Pope calls for changes to marriage formation

A ‘permanent catechumenate’ for marriage formation is needed, Pope Francis told a gathering organised by Diocese of Rome and the Roman Rota. The Rota is the Church’s highest appellate court which handles marriage nullity cases.

A permanent catechumenate would guide couples beyond their marriage in preparation and celebration, into the first year of their life together, Francis told the audience of priests, deacons, and lay people.

The serious journey of preparation for Christian marriage, should not be “reduced to a few meetings” he said.

“Marriage is not just a ‘social’ event, but a true sacrament that involves an adequate preparation and a conscious celebration.

“The marriage bond, in fact, requires an engaged choice on the part of the engaged couple, which focuses on the will to build together something that must never be betrayed or abandoned.”

Francis said marriage preparation is best achieved through joint efforts by priests and married couples.

He stressed the importance and pre-eminence of the role of the parish priest.

Francis said often the roots of problems that come to light after the marriage has been celebrated.

Some of these relate to (previously unrecognised) immaturity.

Mostly the problems point to weakness of the Christian faith “and in the lack of ecclesial accompaniment, in the solitude in which the newlyweds are often left after the celebration of the wedding.

“Only when faced with everyday life together, which calls spouses to grow in a journey of self-giving and sacrifice, do some realize that they have not fully understood what they were getting into.”

Francis says the extended preparation and accompanying tine will help couples “learn to correspond to the grace and strength of God, and will also develop the ‘antibodies’ needed to face the inevitable moments of difficulty and fatigue in married and family life.”

At the same time more effective pastoral care will help couples acquire the tools and support to live their vocation.

“And this can only happen through a process of growth in the faith of the couples themselves,” Francis says.

If there are “serious problems” in a couple’s relationship, Francis says “it is necessary to help them to revive the faith and rediscover the grace of the Sacrament; and, in certain cases—to be evaluated with righteousness and inner freedom—to offer appropriate indications to undertake a process of nullity.”

Francis said people who realise theirs is not a true sacramental marriage and want to leave can get support from clergy and pastoral workers.

The support will include communicating legal norms and “above all in an attitude of listening and understanding,” Francis says.

In previous annual addresses to the Rota, Francis has insisted on the need for improvements to instruction for couples.


News category: World.

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