Most marriages are “null” because the people who enter them do not know what they are doing, Pope Francis has claimed.
During some impromptu remarks in Rome this week, the Pontiff claimed that we live in “the culture of the provisional” and insisted that people do not fully appreciate what a lifetime commitment entails.
As a result of this, “the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null”, he continued. Many people say “yes, for the rest of my life!” when they begin married life but “they don’t know what they are saying”. Although they “have good will … they don’t know”.
People do not appreciate that marriage is supposed to be “indissoluble”, that “it’s for your entire life” and can sometimes be difficult, he said.
Pope Francis noted that some couples “prefer to cohabitate” but they should not be asked why they have made this choice. Instead, society should “help them to mature, help fidelity to mature”.
The Pontiff also recalled his time as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires in his home country of Argentina. He refused to perform so-called ‘shotgun weddings’ when the prospective bride was pregnant. In those circumstances, he would question the couple’s level of consent. However, he said that some of the couples he refused got married two or three years later when they had a better understanding of the commitment involved. He would see “them entering the church, father, mother and child in hand”.
Earlier this year, the Pope said that the Catholic Church should be more forgiving of people who have divorced because “no one can be condemned forever”.