So Pope Francis in unofficial off-the-cuff remarks says that the majority of marriages are invalid because people don’t get what marriage is. Those off-the-cuff remarks were quickly amended and are now the official off-the-cuff remarks, whatever that means.
I was reminded of a speech that Pope Francis gave to the Roman Rota about marriage on the occasion of the beginning of the judicial year in January 2016 (not very long ago). Those were not off-the-cuff remarks. The Pope used a text, from which he read. HERE
Let’s read Francis through Francis.
In his scripted (not off-the-cuff) remarks to the Rota, Pope Francis said:
“It is worth clearly reiterating that the essential component of marital consent is not [not] the quality of one’s faith, which according to unchanging doctrine can be undermined only on the plane of the natural (cf. CIC c. 1055 §§ 1,2). Indeed, the habitus fidei is infused at the moment of Baptism and continues to have a mysterious influence in the soul, even when faith has not been developed and psychologically speaking seems to be absent. It is not uncommon that couples are led to true marriage by the instinctus naturae and at the moment of its celebration they have a limited awareness of the fullness of God’s plan. Only later in the life of the family do they come to discover all that God, the Creator and Redeemer, has established for them. [NB…] A lack of formation in the faith and error with respect to the unity, indissolubility [!] and sacramental dignity of marriage invalidate marital consent only if they influence the person’s will (cf. CIC c. 1099). It is for this reason that errors regarding the sacramentality of marriage must be evaluated very attentively.”
So, in January 2016 Pope Francis said is decidedly NOT off-the-cuff remarks, and precisely to an audience concerned with these matters, that lack of understanding of the ends of marriage and it’s indissolubility does NOT invalidate a marriage. Only when lack of formation and error affect the person’s will would they possibly, and not necessarily, invalidate marriage. Even so, marriages are assumed to be valid until they are reasonably demonstrated to be otherwise.
Put these different sets of remarks, those which were scripted and read, and those which were off-the-cuff (even in their amended form) in the scales. Which one’s will we accept as being the real deal? Pope Francis might personally have some odd notions about who is married and who isn’t, but when delivering an official address on the matter, his words were clear.
Not understanding – at the time the marriage rite takes place – the ends of marriage or that marriage is indissoluble all the way to the death of one of the spouses does not invalidate the marriage. So says Pope Francis – on a good day.