Pope emphasizes 'indissolubility of Christian matrimony'


Vatican City, Apr 25, 2014 / 02:48 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- **Pope Francis on April 25 stressed the need for bishops and priests to give a “consistent witness” to Christian moral teaching, including the lifelong nature of Christian marriage, and to teach these truths “with great compassion.”

"The holiness and indissolubility of Christian matrimony, often disintegrating under tremendous pressure from the secular world, must be deepened by clear doctrine and supported by the witness of committed married couples,” Pope Francis said.

“Christian matrimony is a lifelong covenant of love between one man and one woman; it entails real sacrifices in order to turn away from illusory notions of sexual freedom and in order to foster conjugal fidelity.”**

The Pope’s remarks came in a meeting with bishops from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Swaziland, who were making their routine ad limina visit to the Holy Father, Vatican Radio reports.

Pope Francis noted the pastoral challenges presented by marital separation and divorce, even in Christian families, and the lack of a stable home for many children.

“We also observe with great concern, and can only deplore, an increase in violence against women and children,” he continued. “All these realities threaten the sanctity of marriage, the stability of life in the home and consequently the life of society as a whole.”

He stressed the need to continue “indispensable” marriage preparation programs that give “new hope” to young people for their futures as husbands, wives, fathers and mothers.

**Pope Francis’ comments follow media reports about the contents of a recent phone call he allegedly made to a remarried divorced woman in Argentina. The woman claimed that the Pope told her she could receive Holy Communion.

Catholic teaching recognizes the nature of matrimony as indissoluble, so a new marriage can only be contracted if the first union was found to be invalid. Those who have entered a new union without a recognition of annulment may not be admitted to Communion.

On April 24, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said that the media coverage of the woman cannot be confirmed as reliable and is “a source of misunderstanding and confusion.”**

In his comments to the southern African bishops, Pope Francis also noted the damage caused by abortion and an attitude of disrespect for life.

“Abortion compounds the grief of many women who now carry with them deep physical and spiritual wounds after succumbing to the pressures of a secular culture which devalues God’s gift of sexuality and the right to life of the unborn,” he said.

In addition, the Holy Father acknowledged the bishops’ reports that some Catholics are turning away from the Church to other groups, as well as a decline in family size that is affecting the number of vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

“In this sea of difficulties, we bishops and priests must give a consistent witness to the moral teaching of the Gospel,” he said. “I am confident that you will not weaken in your resolve to teach the truth ‘in season and out of season’ (2 Tim 4), sustained by prayer and discernment, and always with great compassion.”

The Pope also recognized several other concerns of the southern Africa bishops, including the plight of refugees and migrants, dishonesty and corruption in society, and unemployment.

“Most of your people can identify at once with Jesus who was poor and marginalized, who had no place to lay his head,” he observed. “In addressing these pastoral needs, I ask you to offer, in addition to the material support which you provide, the greater support of spiritual assistance and sound moral guidance, remembering that the absence of Christ is the greatest poverty of all.”

Despite the challenges facing the bishops, the Pope praised their “flourishing parishes” and their efforts to train permanent deacons and lay catechists. He praised African clergy and vowed religious who served “God’s most vulnerable sons and daughters,” including widows, single mothers, the divorced, children at risk, and the region’s several million AIDS orphans.

“Truly the richness and joy of the Gospel is being lived and shared by Catholics with others around them,” the Pope said. “I pray that they will continue to persevere in building up the Lord’s Kingdom with their lives that testify to the truth, and with the work of their hands that ease the sufferings of so many.”

He encouraged the bishops to “rekindle the precious gift of faith so as to renew your dedicated service to God’s people!”

“May the saints of Africa sustain you by their intercession. May Our Lady of Africa be always at your side, and may she guide you as you share in the teaching, sanctifying and governing mission of Christ,” he concluded.

I dont like this pope in the slightest.

And why is that?

Plenty of people didn’t like Jesus in the slightest either. In the grand scheme of things your approval (or mine or anybody’s) could not matter less.

Nobody’s going to force you to like him.
you still need to pray for him.

This is what I was waiting to hear. A reaffirmation of Church teaching from the Holy Father on marriage. Who cares about what was ACTUALLY said in this alleged “phone conversation”…the faithful needed to hear this I do believe to put an end to the confusion. For now anyway, I am satisfied.

And I might add…it seems to me the Church in some areas of the Country could do a tad better educating couples planning on marriage. I remember the Pre Cana Conferences that couples were required to attend before marriage that were rather long in duration. I think some areas do better than others on marriage prep, but it used to be that couples COULD NOT even set a date without attending. And then after the Conferences and a date was set, they met again several times with their Parish Priest. After that there were several ( 3?) announcements in the Parish Bulletin. (Marriage Banns) Seems we have lost a bit of that. Marriage is very difficult today in our upside down society. The secular world is of course as everyone knows, making a mockery out of it. People must be taught that marriage is a VOCATION, that includes THREE PEOPLE. God, and the husband and wife. Sometimes in the world we live in Marriage is a more difficult vocation in some ways than even the Priesthood. If we are to have a healthier society with healthier families, we MUST educate couples on the true meaning of the sacrament and make sure they understand completely all that it entails, It may be beneficial to go back to some of the old ways of educating and waiting long enough before marriage.

Couldn’t agree more, well said :thumbsup:

I don’t think it can be denied that more and more Pope Francis is trending toward defending Church teaching (despite ongoing media confusion). I admit to being a little shaken by the earlier interviews, etc. (and the occasional hiccup here and there) but I am getting so I like and trust him more and more. I think he’s figured out and is taking on the confusion and mislabeling and is correcting it in his own kind, indirect way. Don’t know how much longer “the liberal Francis” will be in wide currency. This is a very good thing for the Church because, while more savvy, the Pope is still representing her orthodoxy with the same compassion and approachability. Not sure though he will ever entirely lose his Quixotic streak. :wink:

I agree, I think this was the response to the phone call controversy. Also, the news articles I have seen on this statement from Francis all mention the phone call controversy, so the Catholic news media seems to think the two are linked as well. For instance:


I have to ask, with the hundreds of thousands of Catholic marriages that take place every year all over the world, does the Church or Catholics in general not expect several to fail even though they were blessed by God. We are talking about human beings and even with them trying to work under the grace of God they are going to make mistake with their decision, especially when they are so young or have dated only a short time.

As Catholic we must expect divorce to happen and forgive their mistakes, but to ask a couple of 30 to say their marriage, their lives, their children are invalid is just not right.

But a marriage that isn’t valid just isn’t valid, no matter how long the couple have been together. Imagine your same 30-year couple discovered suddenly that they were biological brother and sister - well would anyone think the right thing to do was pretend they had had a valid marriage? Would such not imply that they were entitled to keep living together as husband and wife when that isn’t so?

The children and life the couple had together is never invalid. They were undertaken under the assumption that the marriage was valid. If later they discover that the marriage is invalid, it changes nothing about the life and children they shared while together.

If tomorrow, your parents told you that they just found out that you were given to them by mistake when you were born, and your birth certificate will be changed to show your bio parents? Does every minute that you loved them and treated them like your parents make that relationship invalid? No, it might make the legal status invalid, but never the relationship.


I think that, coming from a country in which the population is overwhelmingly Catholic, and where the damage of modernist thought has not yet had such a disastrous effect on society, Pope Francis was not aware in the beginning of how compelling was the need to declare the Truth early and often. He also was probably a bit naive about the media - or maybe he isn’t - maybe he was trying to start a dialogue. In any case, I think (and hope) you are right - that we will begin to see more of his orthodoxy shining through.

Tell that to the children - I don’t think it’s fair to ask children to take on such an abstract idea. Don’t get me wrong - I accept the Church’s teaching on divorce - came to the Church in large part because of it. But I do think that the position on requiring a declaration of nullity is insensitive to the children. Divorce is hard enough - and then to tell them that the marriage out of which they were created was void? Ouch! This is one of the reasons why I struggle so much with seeking an annulment (even though my unbelieving husband left me 9 years ago). And I am certainly not the only one who feels this way!

In my opinion, which is NOT above church teaching, would be to say that the marriage was invalid from the time of discontent between the husband and wife, not that the whole marriage is seen as invalid. As a child of divorce that does feel right or welcoming. It makes it seem like the marriage should have never taken place which of course would make it seem that they children which have result from that marriage should have never take place. You can restate it all you want, but that just make sense.

In your example, the marriage should seen as a loving valid marriage until that information was known. Anytime after that, no matter what that couple decided to do, I can understand must be seen as invalid by the Church.

Seeing as a couples life revolves around their marriage and children’s lives revolve around the decision and guidance of that married couple you can simply not separate it all. If you haven’t been through it, I am sorry you would simply not understand.

Even though my parents tried very hard for 5 year to mend their marriage, going to counselors and priest, they just could not raise us in a emotionally healthy home; in fact, waiting so long did a great deal of damage to all of us. After the divorce my mother made us feel like dirt because we came from a divorced home because the church was so non supportive at the time. We all not suffer with very low self esteem and anxiety even though we are all hard working, creative, well educated, polite helpful people. Not of us feels good about ourselves and I am the only one still invoved in the Catholic church.

But the validity of the marriage had nothing to do with the children. As has been said, when the parents got married, they (hopefully) thought it would last. All the Church is saying is that the conditions weren’t met for a valid marriage. (For example, if one of the spouses never really committed to being faithful, or if one of them wasn’t really “free” to make a decision to marry.) But it has nothing to do with the worth of the children.

Think of it like this: the Church has always taught that sexual relationships outside of marriage are sinful. That won’t change. Yet children are born of these relationships all the time. The sexual act outside of marriage is wrong, but the children themselves are a blessing. God can make good come of anything.

An invalid marriage is not a sin. If we do not think it is wrong for God to allow children to be born of sinful relationships, we certainly don’t think there is any judgement on children born to a married couple.

Sometimes a marriage should never have taken place. My brother-in-law was in a marriage that everyone knew would never last, and bets were being made at the wedding reception! (His ex-wife didn’t know the meaning of the word “faithful.”) They did have a child, though, and she’s a blessing. Rather like when children are born of a sexual union outside of a marriage; the sexual union should not have happened in that context, but God can make good of anything. The children are still a blessing.

And to add to that, the marriage itself, while maybe it should not have happened, is not sinful. It is presumed that people go into it assuming it will last. A sexual relationship out of marriage is sinful. So if we are not saying that children of inappropriate sexual relationships should not have been born, we are certainly not going to say that children of invalid marriages should not be born.

But discontent has nothing to do with the validity of a marriage. If it was ever valid, there is no annulment. There are certain criteria to meet, and if they are met, it is a valid marriage.

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