catholic Church. He was talking about marriages, properly conducted as a sacrament by Catholic clergy, within the church. He clearly stated: the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null.

The Vatican was quick to issue a revision to the official transcript of his remarks to change “the great majority” to “a portion.”

But still – how could he make such a claim?

“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.”

“Because they say ‘yes, for the rest of my life!’ but they don’t know what they are saying.”!!!

That’s it? Their marriages are invalid because they don’t really understand what a lifetime commitment means? But who really does?

It seems to me Meatloaf commented on the unforeseen consequences of a lifetime commitment far better than the Pope did in Paradise By The Dashboard Light.

I'll never break my promise or forget my vow
But God only knows what I can do right now
I'm praying for the end of time
It's all I can do (ooh, ooh)
I'm praying for the end of time
So I can end my time with you

If not completely understanding what you are getting into makes Catholic marriages invalid, then the Pope’s original words before they were hastily amended are correct - the great majority of Catholic sacramental marriages are null. There’d be very few that weren’t.

It seems to me that Pope Francis has greatly expanded the grounds for seeking an annulment from the Vatican. And he has undermined the supposed sanctity of a Catholic Church wedding.

Any Catholic who takes the words of the Pope seriously might wonder if there is any point to getting married in the Church if the Pope himself thinks most such marriages are invalid.

The Pope started off this week with a sermon on judging others. Apparently it isn’t Christian to judge others. Unless of course you are judging the validity of their Catholic marriage.


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