Pope Francis’s Statements on Marriage

This is Pope Francis’ original statement on sacramental marriages:

“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.”

“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.”

The Vatican has corrected this statement, and the pope has approved of the revision, in which the troubling portion now says:

“a portion of our sacramental marriages are null.”

This revised statement ultimately says nothing new.  Yes, some presumed sacramental marriages are null and void.  That’s to state the obvious.  It’s simply the nature of a sacrament that various circumstances can render it invalid, so that there is no sacrament, in spite of the presence of some of the elements or appearances of a sacrament.

It’s also true, as the pope explained, that many people now attempt to enter into marriage with a lackadaisical attitude and an ignorance regarding the indissoluble nature of the sacrament.  Hence, although they ostensibly celebrate a wedding, nevertheless, their views on the contractual and covenantal aspects of marriage are so far from the true nature of Christian marriage as to render their vows invalid.  Again, this adds nothing new to the Church’s teaching on Holy Matrimony or her awareness of the deplorable state of it in the modern world.

What is troubling, however, is that it appears to be the pope’s personal view that the majority of Catholic marriages are invalid.   If a marriage does not actually exist, than the grace of the sacrament is also absent.  This is a shocking claim, but it is only his opinion, and it must not be confused with the actual teaching of the Church.  Nor could he know this to be the case with any certainty.  Only a marriage tribunal or a bishop, after making a thorough investigation into an individual case, can make a judgment regarding marital validity; and even then, such a judgment is not infallible.  Nevertheless, if this does not make every wedded Catholic question their own marriage, then I don’t know what could.  Should I not ponder the supposed likelihood that my own marriage might belong to that alleged majority of Catholic marriages spoiled by invalid consent?

Even more, why should all the doubt circulate around marriage alone?  If we have reached a point in history in which most Catholics are incapable of entering into the most fundamental and essential relationship – that of marriage – then we should logically begin to suspect trouble regarding the other sacraments as well.  Why should we not be equally concerned that perhaps many of our priests lack the proper matter, form, or intention when offering Holy Mass, so as to render it invalid?   Or that their sacramental absolutions are invalid?  Or perhaps even their ordinations?  Why does the possibility of invalidity come to a screeching halt with our marriages?  It seems rather strange to hold that only the faithful have had a poor Catholic formation these past few decades, and not the clergy.  After all, our view of Christian marriage is the result of the formation our pastors have given us through their teaching and preaching.

The confusion caused by the above quotations cannot remain isolated and affect only one sacrament; it will trickle down and affect the other sacraments also.  Reason and consistency should have us all wondering about the larger picture of the Church’s sacramental life.  What else might have been invalid?

Folks, know the faith so that you can remain faithful.  Study the Bible and the Catechism, and pray, pray, pray.  Do not let the steady flow of confusion from Rome mislead you or spoil your love for God, the Church, the papacy, or the eternal truths of the Gospel.  We will survive this, by the grace of God.  But study the faith, or you may lose it.

 

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18 thoughts on “Pope Francis’s Statements on Marriage

  1. I’m not in the business so I don’t know, but I once heard a Dr. in the mental health sciences refer to a person as reckless, as if it were a diagnosis and not just an opinion. Whatever the case, our Holy Father has a serious case of it.

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  2. Let’s run an experiment to assess just how bad is the current situation in the Church (as if we don’t already know!). Take the pope’s recent comments on cohabitation, find your typical uniformed Catholic, read the remarks to him or her, and then ask them to guess who made the comments. Objective enough? And after the person has answered with a list of radicals leftists from Hollywood and the Democrat party, then we’ll have a sense of just how bad is our present situation.

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  3. Michael –

    I think it would set a dangerous precedent for the pope to resign due to pressure. This could always be turned against us in the future, when lukewarm and liberal Catholics could insist a good orthodox pope resign. No, we have to let this play out.

    Either the cardinals would have to take it upon themselves, or a future pope, with or without a council, would have to condemn him. But it wouldn’t be the first time. The Church has a short list of very bad popes.

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    1. Right.

      Personally, I expect the problem will continue. The pope’s opinions are radical. I don’t see how anyone can deny this. It’s not that he’s constantly misspeaking. No, he’s saying exactly what he thinks, and that’s what is most shocking.

      As for interventions, – my expectations of the princes of the Church are as low as they could go. With very few exceptions, we have an institution full of yes-men, and nothing great happens by yes-men.

      Remember, when Protestantism first struck England – which had been Catholic for a thousand years – only one bishop remained faithful, while all the others submitted to King Henry VIII. One bishop – St. John Fisher – who paid for his orthodoxy with his head. Some things never change.

      Meanwhile, we must hunker down and remain faithful. And pray for Pope Francis and the Church in general. God has not forgotten His Bride, even though we may some times feel as if He has. He is with us and is doing something mighty but mysterious that serves His purposes and our salvation. Just remain faithful, no matter what.

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    1. I’ll just give you the passages from the Catechism:

      Capital Punishment

      2266 The State’s effort to contain the spread of behaviors injurious to human rights and the fundamental rules of civil coexistence corresponds to the requirement of watching over the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime. the primary scope of the penalty is to redress the disorder caused by the offense. When his punishment is voluntarily accepted by the offender, it takes on the value of expiation. Moreover, punishment, in addition to preserving public order and the safety of persons, has a medicinal scope: as far as possible it should contribute to the correction of the offender.

      2267 The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude, presupposing full ascertainment of the identity and responsibility of the offender, recourse to the death penalty, when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor.
      “If, instead, bloodless means are sufficient to defend against the aggressor and to protect the safety of persons, public authority should limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.
      “Today, in fact, given the means at the State’s disposal to effectively repress crime by rendering inoffensive the one who has committed it, without depriving him definitively of the possibility of redeeming himself, cases of absolute necessity for suppression of the offender ‘today … are very rare, if not practically non-existent.'[John Paul II, Evangelium vitae 56.]

      In other words, Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition have always recognized capital punishment as morally licit. But today, the Church prefers to find other ways to redress grave injustices, if possible.

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  4. It’s interesting that the Church has always avoided directly endorsing political candidates; and yet, the criticisms of Trump, coming from both the Vatican and the American bishops, have been loud and clear, while the comments about Hillary Clinton are nowhere to be found. I think it’s another sign – I would call it further proof – that the Church has drifted from teaching doctrines and morals to placing the emphasis on social teachings. This could be a prudent strategy – asserting authentically Catholic teaching on social issues, but it’s not what is happening. Instead, such sound social teaching has been replaced with a very different sort of “doctrine,” something quite foreign, mainstream, and lacking in a clear religiosity. This comes at a dangerous time, when doctrinal and moral relativism are the new norm and radical progressivism, with its inherent hatred for religion, is rising everywhere.

    The Church is meant to be a prophet ever calling us back to God and to the ways of God. Instead, she has become just another redundant voice whining for a justice that has actually been defined by a godless world. If this is how she “makes nice” with the world following the disgusting clerical sex scandals, then someone else needs to take the steering wheel, because it’s a very very bad strategy.

    You don’t apologize to another person by becoming that person. Doing so is not to apologize, but to endorse.

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    1. The Holy Trinity Parish talks start late each year because of some sort of parish fair. The date is early October – as usual, the first and third Thursday evenings. I’ll certainly post here when I get the exact day. I’m glad to hear you’re still interested.

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  5. I obviously know only as much about the China situation as I can read. But two things strike me. First, any degree of compromise with the preaching of the Gospel results in “another Gospel.” That’s what we hear in the American Church – only those portions of the Gospel that are palatable to American secular liberal democratic standards. After five decades of this Americanized Gospel, American Catholics will now tolerate nothing else, and when they do hear the fullness of the Gospel, or a portion of it they haven’t before heard, they’re scandalized. Next thing you know, a priest has been moved.

    And second, it is always foolish for the Church to be, or even to appear, closely associated with a government. This makes her seem – and indeed, it often has been the case – as if she is a part of the establishment, the aloof elite, the privileged few, the status quo that is so distant from the common folk. Once the Church degenerates into an aristocratic association closely tied to the establishment, she abandons her proper identity as the radical voice of truth to all and becomes merely another part of the world, a dull voice that only echoes what others have said.

    Catholics – even of the traditional type – often believe that the Church really needs to provide only the sacraments for the choir. As if having freedom of worship is more than enough. Just leave us to do our religious thing in our big buildings, and we’ll feel happy and fulfilled. This is such a warped view of the Church’s mission that it’s unworthy of the name “Christian”. The Church’s first and foremost duty is to instruct the ignorant with the doctrines and morals of Christ, and thus, to form believers fit to be baptized. But the preaching comes first. And as a part of this same mission, she must also make the principles of the Gospel known to the public, and resist those laws, policies, and practices that contradict the Gospel. In other words, not freedom of worship, but much more, freedom of religion.

    I hate to say it, but the Catholic Church is at her best when she’s moderately persecuted, when being a true Catholic comes with a price. I’m not saying the Church needs to be ever on the edge of extermination, but she definitely must beware of all establishments that offer her an alleged freedom of movement at the expense of the freedom to preach an uncompromised Gospel to all people. That certainly seems to be the sweet treat the Chinese government is offering the Catholic Patriotic Association. So, I’ve always agreed with cardinal Zen’s criticisms of the Vatican’s attitude on this.

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