Pope Francis’ latest remarks on the majority of marriages being invalid

His Holiness the Pope does like an opportunity to talk, and he readily offers off-the-cuff remarks which, while at times interesting and entertaining and sometimes insightful or helpful – or not – are not moments when he is teaching for the Church in his role as Successor of Peter.  A lot of what we hear from the Holy Father doesn’t form part of his ordinary magisterium (e.g., daily Mass fervorini).

Last night I read a surprising account of some off-the-cuff remarks offered by Pope Francis on marriages.  He opined that most marriages today aren’t valid because people don’t understand very well what they are entering into.  Of course we know that people who don’t understand very well what they are entering into can and do validly contract marriage.  And so the Pope’s remarks give us pause.  We pause and reflect seriously about the sort of catechesis (the lousy catechesis) we have given people for decades and the less than optimal marriage preparation so many couples receive.  We are, hence, ready to get our noses to the grindstone and improve the situation because, as we know, people can and do enter into valid marriages without knowing fully what they are entering into.  After all, validity is one thing and having the graces that come with the sacrament of matrimony are another.

Now I direct your attention to the canon law blog of Ed Peters for some help with the Holy Father’s words:

The great majority of Christian marriages are valid

Last time a ranking prelate (Cdl. Kasper) opined that half of all marriages were null his attribution of such a reckless assertion to Pope Francis himself could be dismissed as hearsay, deflected as referring to marriage in general and not Christian marriage in particular, or at least minimized as describing merely ‘many’ or even ‘half’ of all marriages. But none of those qualifications can be applied to blunt the impact of the pope’s startling claim “the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null”.

If last time was bad, this time is very bad.

Consider: Marriage is that natural human relationship established by God as the normal way for nearly all adults to live most of their lives. God blesses marriage and assists married persons to live in accord with this beautiful state in life. When, moreover, baptized persons enter this quintessential human relationship, Christ adds the special graces of a sacrament and assists married Christians to live as signs of his everlasting spousal union with his Church.

To assert, then, that “the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null” is really to claim that the great majority of Christians have failed to enter the most natural of human states and have failed to effect between themselves the exact sacrament that Christ instituted to assist them in it. The collapse of human nature presupposed for such a social catastrophe and the massive futility of the Church’s sanctifying mission among her own faithful evidenced by such a debacle would be—well, it would be the matrimonial version of nuclear winter. I am at a loss to understand how anyone who knows anything about either could seriously assert that human nature is suddenly so corrupted and Christ’s sacraments are now so impotent as to have prevented “the great majority” of Christians from even marrying! How can anyone responsibly even posit such a dark and dismal claim, let alone demonstrate it?

But beyond the arresting scope of the claim that nullity is rampant, there is the debilitating effect that such a view can and doubtless will have on couples in difficult marriage situations. After all, if “the great majority” of Christian marriages are, as alleged by Francis, already null, then couples struggling in difficult marriages and looking for the bread of spiritual and sacramental encouragement may instead be offered stones of despair—‘your marriage is most likely null, so give up now and save everyone a lot of time and trouble.’

This is just a blog post so, simply invoking the same extensive credentials to speak on Catholic marriage law that I invoked two years ago, let me just say that I believe that the great majority of Christian marriages are valid, that a matrimonial contract was therefore effected between the parties at the time of their wedding, and that by the will of Christ an indissoluble sacramental bond simultaneously arose between those spouses. To be clear, I also hold that many marriages are (and could be proven to be) canonically null and that the percentage of null marriages has indeed risen over recent decades, but I can and do reject anyone’s claim that the majority, let alone “the great majority”, of Christian marriages are null.

+ + +

Finally—and I make this point mostly to preserve it for future discussion—the pope, toward the end of these remarks, made some comments about cohabiting and/or civilly married Catholics being in “a real marriage [and having] the grace of a real marriage”. Canonically (if I may be forgiven for mentioning canon law) such a claim is incoherent. Whatever good might be going on in the life of cohabiting and/or civilly married Catholic couples, it is not the good of marriage and it is not the grace of matrimony, but this—and here is my point—largely because of the Church’s requirement of canonical form for marriage. I would be glad to see the requirement of canonical form eliminated, but unless and until it is, cohabitation and civil-only marriage is not marriage in the Catholic Church.

The moderation queue is ON.  HINT: If you write along the lines of “The Pope is an X!”, where X equals something that shouldn’t be said of Popes, I probably wont’ post your comment.  If you post the perennial favorite, “Why does the Pope do these things?”, I will also probably not release your comment, but I will add here that your planet’s yellow sun didn’t give me the power necessary to answer that one.


BTW… as I just remarked to someone, the  Pope didn’t change the Code of Canon Law or anything else for that matter via off-the-cuff remarks to a layman during Q&A at a conference.   What he said may be confusing, and we can use his words as a stimulus to do a better job of marriage prep, but his words change nothing: the Church’s pernnenial teaching and law are today what they were the day before yesterday.

Don’t have a spittle-flecked nutty.  Just shake your head with a smile as you flip to another page and say, “Bless him, he sure likes to gab with people, doesn’t he!”

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  1. Imrahil says:

    The Holy Father may have counted among “our sacramental marriages” also those entered into by Protestants and Eastern Orthodox, which are, if valid, also sacramental, but about which there is at least a good case for saying “they aren’t entered into for life under all circumstances”.

  2. anilwang says:

    This also has serious theological implications. Repeatedly, throughout the Old and New Testament, Bible states that the relationship between Christ and his Church is one of marriage. Additionally, the basis of some of the sacraments is also one of marriage.

    If what the Pope says is true, then we have a true disaster. The vast majority of marriages, ordinations, and baptisms are also invalid. It’s almost as if the Pope is a sedevacantist if such a thing were possible and the Pope has chosen to accept this disaster as natural rather than using it as a call to arms to remedy this emergency.

    While I do agree that most people (Catholic or not) don’t totally know what they’re getting into when they marry or have their first child, most grow into it. All you need is a mustard seed of understanding and faith in marriage and the role of parenthood, and the Lord can do amazing things with things the size of mustard seeds.

  3. robtbrown says:

    Rather than object to the Pope’s comments, I would like to ask him: If it is true that most marriages today are invalid, what are you going to do about it?

  4. VexillaRegis says:

    Bah. The Pope doesn’t know whereof he speaketh. Nobody knows what they are getting into when they marry, that doesn’t mean their marriages are invalid.

  5. Praynfast says:

    Just out of curiosity, what happens if a Church leader, say for instance the Pope, were to succumb to a stroke or dementia and no longer be “of sound mind”? Or, what if the Pope had some sort of painful condition, say sciatica or peripheral neuropathy, that resulted in him taking mind-altering drugs (like Lyrica, gabapentin, ropinerole, hydrocodone, etc.) that often make a person manic, unable to control impulses, and no longer “of sound mind”? Or, what if a Pope takes anti-anxiety medications that are really just like marijuana when it comes to their effect on impulse control and/or reason? What happens in those instances? Do Cardinals or bishops have any ability to step in?

  6. DeGaulle says:

    Although I have never regretted getting married, I think it is best we don’t fully know beforehand what we are getting into!

  7. Phil_NL says:

    As someone who does suspect that the claim has a ring of truth to it, at least where non-Catholic (for starters mainline protestant, Orthodox I’d be on the fence) marriages are concerned, let me address the esteemed Dr Peters’ main point:

    ” I am at a loss to understand how anyone (…) could seriously assert that human nature is suddenly so corrupted (…)”

    Human nature has always been corrupt, and while it may be on the increase, thats not even needed. The space we gave to our corrected nature increased. And I’d say that this is no sudden movement, but one that went back all the way to Henry VIII, and became mainstream even before WWII. The point is that protestant churches allowed human nature to assert its corrupted nature by accepting divorce. This was reinforced by no-fault divorce laws, which also have been with us for half a century by now. After several decades, and amid increasing divorce rates, on cannot say that parties still consent to a permanent union at their marriage ceremony. The words may not have changed explicitly, but ’till death do us part’ is shorthand for ”till death do us part or the divorce laywer, whomever comes first’.

    If parties do no intend permanency as the Church, indeed Christ, does, then it isn’t a valid marriage. [There’s is a difference between rejecting something like permanency and having an incomplete or faulty understanding of permanency.] I think it’s no stretch of the imagination to say that, overall, a majority of the marriages do not intend permanency in the traditional way. More like a ‘best effort’ clause, if that. Neither of the parties, nor their churches expect anything else.

    Catholic marriages would be a different matter, as the Catholic Church – as just about the only one – holds to permanency. People who marry in the Church presumably intend to live by its rulebook, even though one can indeed ask if the rulebook has been taught that well (but on this front, it seems pretty clear still, actually).

    I’m not sure how His holiness got to his numbers – that’s best left to him, who knows what he meant? – but on the whole, I can imagine that in line with the arguments I made above, we get over the 50% threshold; worldwide, among Christian marriages, as non Catholics are a sizable percentages, and they do count more heavily as they might marry invalidly several times over per person…

    It’s not that human nature has deteriorated that much so sudden, it’s simply that outside the Church it has been institutionalized, affecting all. It was always there, but now it can roam free – and looking at divorce rates, it surely does.

  8. rwj says:

    I can’t help but think that this is simply one of the worst things Pope Francis has said. It is very illuminating as to what is really going in in his mind, or perhaps that he is loosing his mental faculties.

    Even if I held this opinion as the Holy Father does, it would never be appropriate for me to say so, as a pastor, let alone UNIVERSAL PONTIFF. He is quite often critical of his priests for far less imprudence.

  9. LarryW2LJ says:

    Such a thing to wake up to! For the love of Pete ….. why couldn’t the Holy Father have just said something like, “You know, as a Church, we really could do a better job with helping couples to get ready for marriage.” ?

    Everyday seems to be a new adventure.

  10. Mike says:

    Given that the Vatican screeners evidently felt impelled to change ‘great majority’ to ‘portion’, it’s doubtful anyone there doesn’t realize how very, very bad a situation has been created by these words.

    Much prayer and penitence is needed now, so very much.

  11. dans0622 says:

    The transcript issued by “the Vatican” changed the offending phrase to “some marriages”: “In the Vatican’s transcript issued on Friday morning his words were changed to read “some” instead of “a great majority”. A Vatican spokesman said the pope’s off-the-cuff remarks are sometimes edited after consulting with him or among aides.” http://ca.reuters.com/article/topNews/idCAKCN0Z318J

  12. Matthew Gaul says:

    This, in my opinion, is a logical development of the idea that a high-level understanding is required for a sacrament to be valid.

    Serious question – how is this logic in any way different from that of depriving children of the Eucharist? In each case a sacrament is called into question because of the recipient’s lack of understanding.

    If one replies that withholding the Eucharist merely doesn’t help the infant, while declaring null a valid marriage actively harms the persons involved, one would be correct. But those are practical effects, the underlying ideology is the same.

    The exaltation of human reason at the expense of divine grace has consequences.

  13. Bosco says:

    Rorate Caeli reports this today:

    “This morning, the Vatican released a transcript of the papal talk, scandalously tampering with what was really said by the Pope. What the Pope said, and was recorded, and is available on video here (starts at 1:14:20), was, “una grande maggioranza dei nostri matrimoni sacramentali sono nulli” (“a great majority of our Sacramental matrimonies are null”). The transcript released by the Vatican says, “una parte”, “a part/portion”, instead of “a great majority”.]

    The link to the Rorate Caeli piece is here:


  14. Burton1990 says:

    Regardless of if someone enters a Sacrament, God is not obliged to give those graces unless we ask for them and work for them by striving to unite our now one body to Christ’s. (Marrigae…..two become one…you get it)
    I am not the Judge….I do know though that when my wife and I were married we did it with the proper intention, we acknowledged that this whole thing was about getting the other person to Heaven..Period….But hold up, we were 19 and 21…..we had no idea what was required of us in this Sacrament however…the Holy Spirit and the Church has nurtured us continually towards a greater understanding of our roles and responsibilities, or should I say our Dignities and Duties as husband and wife. What I see around me is my fellow Catholics laying down in the mire and accepting the pagan rituals and they have stopped asking God for graces…Old Testament type anyone……..It is challenging to keep focused on God’s message when we have music and exhibitions displayed for us everywhere giving praise and honor to the pagan gods. ( I can no longer take my children to certain stores because they obviously try to propagate their message of false gods by displaying awful magazines in the isle at checkout. It is horrendous.( I often think what society would do from even the 50’s if they saw what we are exposed to in the grocery store) Anyways. What I am trying to say is that if it wasn’t for blogs like this, or websites like Audio Sancto (which is closed now but still holds its library) then I would have not found the good news because our priest have become worshipers in the same temple as the pagans!
    God is working through these priest(Fr. Z, FFSP, and even societies like SSPX who are influencing a change or at least a discussion) who understand that the Mass is the source of all graces for our times and that proper instruction is the key.

    Instead of continually challenging Pope Francis and his comments, although I think knowledge of them is important, I think it is time that maybe we start to consider the discussions that are being brought about because of this man, our Shepherd. If it was not for statements like these, would a discussion be taking place on something so rarely talked about in our local parishes???Most priest I know in my parish don’t wear their priestly attire when they go out in public, in fact a recent seminarian to our dioceses was just complaining that the cable company had given him troubles with their tv service in the rectory…………seriously….O and by the way…..My diocese has had two priest in the past two months be removed from positions in parishes because of sexual assault accusations to minors…..The scandal that is being wrought in our Church is still raging and it is picking up. It is a miracle, I glorious miracle that married couples find Christ at all in this world of Sodom and Gomorrah!

  15. Kathleen10 says:

    I am now curious as to why Dr. Peters would like to see the canonical requirement for marriage go away. ? Thank you, Dr. Peters, for trying to put out a forest fire with a teaspoon. Your effort is excellent, it’s just that the fire is so LARGE.
    It is now necessary for Christian men and women to try to live good and holy lives not in the absence of a papal authority, as if he had been abducted by aliens and relocated to Mars, but with one who profusely spouts…er….ah….bad things.
    By the way, he just also opined that what he thinks and says, IS magisterium. No kidding. He said it. Sorry, can’t remember the context, but, he did.

  16. CPT TOM says:

    I was impressed by a comment I saw elsewhere about this latest of Papal gaffes. The idea that maybe the Pope is suffering from early dementia and that explains some of these rather non-sequitur comments and the hostility to certain groups. That would explain much, and I could at least make some sense of this. Regardless, maybe it would be a good idea if the Holy Father stopped speaking off the cuff? He is sadly starting to sound like some of my older Italian male relatives who once they get going can spew all kinds of unwise opinions that they later regret, and we get in the habit of ignoring. St Peter, pray for him.

  17. tcreek says:

    I am a member of a fairly large parish. We just received the parish stats from last year. Hard to believe but we only had two weddings in the year. I wonder which one . . .

  18. Traductora says:

    Sadly, every time he “gabs,” souls are probably lost. So it’s not just something to shrug at.

    Why say things like this, which can only undermine the struggling and sow doubts in those who once thought they had at least that part of their lives worked out?

    The rest of his gabbing in this case is, if anything, even more confusing, because he praises cohabiting couples for their sincerity, says that by the time they become grandparents, they “usually” get married, and that we really can’t expect them to start married life as a couple because men have a “superstitious fear” of marriage. I guess teaching them otherwise would have been way beyond his pay grade as Archbishop of Buenos Aires (where he boasts of dissuading couples from marrying in cases where the bride-to-be was already pregnant and also of his admiration for “loving” unmarried couples). This despite the fact that single motherhood, with all its insecurity and dependence on the transitory emotional state of the couple, has been consistently shown to result in poverty and social neglect for the vast majority of its children. And it’s a massive problem in Latin America, where once upon a time men were married, and while they may not have been good husbands (having girlfriends was not uncommon), they did take care of their legitimate wife and supported their children. Not any more.

  19. Gregg the Obscure says:

    “In the multitude of words there shall not want sin: but he that refraineth his lips is most wise. ” Proverbs 10:19

  20. Adaquano says:

    I don’t think many people would claim that marriage prep is inadequate, but that really seems to be a symptom of woeful catechis as a whole. My pastor referred my wife and I to marriage prep outside of our diocese because he said that what was offered was inadequate. So, I do think there is some effort on part of priests to direct their couples to a proper preparation program. I know many like to claim that a longer period would be more beneficial. Yet, it seems as if in the past when courtships seemed to be shorter divorce rates were not as high. Perhaps couples had a better understanding of sacrifice and the sacramental aspect or marriage. I also wonder if the overall higher age in which one gets married makes it more difficult for some couples to practice the sacrifice needed for a strong marriage.

  21. Polycarpio says:

    The comment has been disowned in the official transcript, changing “the great majority” to “some”.

  22. CalvinistConvert says:

    With all due respect, should not the words,teachings,remarks of His holiness ooze Catholicism both ex cathedra and “off the cuff”? I no longer have it in me to “just shake your head and smile”.

  23. Laura says:

    You are feeling very charitable today, aren’t you Fr Z? Lol. It’s hard, but may we all be so charitable about His Holiness.

  24. tominrichmond says:

    Two things: first, when we have to preface a discussion of the Pope’s comments with a disclaimer about the limits of his teaching authority, we’re already in hot water.

    Second, I wonder generally about how this encouragement for annulment plays out practically and spiritually. If someone has a doubt about the validity of his marriage, is he now not more likely to pursue annulment, rather than work to reconcile? And if he does pursue nullity, since annulments are not infallible, what is that person’s subjective culpability if in fact he has pursued an annulment which might be entirely bogus, and about which he himself harbored some doubt? Does the nullity declaration give that person a “blank slate” and a clean conscience? Or will he be held accountable on the Day of Judgment for relying on such a shaky thing as this country’s annulment process? Does the answer change if x number of priests have told him he has legitimate grounds, but x number of priests disagree? In short, what does an informed, conscientious layman do in the face of all this?

  25. Phil_NL says:

    Father, if I may reply to your comment:

    Of course you’re right that there’s is a difference between rejecting something like permanency and having an incomplete or faulty understanding of permanency.

    However, in order to reject something, one first has to be aware of it, and acknowledge it as a rule. Modern protestants are neither; they’re raised in the belief that permanency, properly understood, does not matter (divorce is permissible). At best, they substitute a different meaning into the same words. Result: they are not aware that they missing something that is essential in a marriage, nor can they be faulted for this; by their own lights, protestant doctrine, all t’s are crossed. Yet the result is lack of permanency. My position is that rejection does not have to be active, a rebellion against the rules. It is simply that membership in a church (or worse, no church at all but following secular society as one’s only compass) that does not have the rule invalidates the result. Or, in the phrasing above, lets human nature rear its ugly head due to the lack of restraints.

    If one has a faulty understanding, on the other hand, we’re in a different situation: one does recognize that there are rules, but one applies them wrongly, or thinks that they are not applicable. However, for a non Catholic, the only way to end up at the right set of rules on this topic is to become a Catholic! To some extent. all other denominations have given up on permanency in marriage.

    The central distinction is that one, in my opinion, cannot say to a couple that they had a faulty understanding of a sacrament they entered into, if they entered into it only based on a different set of rules. We cannot guess if they would have voluntarily chosen for the sacrament had they understood what it means. It is not comparable to ‘caveat emptor’, where they entered into a contract without reading the fine print. The fine print according to them is simply different.

    However, this fine print is, in my opinion, so different that it does invalidate the entire thing, as permanence is indeed an essential feature. And this is a different situation from (older) cases where parties simply didn’t understood what they were getting into. There the rules were in conformity with the essential features; the issue was with the parties. Nowadays, on this topic, protestant rules aren’t in conformity, and the issue is therefore more fundamental, and not caused by the parties, nor even by poor instruction.

  26. tcreek says:

    —Holy Father, please read—

    Address of John Paul II to The Tribunal of The Roman Rota
    Thursday, 5 February 1987


    7. For the canonist the principle must remain clear that only incapacity and not difficulty in giving consent and in realizing a true community of life and love invalidates a marriage. Moreover, the breakdown of a marriage union is never in itself proof of such incapacity on the part of the contracting parties. They may have neglected or used badly the means, both natural and supernatural, at their disposal; or they may have failed to accept the inevitable limitations and burdens of married life, either because of blocks of an unconscious nature or because of slight pathological disturbances which leave substantially intact human freedom, or finally because of failures of a moral order. The hypothesis of real incapacity is to be considered only when an anomaly of a serious nature is present, which, however it may be defined, must substantially vitiate the capacity of the individual to understand and/or to will.

    8. The judge therefore cannot and ought not to expect from the expert a judgment on the nullity of marriage, and still less must he feel bound by any such judgment which the expert may have expressed. It is for the judge and for him alone to consider the nullity of marriage.
    . . .

    The arduous task of the judge that of treating responsibly difficult cases, such as those involving psychic incapacities for marriage, and always taking into consideration human nature, the vocation of humans, and, connected with this, a correct conception of marriage is certainly a ministry of truth and charity in the Church and for the Church. It is a ministry of truth insofar as the genuine Christian concept of Christian is safeguarded even in the midst of cultures and fashions which tend to obscure it. It is a ministry of charity towards the ecclesial community which is preserved from the scandal of seeing the value of Christian marriage being practically destroyed by the exaggerated and almost automatic multiplication of declarations of nullity of marriage in cases of the failure of marriage on the pretext of some immaturity or psychic weakness on the part of the contracting parties.
    Address of John Paul II to The Tribunal of The Roman Rota
    Thursday, 29 January 2004


    4. The favor iuris reserved for marriage implies the presumption of its validity until the contrary is proven (cf. CIC, can. 1060; CCEO, can. 779). To grasp the significance of this presumption one should first remember that it does not represent an exception with regard to a general rule in the opposite sense. On the contrary, it is a matter of applying to marriage a presumption that constitutes a fundamental principle of every juridical disposition: human acts licit in themselves and that affect juridical relations are presumed valid, even if proof of their invalidity is obviously admissible (cf. CIC, can. 124 2; CCEO, can. 931 2).

    This presumption cannot be interpreted as the mere protection of appearances or of the status quo as such, since the possibility of contesting the act is also provided for, within reasonable limits.

    However, what appears outwardly to be correctly placed, to the extent that it is lawful, deserves initially to be considered valid and, consequently, to be upheld by law since this external reference point is the only one which the legal system realistically provides to discern situations which must be safeguarded. To hypothesize the opposite, that is, the obligation to provide positive proof of the validity of the respective acts, would mean exposing the subjects to a demand that would be almost impossible to achieve. Indeed, the proof must include the many presuppositions and prerequisites of the act, which are often long drawn out and involve a large number of persons and previous, interconnected acts.

    5. Then what can one say to the argument which holds that the failure of conjugal life implies the invalidity of the marriage? Unfortunately, this erroneous assertion is sometimes so forceful as to become a generalized prejudice that leads people to seek grounds for nullity as a merely formal justification of a pronouncement that is actually based on the empirical factor of matrimonial failure. This unjust formalism of those who are opposed to the traditional favor matrimonii can lead them to forget that, in accordance with human experience marked by sin, a valid marriage can fail because of the spouses’ own misuse of freedom.

  27. Father Flores says:

    What does the good doctor mean by doing away with the requirement for canonical form? More wide use of sanation?

  28. APX says:

    I think the marriage prep needs a huge overhaul. It blows my mind that one only needs to take one weekend of marriage prep (which the content seems a bit on the sketchy side at best) to enter into a life long marriage. Our priest (FSSP)’s marriage prep lasts a full 6 months of two hours every week, plus reading assignments of the Church’s documents on marriage, as well as other books. How a weekend of discussing how to handle crumbs in the butter and squeezing the toothpaste tube from the Center amounts to sufficient marriage prep is beyond my mind.

  29. Benedict Joseph says:

    Despite the fact your physician has been aware for decades that you dine exclusively on cheese cake and french fries, and has shared more than one meal with you, he finds himself at a loss when confronted with your chest pain, unable to muster a diagnosis, the origin of the condition, the proper intervention, nor its prognosis.
    Somewhat like announcing fire in the Rialto while turning off the exit signs.
    Sacraments so easily abused and apparently rendered null, what ecclesiastical protocols of somewhat less inviolable character are to be held void?
    The media is having a fest. Let’s have some cake and fries.

  30. FrAnt says:

    Is there no one in the Vatican man enough to tell the Pope that it is not wise or prudent to speak off the cuff. He says something and the guys in the fields have to deal with the confusion he creates. I’m getting really, really tired of it. Why? Because I don’t know what he’s trying to teach us, so how can I explain it to the flock. The result is that I look like I am disrespecting or that I am apathetic to the Holy Father’s words. I just don’t know what he is saying and how it fits into Catholic life. Sorry for the rambling, I just don’t know what to do.

  31. Prayerful says:

    I must count it as Pope’s most bizarre comment yet. God only knows why he says these things. Usually Pope Francis will insult Traditionalists in some form or another, but now he’s managed to pole vault to dumping on the majority of Catholic marriages. I don’t know Fr if you will post this, but I’m really angry about it.

  32. DonL says:

    With an anticipatory eye toward my next worthy confession, I’ll merely say, “Bless him, he sure likes to gab with people, doesn’t he!”

  33. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Short of a Professor Charles Xavier type of super power, to read the minds of married couples, I don’t know how anyone can gauge how many sacramental marriages are null. However, and I think most parish priests will agree with me–the vast majority of Catholic couples who seek out marriage in the Church, have less than spiritual motives and intentions. That, in itself, would not make their marriages invalid.

  34. tskrobola says:

    Ed Peters is spot on. The state of Catholic marriage is not what it should be, but to claim that most of the marriages that Holy Mother Church has recognized are false/null is insane, and the repercussions of that claim being uttered by the Pope is dire. I will not shake my head and smile. This is awful.

  35. DJAR says:

    “Now I direct your attention to the canon law blog of Ed Peters for some help with the Holy Father’s words…”

    Father, why does anyone need Ed Peters for help with the pope’s words? The pope is the chief legislator, not Ed Peters. Ed Peters’ opinion holds no weight in the Church; the pope’s does however.

    Don’t have a spittle-flecked nutty. Just shake your head with a smile as you flip to another page and say, “Bless him, he sure likes to gab with people, doesn’t he!”

    This statement downplays the seriousness of what the pope is doing. People like Ed Peters, who have been opposing what “Traditionalists” have been saying for years, are the people who are having “spittle-flecked nutties,” not Traditionalists.

    Another thing Traditionalists have been saying for years: We are still only at the beginning stages of the present disaster. Even worse things await us, and we will see things we did not think possible. The Traditionalist position is being vindicated daily.


  36. JamesM says:

    The Holy See has “corrected” the transcript. It now says “some” marriages are invalid, rather than “the great majority”.

    It doesn’t change what the Holy Father actually said, but at least the official record has been amended.

  37. mburn16 says:

    From what I read, the Pope made heavy reference to his experiences in Argentina, and then applied what he saw there to the entire world. I can’t comment on what things are like in Argentina, but I find the suggestion that most people marrying, particularly people marrying at a Catholic Altar, don’t realize it is supposed to be for life…to be absurd. And in many, even most, places in the world, there has long been a cultural tradition against divorce, on top of whatever the Church taught.

    It seems the Holy Father has a very narrow field of vision from which he makes these pronouncements.

  38. kiwiinamerica says:

    His words “change nothing”? Seriously?

    You mean just like the Vatican II document “Sacrosanctum concilium” changed nothing when it said that Latin was to be retained as the liturgical language? How’d all that end up anyway? Nothing changed, right?

    Francis’ words change plenty if one is in a difficult marriage, struggling to make it work. They change plenty if one is a member of a marriage tribunal charged with adjudicating the question of annulments. The Pope has already told us that these marriages are all invalid. Just rubber stamp the darn thing and move on. And why struggle to make the marriage work anyway? It’s probably invalid.

    Finally, the statement that “most of our sacramental marriages are invalid” is theological gobbledygook. If a marriage is invalid it can’t be sacramental. In order for the sacrament to be conferred, the marriage must be valid. All valid marriages are sacramental. Invalid marriages are not sacramental. This is basic Catholic theology. Did he actually say this as reported?

  39. gretta says:

    Canon law does have a base presumption that sacramental marriages are valid. However, just a few points to ponder regarding what is considered to potentially be a sacramental marriage.

    All Christian marriages are presumed sacramental – so not just a Catholic with a Catholic who may have some notion of what a Christian marriage is, but marriage between any two validly baptized Christians. Many cases (and most cases in some tribunals) before tribunals are marriages between people that are not and never have been Catholic, but now want to marry a Catholic. But they have never before been exposed to Catholic teaching on marriage. They come from non-sacramental Christian communities that many times are anti-Catholic. These communities teach that sacraments do not exist and their members will strongly deny that their marriages were ever sacramental because they can’t be – sacraments are just something made up by Catholics. It applies to two baptized non-Catholics who decide to get married on a whim by a justice of the peace, or by a friend on a beach who’s a “minister” through the Universal Life Church (applications to be a “minister” are found in the back of Rolling Stone magazine), or on a trip to Vegas. It applies to anyone who attends a Christian denomination that formally teaches that marriage is not permanent, but that divorce is absolutely permitted in the case of adultery because “that is what the bible teaches.” It applies to people who have been baptized as children but have never had any form of Christian, much less Catholic catechesis and have no idea what a Christian understanding of marriage is. It applies to an increasing number of couples who goes into a marriage actively intending never to have children, and who always contracept to ensure that they are never open to children. And this does not even begin to tackle the very common but erroneous deep-seated belief among both Catholics and other Christians that “I have a right to get out of this relationship and entitled to a divorce if…s/he hits me, or cheats on me, or I am no longer fulfilled. They have never been told that marriage should be either faithful or permanent, and even if they have been told, they fundamentally do not believe it.

    When the Pope is saying that many/most marriages not being sacramental, he isn’t talking specifically about CATHOLIC marriages not being sacramental, but a much broader category of marriages that, while they are presumed sacramental, encompass a wide swath of Christianity whose teachings about marriage clearly aren’t Catholic. Maybe this makes the Pope’s statement somewhat less disturbing than assuming that he is just talking about marriages that take place in a Catholic church, or with a Catholic party.

  40. Pingback: Pope Francis: Most marriages today are invalid |

  41. Ariseyedead says:

    “Bless him, he sure likes to gab with people, doesn’t he!” This is not at all how I interpreted the underlying attitude of Dr. Peters’ blog posts regarding the Pope’s recent comments. While I wouldn’t call Dr. Peters’ comments as constituting an official SFN (Spittle-Flecked Nutty), it really seems like he is utterly appalled that the Pope himself would say such outrageous things in a public venue. Pope Francis is not our “crazy old uncle” who “everybody knows” is a little off his rocker. When the Pope says something, he gets headlines in many media venues. Dr. Peters unfortunately doesn’t get the same coverage and distribution. Though at times like this I wish it were otherwise.

    While I am confident that the Holy Spirit will in the end save the Catholic Church from self-destruction, I am currently not enjoying how this thing is playing out.

    Parce, Domine!

  42. RobW says:

    Again the Pope’s comments don’t change the Church’s teaching but will it effectively change it for those who don’t know their faith? Which is probably the majority of Catholics considering most don’t even attend Mass regularly. How many divorced catholics will say “well my marriage was probably null anyway so time to start dating.”?

  43. Thomistica says:

    I’m not clear on what implication we are supposed to draw from Dr. Peters’s statement that
    “I would be glad to see the requirement of canonical form eliminated, but unless and until it is, cohabitation and civil-only marriage is not marriage in the Catholic Church.”

    If the requirement in the last sentence is removed, as Peters would be happy to see, then what follows for the analysis of cohabitation and civil-only marriage?

    Might be good for him to clarify this for us non canon-lawyers. There is a link out of his posting to another posting, but it would help to have all this put in lay terms.

  44. Bill says:

    The article What Are Extraordinary Magisterium and Ordinary Magisterium? (http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/what-are-extraordinary-magisterium-and-ordinary-ma.html) indicates that there have only been “… two ex cathedra pronouncements in 2,000 years ..” and thus the vast majority of infallible teachings result from Ordinary Magisterium communications.

    Since infallible ordinary teaching must be “… consistent, constant and universal as well as “…never [promulgating] a new doctrine” ..” it would seem that a number of Pope Francis’ communications would not qualify.

    How are we to know which of Pope Francis’ teachings are infallible? Where can we find a catalog of magisterial, infallible Church teaching?

  45. chantgirl says:

    It is amazing to me that whenever the hierarchy wants to push some controversial thing, they hide behind the so-called “sense of the faithful” in the laity, but those laity who are so filled with the Holy Spirit’s wisdom can’t even understand what they’re doing when it comes to marriage.

  46. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Somewhere in G.K. Chesterton, there is a passage where he says that nobody ever knows what they’re getting into, when they marry. And he thought this was a good thing, because if they did realize, they’d be too afraid to do it; but a cheerful ignorance makes it possible.

    It seems like a ridiculous huge bar. Nobody has to know what they’re doing to be baptized; and nobody’s parents have to be theologians of Baptism to ask for it to be done. The same is true of all the other Sacraments, except maybe Holy Orders. (And even then, it’s not like a new priest has to understand what being done to him in the same detail that Christ understands what’s being done.)

    If adults are so ignorant that they can’t carry out a marriage contract, they are also so ignorant that they can’t buy a car or a house, or hold down a job. They are severely mentally disabled adults, or insane, or maybe have gotten raised in a closet and possess no human language.

    Everybody else has no excuse.

  47. THREEHEARTS says:

    what does it mean about a marriage as a sacrament if the two participants are not in a state of the grace that sanctifies??? Is the grace and blessing of God and the Church set aside until the state of their souls is rectified???

  48. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Probably the best interpretation is hyperbole. If the Holy Father meant, “I wish most people would prepare better for marriage,” the hyperbole could just come out. We all know people who opine that X country should be nuked, if we’re having trouble with X country; but they don’t actually mean it.

  49. Denis Crnkovic says:


    1. I declare that the Pope is NOT an X, but does like to prattle on (Benedic, Domine, eum).
    2. I assume that the answer to the question “Why the Pope does these things” is unanswerable.

    Those disclaimers posted, it would be nice if the Holy Father were in contact with Dr Peters and read his commentaries. Dr Peters not only understands what Canon Law says, but what it is for. Far from being a continuation of the regulations of the Jewish Old Testament, Catholic Canon Law expresses the fulfillment of the Law that Jesus Christ brought to the chosen people. Serious thinkers like Dr Peters begin with the assumption that Canon Law is a based on revealed Truth, rather than being just a set of convenient rules. It follows, thus, that adhering to the Canon law is an adherence to the Truth as required by Christ’s church. The certainty of the Truth embodied in Canon Law is its greatest strength. If, on the other hand, one sees Canon Law as simply an extension of the Pharisaical adherence to mere prescriptions so lamented by Jesus, then Canon Law – and Holy Mother Church’s magesterium – become useless. And that conclusion could be, well, troublesome.

  50. Ann Malley says:

    His Holiness seems to advocate for the promulgation of invalid marriages as he has recently been quoted as stating that clear doctrine (this yes, this no) is heretical. So we have a Pope who seems, for all intents and purposes, to desire the promotion of ambiguity so as to mount the conversion of the world by way of invincible ignorance.

    For when confronted, the “Who am I to Judge” is played without any recourse to the requisite duty to judge with right judgment.

    And the sacraments of the Church, those signs instituted by Christ to give grace, will now be shunned in lieu of the hoped for surprise of presuming on God’s mercy and His sending us His grace anyway. Does that not come under the auspices of not discerning the Body and Blood of the Lord?

    Is that not a proverbial cliff dive at the best of Satan because it is written that the angels will come preventing Jesus from dashing His foot against a stone?

    Sorry, but one does not put God to the test. And it would seem that this is our time of trial. Not a surprise, but rather the natural fruit of encouraging ambiguity as a means (a very human means) of avoiding Jerusalem and the Cross.

  51. Justalurkingfool says:

    I know from how our valid sacramental marriage has been treated and continues to be treated, that

    (the pope’s startling claim “the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null”)

    is in fact the most honest and truthful assessment of what reality is on the street, in terms of my wife’s behaviors and the behaviors of the bishops and the priests towards my endlessly asking for intervention on behalf of our valid marriage.

    This revelation is absolutely no surprise to me and it should be to no one else, at all.


  52. Lurker 59 says:

    I have typically argued that most PROTESTANT are not sacramental, because there is a real lack of a desire to do that which the Church does. Whether it is the liberal Protestants who reject the indissolvability of marriage or the confessional Protestants who’s focus is more so on marriage not being a sacrament, the desire to do what the Church does isn’t there.

    Now many Catholics might have very well a poor understanding or even an erroneous one of marriage when they enter into it, but they do at least desire “to do what the Church teaches” by the simple fact of them requesting and receiving the Rite of Marriage.

    It is incredibly dangerous to suggest that marriages are not valid because people lack perfect understanding. Since when is perfect gnosis required for sacramental validity? Rejoinder is simple: As marriage and ordination are theologically related sacraments, then what about the great many bishops that clearly do not understand what they have entered into as evidenced from their actions and what they choose to opine about? Nonsense, obviously.

  53. Cosmos says:

    I’m not sure there is anything “confusing” about the content of what our Pope said. It’s either true or false.

    Are we saying that the Pope making a category error? Can a marriage EVER be held invalid because one of the spouses did not understand what it means to enter into a life-long commitment at the time. There is an absolute world of difference between saying:

    (1) “Oh, I literally had no idea Catholics couldn’t get divorces,” and

    (2) “Sure I knew the Church forbid divorce, but I had no idea what I was doing at 25 years old. I never would have signed up for this had I really known–deep down–what my commitment entailed.”

    The Pope does not seem to be talking about the former, but the latter. I always thought that this were never a basis for annulment. How could anyone know, in the fullest sense of the word, what it means to make a life-time commitment to another person? And how could a cannon lawyer determine what he thought a decade later. If this is what they do, I can’t see how the process is not completely subjective and completely dependent on the particular judge reviewing the case.

    If this is a valid basis for an annulment, I am not so sure why the Pope’s view has to be dismissed. He just seems more pessimistic than others. He On the other hand, if it it isn’t a valid reason for annulment, that that–not his pessimism–is the issue.

  54. I am reminded of a conference on tribunal matters given by Msgr Bill Smith.

    A priest-canon-lawyer in the audience piped up to say that he never saw a marriage that could not be granted a declaration of nullity.

    To which Msgr Smith simply said: “You’re such a bastard.”

  55. Geoffrey says:

    “Bless him, he sure likes to gab with people, doesn’t he!”

    That could be the title of this pontificate!

  56. gracie says:

    The official Vatican transcript has altered Pope Francis’ remark, replacing his words, “grande maggioranza” (great majority), with the word, “part” (portion). So the video says one thing and the transcript says something else. Who to believe? Who to believe? Aye , there’s the rub . . .


  57. arga says:

    I will give the pope credit for drawing attention to a fact that many Catholics in the developed world have absolutely no inkling of, and that is the rarity of marriage among cohabiting couples with lots of children in many parts of Latin America, where I have lived and worked for years. Go out into the hinterlands of Nicaragua and Guatemala and you will find baptized couples who wait for months or weeks for a priest to show up, sometimes on horseback, to say Mass. Do you really think that priest is going to withhold communion from those people? Or that these simple folks would even understand why the priest was supposed to withhold communion? Almost no one in the village would qualify for communion! I knew one U.S. missionary priest who would literally harangue anyone not already in line to come forward and receive — “¡todos somos bienvenidos a la cena del Señor!” I knew another one who traveled into the backcountry of Nicaragua on his mule, saying Mass, accompanied by his mistress — a perfectly natural arrangement in the eyes of the country folk. What “new evangelization?” Latin America became Catholic 500 years ago! The reality is that the sacraments are simply not applicable in any practical way in many parts of the world. Of course, I suppose some bishop could try to do something about it. I’d like to hear the results.

  58. JabbaPapa says:

    The Pope did NOT say “the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null”.


    “Noi viviamo una cultura del provvisorio, un vescovo alcuni mesi fa ha ricevuto un ragazzo che gli ha detto: “io voglio diventare sacerdote ma per dieci anni”. Il provvisorio c’è ovunque e per questo una grande maggioranza dei nostri matrimoni sono nulli, loro dicono sì per tutta la vita ma non sanno cosa dicono perché hanno un’altra cultura.

    “nostri” here does NOT mean “our Catholic sacramental”, it means more generally “our” as in “our current society”. Reinforced BTW by his phrase that “they have a different culture” (ie a non-Catholic one).

    The word “sacramental” is not even present in the sentence !!!

  59. YoungLatinMassGuy says:

    I am very demoralized.

    That’s all I have to say about that.

  60. Clinton R. says:

    It is best for me to not say what is on my mind, as I wish not to fall into sin. Anger and frustration, I have learned, are very negative emotions and lead to thoughts that are not profitable for the state of my soul. I will pray for the Pope as always and hope for the best and expect the worst. We can only pray for a future Pontiff who will uphold the teachings of the Church and express them clearly and soundly.

  61. MrTipsNZ says:

    The text of the comments has been revised to say “portion” of marriages are invalid. And it appears that Pope Francis made these statements in the context that youth today see nothing as permanent; or they marry under duress (he uses the example of a shotgun wedding).

    This seems a little difficult to believe as a) many youth still have parents whom are married for life and b) in his home country, allegiance to ones football team is for life, ie. youth know some things are permanent.

    This may be why Pope Francis changed the phrase to portion. But we certainly won’t hear the MSM getting the correction right.

  62. JabbaPapa says:

    oh — I see from the official transcript that the “sacramentali” word is present.

    So we’ve now got three different versions of the same remarks.

    Official transcript : “E per questo una parte dei nostri matrimoni sacramentali sono nulli, perché loro [gli sposi] dicono: “Sì, per tutta la vita”, ma non sanno quello che dicono, perché hanno un’altra cultura.”

    Unofficial transcript : “e per questo una grande maggioranza dei nostri matrimoni sono nulli, loro dicono sì per tutta la vita ma non sanno cosa dicono perché hanno un’altra cultura.”

    Initially reported extract : “e per questo una grande maggioranza dei nostri matrimoni sacramentali sono nulli, loro dicono sì per tutta la vita ma non sanno cosa dicono perché hanno un’altra cultura.”


    Thankfully, his “La crisi del matrimonio è perché non si sa cosa è il sacramento, la bellezza del sacramento: non si sa che è indissolubile, non si sa che è per tutta la vita.” is a lot clearer.

  63. JabbaPapa says:

    His off-the-cuff joke about Cardinal Müller is also not in the official transcript … ;o)

  64. wolfeken says:

    Having addressed the percentage of invalid sacraments of marriage on more than one occasion, perhaps he will now move onto guessing the percentage of invalid novus ordo liturgies performed each year.

  65. bourgja says:

    The pope may not have changed canon law yesterday, but he did change it on Dec. 8, in a direction that is consistent with his recent remarks.

  66. Thomas Sweeney says:

    We are living in strange times. Dumb remarks by our Bishops seems to be commonplace. As a sinner I am not immune to making dumb decisions, thankfully they have hurt me and just a few others. If I were in a position of great responsibility, and the care of souls was my reason for being, I certainly would be careful that what I said would cause no harm to innocent souls.
    As for Bishop Lynch of Orlando, Florida, I think I will hold my tongue.

  67. excalibur says:

    So …….

    Does this mean far more annulments? Is that the end game? Why can’t those seeking an annulment now use Francis’ own words to aid them in the annulment process.

  68. mike cliffson says:

    JPII, I think, (preinternet tho its where I saw it)on the “none- of -us weak humans ever get much so we can cant marry validly” argument wrote a document trying to limit the abuse of this argument in front of ecclesiatical tribunals , that some people are pathological nitwits in extreme cases doesnt extend to the imperfect but sufficient understanding of adults about their own actions and decisions, which Edpeters has mentioned from time . Magisterium?
    However, whatever the holy father reffered to, I have heard something along these arithmetical lines , “many/most Catholic marriages are invalid nowadays in the West” ,said by traditional priests, not hailfellowellmet, wafflers, or trendy /lefty ones, when bemoaning Catholic couples’ contracepting from their very wedding, (- or before, )and unaware of anything wrong with it.
    I am sure this was said as a wakeup call, a description for so many catholic “marriage breakdowns” (great, noone did nuffink so mutatis mutandis , can I call a murder an exreme relationship breakdown?) and above call for better catequized Catholics, rather than encouraging floods of anulments.
    I would hesitate to put myself forward more than there is to Our present Peter’s remarks to journalists.
    But it might be an important caveaat to what admirable Ed Peters postulates, that a majority of sacramental mariages are just as they have always been – well I wonder contraception is SUCH a biggie, so much a deliberate frustration of the end or aim of marriage, etc, that that just isnt so!

  69. David Willis says:

    the Bishop of Rome makes me exhausted and sad. i pray for him, but it is very hard sometimes.
    John Allen wrote today in commenting on this story: “The alternative would be for a pope never to open his mouth until his utterances have been vetted by a team of theologians and spin doctors – and that, folks, is not a consummation devoutly to be wished.”
    oh how i wish that he would keep his mouth closed and write things precisely.

  70. dochm13 says:

    Father, I am sorry, but your lighthearted treatment of this situation is really inappropriate. The implications of his statements yesterday are manifold grave, and will lead countless souls led astray. You also have care of souls, and via this blog, more souls than 99% of other priests who have ever lived. Please call out the heresy.

  71. dochm13 says:

    I see not many (any) comments are making it through, but I will leave this here anyway. https://nonvenipacem.com/2016/06/17/pope-abrogates-sacrament-of-matrimony-institutes-sacrament-of-cohabitation/

  72. Packrraat says:

    I am not sure ANYONE entering into a marriage contract REALLY knows what he is getting himself into. Any more than anyone knows exactly what it means to be a parent until he is a parent himself. But, that doesn’t invalidate the reality of the marriage.

  73. SanSan says:

    OK, I won’t have a spittle-flecked nutty…….but Father! As a married woman for over 48 years, his remarks “demean” the vows I took at the altar……….especially his remarks that cohabitation could be grace filled bc of fidelity of the couple…..what? I thought cohabitation was another name for fornication?

    My husband and I were 18 and pregnant when we got married……surely we entered into marriage not knowing which end was up……but, we have braved the storms and we are still married…..bc of the Vows…..until death do us part. That Sacrament of Matrimony is what helped us to endure and to grow in authentic love.

  74. Blas says:

    A lot of what we hear from the Holy Father doesn’t form part of his ordinary magisterium (e.g., daily Mass fervorini).

    How long we can go with this excuse? People do not read the documents but read the headlines, listen the radio and the TV. Can we say that Francis says something wrong and writes always right? Beeing him the Rock of the Church can say that?
    You say “a lot, How we can what is magisteriun and what not? Ok, I know, go to the CCC and look for what is right. But then we do not need the Rock,we fall i protestantism.

  75. Long-Skirts says:

    Fr. Z said:

    “Don’t have a spittle-flecked nutty.”

    “All men have an instinct for conflict: At least, all healthy men.” (Hilaire Belloc)

  76. rickamdg says:

    Around 20 years ago, a then-prominent monsignor in NYC, speaking privately to a small group of men, remarked that many Catholic couples who were marrying were not properly catechized. I remembering being a bit surprised when he also said that this could prove to be grounds for nullity at some point down the line. After some thought, though, it did seem logical. This monsignor was known to be orthodox, so he wasn’t stirring things up or making excuses for the couples, just stating what he had observed. This man never, to my knowledge, offered his insights in a public forum. I wondered then, and have since wondered, if and when his observation might prove prescient.

    So the Pope’s remark didn’t particularly surprise me. Whether his public airing of his observations proves to be prudent or not, time will tell.

    However, wouldn’t it now be refreshing if he focuses his attention on the poor catechesis that lies at the root of this?

  77. Giuseppe says:

    I am not sure I disagree with the Pope. It is not difficult to get an annulment, and I am told it is not that expensive today as it was then. The existence of annulled marriages casts doubt on all marriages. “What God has joined, let no man put asunder” is now a challenge and not a fact. I have played the organ for hundreds of weddings, many of which were annulled. They look the same. I’ve gotten to the point where I assume there’s an annul-able issue in every marriage, and what I see on Saturday could either be a true sacrament, or retrospectively declared a simulation.

  78. The conclusion that most marriages are invalid is not hard to make given the wide variety of marriages that have been declared null over the last few decades. The message that marriage tribunals have been sending is that only perfect marriages are valid. We’ve spent so much time determining what makes an invalid marriage, but no one has tried to approach this from the other side: what makes a valid marriage? That’s actually a question that no one wants to answer, I’m afraid, because it means that a tribunal at some point, risking the acquisition of the epithet “meanies,” might actually have to declare a marriage– gasp– valid!

    Apart from that, we have to think about Dr. Peters’ remark, “Marriage is that natural human relationship established by God as the normal way for nearly all adults to live most of their lives. ” If so, why would God make it next to impossible for someone to live out such a relationship? What sort of God would do such a thing?

    It looks as though once again what is supposed to be natural and normal is being upheld as an unattainable “ideal” that no mere mortal could possibly attain. Sigh.

  79. JimRB says:

    This is particularly frustrating on a number of levels. I am married to a non-Catholic Christian. Prior to our marriage, I explained in great detail the Sacrament to my wife and clarified that for Catholics (and for her), there is no such thing as divorce. I explained annulments and explained why I went to such great pains to ensure proper permissions for our marriage, and did everything in my (and our) power to ensure our marriage was valid.

    My wife and I agreed to never speak the “d” word regardless of how difficult our marriage might become (and thanks be to God it has not been so difficult and we have 5 wonderful boys), but my ever-present hope and prayer that my wife will become Catholic is always on my mind. When my Pope suggests that our marriage is more likely than not to be invalid, it only makes Catholics (and myself) seem absurd. This sort of thing is not merely a travesty about Sacramental and marriage doctrine, but is a scandal and a bad witness to the entire world. We (Catholics) used to be some of the very last witnesses of genuine marriage left in this world. The suggestion that some (most!) genuine marriages are “invalid” and that some co-habitators (we used to say fornicators) have the graces of marriage is beyond frustrating.

    One can’t help but wonder if the Holy Father concerns himself about whether or not the vast majority of religious vows, which are not natural to the human nature (or at least, as natural as marriage is), are invalid. The same logic would apply, would it not?

  80. priests wife says:

    theologically speaking- could we say that many priesthood ordinations could be invalid because ‘how can a man really know what is happening with the sacrament?’ (we Byzantines call it a ‘mystery’ for a reason)- how does it help us married people to say that most are invalid? Heaven help those faithful who have challenges with scrupulosity!

  81. PTK_70 says:

    I’d like to pull on this thread a bit. If the great majority of Catholic marriages are null, then it will be a comfort to those who are and have been in a valid sacramental union to *know* that their marriage is indeed valid. Bishops, therefore, might set up tribunals, the commission of which would be to review each and every existing marriage in the diocese and issue “imprimaturs” to the ones which are valid. Maybe you could get a pass if you were married before a certain date. As for those found to be null, the couples are either granted an annulment or they are told to go back to square one and given instructions for making their union a sacramental one. This would have the effect of clearing the Church’s house, I suppose. It would also have the effect of putting two certificates in the house of a truly united man and wife: the original marriage certificate and the tribunal imprimatur!

  82. Thomas Stewart says:

    Much more off-handed nonsense and we shall regrettably have to rename it the Throne of Peter Principle. Where are the communications staff? There should be people close at hand whose entire job centers around not allowing the Pope to say things like this in front of the press, even if it means they have to fake a seizure as a distraction.

  83. HealingRose says:

    I was recently reflecting about the sacrament of marriage and why it so often fails to yield the fruits of the Spirit that it should. If two people are knowingly living in a state of sin, then how would that marriage be fruitful? Most people live together before marriage or have relations before marriage, but how many also consider going to confession as part of their marriage preparation? After the marriage is then entered into in a state of sin, why would they expect God’s blessings? Also, if you take into account the percentage of Catholics that do not believe in the real Presence of the Eucharist, the marriage sacrament would indeed be invalid due to their inability to fully participate in the Mass. I could legitimately argue that half of the Catholic marriages are indeed invalid, but the big question is how would we remedy the problem?

  84. mlmc says:

    we have been spoiled by the previous 2 Popes, who were unusually precise with language. It isn’t just that PJ II and B16 where intellectual giants. Perhaps it is because they grew up in totalitarian regimes & what you said could get you in trouble very quickly. Many don’t remember that prior Popes never answered questions from the press the way the last 3 Popes have- probably to avoid misinterpretation of “off the cuff” remarks. It was said the Bi6 just didn’t answer in complete sentences- but complete paragraphs. Maybe JPII and B16 started a precedent that others may be better off if they rarely followed it.

  85. xgenerationcatholic says:

    A lot of marriages are invalid. Marriages attempted by people already married (divorced), Catholics married outside the Church, people who marry intending no children, there’s lots of “marriages” like that, and they’re all invalid.

  86. JacobWall says:

    A favourite cliche people like to throw around these days is “It is what it is.” As absolutely meaningless as that saying is, it seems we are getting more and more into a reality where “It isn’t what it is,” or – more to the point – “What Pope Francis said isn’t what it (officially) is.”

    I recently reminded a friend who had a little crisis after one of the Pope’s remarks that we always have to wait for Fr. Lombardi’s clarification. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but for the first while it seemed that Fr. Lombardi tried to explain the statements and make it look like the Pope meant something different at the time when he spoke. Fr. L now seems content simply to say, “the Pope said X, but he has now changed what he said to Y” – from NC Register:

    “When the Vatican released its official transcript of the encounter the following day, they had changed the comment to say that ‘a portion of our sacramental marriages are null.’ ”

    Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/most-marriages-today-are-invalid-pope-francis-suggests/#ixzz4BtgBkwHJ

    By the way, I wonder if Fr. Lombardi’s pay went up when Francis became Pope? I feel like his job is considerably harder these days.

  87. Maltese says:

    Here’s a serious question: When I was in my early 20’s I married in Jamaica, before I became Catholic. Then, I had four children, and my ‘marriage’ radically sanitized by an Archbishop (the Priest-Canon Lawyer said it would be good if we gifted him a bottle of Scotch, for his efforts.) Now, twenty years later, and four years after my wife divorced and left me (a divorce I opposed, but, frankly, when I was married on that beach in Jamaica I honest said to myself, ‘well, if this doesn’t work-out, I can always remarry’), where does that leave me, vis-à-vis being able to remarry in the Church? I’ve read that a radical sanitation is actually harder to annul than a marriage. Any thoughts? (Btw., this is a dead-serious concern of mine, since I’ve bet a lovely Catholic lady.)

  88. St. Rafael says:

    So in the mind of Pope Francis, it seems that those who are married in the Church are not really married, even though the moral law is written on the human heart, and those who are not married, but are cohabitating, shacking up, and fornicating, really are married. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

  89. EeJay says:

    “Bless him, he sure likes to gab with people, doesn’t he!”

    I’m a father too, if I kept spilling out dodgy ‘off the cuff remarks’ in front of my child I would expect her to question them every time, and she does! (she’s not 10 years old yet). Children pay attention to their parent’s words, they’re not over-legalistic pharisaical nutters, words matter and if they started saying “Bless him, he sure likes to gab with people, doesn’t he!” I would begin to think I was not doing my job very well.

  90. JabbaPapa says:

    Pope Francis has taken the welcome step of clarifying personally one of the more confusing of his off-the-cuff statements. Hopefully, he will be doing that more frequently going forward.

  91. Philomena Mary says:

    My pastor made this comment on Facebook in relation to this issue:

    “Following on from the previous post, as a Pastor of souls, and before God, I say “Enough”! The Pope is meant to be the visible source and foundation of the Church’s unity, based on his bearing witness to, and expounding, the Truth of Jesus Christ. We have a right to receive this Truth – not erroneous and harmful personal opinions – from the Pope. The Pope thinks most marriages are invalid because people didn’t know what they were doing? Well, that invites speculation as to whether the Cardinals knew what they were doing when they elected Jorge Borgoglio, Pope. I think the time has come when Pope Francis really needs to consider his position. If his personal opinions are more important to him than the teachings of Christ, then surely the only honourable thing to do is to stand down….”

    I think we need to pray for the Pope.

  92. mpolo says:

    Isn’t the assumption always (assuming canonical form for Catholics) that the marriage is valid unless challenged? It’s a kind of complicated limbo — I can look at two people and think to myself, “They probably don’t know what they’re getting into. Perhaps the marriage isn’t valid…” But at the same time, I have to treat it as a valid marriage (and pray that the consent of the couple becomes complete with time).

    In any case, I don’t have a big problem with correcting the statements afterwards, given that the Holy Father was speaking from the cuff. Whether he should do so or not, is of course another question.

  93. Justalurkingfool says:

    If you truly prefaced your vows thinking that “if this does not work out, I can always remarry”, then your marriage is null, ab initio.

    Right now, in view of the living hell I remain in and cannot get free from,

    I wish that I had felt the same on January 12, 1980, when I spoke my vows at our wedding, but I did not. I meant mine, until death.

    Now, my life, is a living death.


  94. Christ_opher says:

    Surely these sort of remarks from our Pope indicate that he wants communion for all.

  95. Papabile says:

    It is times like these when I am forced to meditate on Galatians 2…. “…cum autem venisset Cephas Antiochiam in faciem ei restiti quia reprehensibilis erat…”

  96. iPadre says:

    Priests Wife – exactly my thought. The ramifications of this line of thinking are astounding. If a “majority” of marriages are invalid, wouldn’t it go to reason that the same logic goes for those in Holy Orders. Since formation was so deficient for so many decades, the flagrant rejection of moral and doctrinal teachings of the Church, and finally and the sexual promiscuity (abuse and affairs) among some clergy.

  97. AnnTherese says:

    The pope might be an extrovert who processes his thoughts aloud– from brain to mouth. It’s hard to change that if it’s your nature, but I suppose more introverted tendencies –not speaking till you’ve thought it through –might work better for him in his position.

    But regarding his comments: When I worked in several parishes, I saw a lot of weddings –most of which seemed more like shows or pageants than sacraments; and the fact that they were held in the church had more to do with pleasing parents and having a lovely setting for the show. Marriage prep was kind of a necessary evil, it seemed the perception was. I found it a rare joy to witness a couple who really approached the prep and sacrament and the wedding itself as a sacred event.

    I’m not supposing which were valid or not– only God knows the hearts and journeys of those couples. But, it made me a bit cynical/pessimistic, and I guess I can understand even our pope– who’s human like us –muttering his frustration at times.

  98. Tricia says:

    The disposition required for other sacraments is not full belief and agreement in the meaning of the sacrament. For example, non-Catholics can baptise as long as they intend to do as the Church does. The Sacrament of Rencociliation does not require perfect contrition (though one should strive for that). It seems strange to claim that the Sacrament of Matrimony is somehow different.

  99. Joseph-Mary says:

    Does this mean that my son living with his fiancée is okay but my decades long marriage might be shown to be “null”? Did I know what I was getting into? Heck NO! But did I pronounce a vow before God, the Church, my family and friends? YES! And has the grace of the sacrament got me this far when there surely were times I wanted to back out? Yes to that too.

    The confusion and upset continues on pretty much a weekly basis from the Vatican. May the Lord help us…

  100. The Masked Chicken says:

    From what I read of the off-the-cuff remarks, the Pope seems to be speaking based on his personal experiences. The plural of anecdote is not data. If he really wants to know whether or not most marriages are invalid (and if one understands the meaning of the word, “permanent,” then that would, in my opinion, be enough for validity), the let him pay for a true scientific study. Papal opinions regarding alleged facts cannot be part of the Ordinary Magisterium, because, as proported matters of facts, they can be tested apart from Papal opinion. God does not, usually, give supernatural insight when the situation can be understood by natural means. St. John Paul II thought most marriage valid, so this is dueling Popes. Why should one accept Pope Francis’s opinion over St. John Paul II. Where popes contradict each other, I have right to ask for proof,

    The Chicken

  101. SanSan says:

    “The suggestion that some (most!) genuine marriages are “invalid” and that some co-habitators (we used to say fornicators) have the graces of marriage is beyond frustrating.”

    Recently, I took a stand against cohabitation in our family. I took the abuse, the pain, and the ridicule in order to try and save the souls of the unwed mother, her child and the young man involved. They didn’t listen to me. They chose to live in sin. They married 5 months later in the Church. Even the Msgr who married them didn’t seem to have a problem–so what was my problem? So why was I such a party pooper? I believe that marriage is sacred, that cohabitation is a sin and I wanted them to “order” their relationship fully with God before entering into Holy Matrimony.

    So, why bother according to current trends in the Church? Because, I believe that the Sacrament of Matrimony is holy and necessary for the continuation of Life.

  102. anna 6 says:

    Meanwhile, I have children who are dating and approaching the age of marriage and have many friends who are cohabitating. My husband and I have been very clear about how we do not approve of “living together” before marriage due to the moral implications, but also because it is a terrible foundation for marriage from a practical standpoint. But the cultural pressure is so great on them and I fear that my oldest will soon try to pursuade us to accept for her what her friends and cousins are also doing. This has become a great concern for my husband, myself and so many of our friends.

    Pope Francis’ words on cohabitation are not helpful, and I expect to hear them thrown back at me.

    [“not helpful”… indeed.]

  103. MariaKap says:

    It’s my understanding that the default position of the church has been to assume validity and to prove nullity. Pope Francis gas it exactly backwards. It appears he is assuming nulluty and expecting couples to prove validity.

  104. Ann Malley says:

    @Jabba Pappa

    “…Pope Francis has taken the welcome step of clarifying personally one of the more confusing of his off-the-cuff statements. Hopefully, he will be doing that more frequently going forward.”

    Hopefully, he will take the lesson and not continue to speak in a confusing, off-the-cuff manner so as to avoid the occasion of potential sin. That is causing scandal. [There is that solution …. as unlikely as it may be.]

    Unfortunately, this stubborn pattern with the Holy Father, while perhaps dismissed when one is new to office, is one that he doesn’t intent giving up. No matter how much confusion he causes. He is an adult, after all, and one tasked with a specific job.

    Again, to use His Holiness’s logic we could question the validity of his ordination and elevation to the papacy. He demonstrates an utter lack of what the duty of priest and pastor of souls “In the Catholic Church” requires.

  105. Thomistica says:

    Here is another comment I hope Dr. Peters can clarify.

    When he says that reasonable minds may differ about same-sex unions (in below), it wasn’t clear to me whether he meant the question about the inherent morality of these unions, or whether they should or should not be permitted according to civil law. In any case, I wasn’t sure how his comments here about the legal issue cohere with the Vatican document linked below.


    6. It is important (though some might say it is too late) to distinguish between a Catholic’s stance toward “same-sex unions” and that toward “same-sex marriage”. These are not equivalent terms. Legal recognition of “same-sex unions” might be a good idea, a tolerable idea, or a bad idea, but, per se, “same-sex unions” are things over which reasonable minds (including Catholic minds) may differ; in contrast, Catholics may never approve or support “same-sex marriage”, this, upon pain of contradicting infallible Church teaching, if not of committing heresy.

    Afore-mentioned Vatican document:

  106. avatquevale says:

    This undermining of the sacramental nature of marriage is yet another step toward melding Catholicism with Lutheranism.
    Pope Francis is traveling to Sweden at Halloween to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Refomation at the Lutheran Cathedral in Lund along with the World Lutheran Federation.

    Isn’t immaturity of one of the partners considered valid grounds for divorce in the Lutheran church? “Divorce.” ” Invalid marriage.” At this point what difference does it make?
    Are Catholics to become little Lutherans now?

  107. jhayes says:

    This is not a new idea for Pope Francis. Three years ago, he made the same point – although he attributed the source to his predecessor as bishop. In the official Vatican transcript, he said (July 28, 2013):

    We are moving towards a somewhat deeper pastoral care of marriage. And this is a problem for everyone, because there are so many of them, no? For example, I will only mention one: Cardinal Quarracino, my predecessor, used to say that as far as he was concerned, half of all marriages are null. But why did he say this? Because people get married lacking maturity, they get married without realizing that it is a life-long commitment, they get married because society tells them they have to get married. And this is where the pastoral care of marriage also comes in. And then there is the legal problem of matrimonial nullity, this has to be reviewed, because ecclesiastical tribunals are not sufficient for this. It is complex, the problem of the pastoral care of marriage.


  108. SKAY says:

    “Surely these sort of remarks from our Pope indicate that he wants communion for all.”

    I agree. I think Pope Francis knew exactly what he was saying.

  109. jfk03 says:

    This news makes my heart ache. We all must stand firm and pray constantly.

  110. hilltop says:

    No spittle-flecked nutty here, good Father, but really?: “Just shake your head with a smile as you flip to another page and say, “Bless him, he sure likes to gab with people, doesn’t he!””???
    Well, OK, since you asked, I’ll try: [I wasn’t really asking, you know. That was irony. It was an exercise in erotesis. Know what I mean? Oops, there I went and did it again!]
    That impish rascal! What a character! By golly, His Holiness sure knows how to put the old spice in the pot, doesn’t he! Good thing folks focus on that winsome smile of his and don’t listen much to what he says, or else thoughtful bloggers on whom so many faithful rely would have to do backflips to avoid addressing the implications of his good-spirited, faith-filled chit-chats!
    But hey! That ol’ Pope is throwin’ the old creaky doors open! He’s making messes! What a guy!

    [Yessiree… he’s a scamp, alright.]

  111. Fr. W says:

    Have been reading the responses – too many to absorb so perhaps this has been mentioned before. I would hope the Holy Father at least talk to some of his canonists from time to time. Error concerning the nature of marriage does not invalidate marriage unless it forms the will. If a man and a woman believe that theoretically and even practically marriage is dissoluble yet at the moment of consent intend that their marriage be for life there is question as to its validity. Invalidity arises only when the consent is conditioned upon belief in dissolubility. Pretty basic marriage law 101. Parce mihi Domine! [Also in that 101 course: marriages are presumed to be valid (not invalid) unless demonstrated not to be.]

  112. gracie says:

    Priests Wife and iPadre,

    The same thought ran through my head. If most sacramental marriages are invalid, then it also could be true that most “priests” are not really priests. After all, maybe the majority of these men didn’t really understand what they were getting into at Ordination. And if the majority of priests are not priests, then it follows that the majority of Confessions (Reconciliation) and Consecrations (the Eucharist) are invalid.

  113. jhayes says:

    On the question of whether this was a “off-the-cuff” statement, I note that. In addition to the 2013 statement I quoted above, Cardinal Kasper said in a a 2014 interview that Francis had told him the same thing:

    I’ve spoken to the pope himself about this, and he said he believes that 50 percent of marriages are not valid. Marriage is a sacrament. A sacrament presupposes faith. And if the couple only want a bourgeois ceremony in a church because it’s more beautiful, more romantic, than a civil ceremony, you have to ask whether there was faith, and whether they really accepted all the conditions of a valid sacramental marriage—that is, unity, exclusivity, and also indissolubility. The couples, when they get married, they want it because it’s stable. But many think, “Well, if we fail, we have the right.” And then already the principle is denied. Many canon lawyers tell me that today in our pluralistic situation we cannot presuppose that couples really assent to what the church requires.

    So, this issue has been on Francis’ mind for some time and is it is not just an offhand response to a question. [No, they were still off-the-cuff remarks.]

  114. arga says:

    On top of everything else, when the Vatican press office deliberately changed “majority” to “some,” it lied. The persons who did that and approved it are guilty of a mortal sin. No wonder the Church hasn’t much credibility any more, with anybody.

  115. Janol says:

    If the Holy Father opines that the vast majority or portion of marriages are null because of a lack of a proper understanding of the permanence and commitment of marriage it would seem that he is claiming that marriage is indissoluble.

    On the other hand, people entering marriage usually do so with the intention of striving for a long-term relationship — they see marriage as an “ideal”.

    So it would seem that the Holy Father’s thinking in AL then, is that most Catholic sacramental marriages are null, and therefore most Catholics who have divorced and remarried are not objectively committing adultery. And yet he speaks repeatedly of not being rigid and legalistic and of “ideals” instead of commandments, and that we can be assured that in striving for the ideal, the Lord understands… But now it would seem the Holy Father is being rigid and “throwing stones” at all these idealistic couples saying their marriages are not real.

  116. JabbaPapa says:

    arga says:

    On top of everything else, when the Vatican press office deliberately changed “majority” to “some,” it lied. The persons who did that and approved it are guilty of a mortal sin.

    Oh don’t be ridiculous !!!

    The act of correcting an erroneous statement that one may have made is the exact opposite of being sinful, and it is instead by definition intrinsically virtuous to do so.

    If you were to claim that you had never spoken some Error or other about the Faith by accidental and ultimately unintentional mis-speaking, I quite simply would not believe it.

    As in for example this ludicrous accusation of mortal sin against the clerics of the Holy See …

  117. Gratias says:

    “Who I am to judge” was another off-the-cuff planned comment. Pope Francisco spent two Synods to get the Catholic Church to accept unmarried couples as the new normal.

  118. WYMiriam says:

    May I refer people (e.g., JabbaPapa and others who say “the Pope has changed what he said”) to http://www.catholicworldreport.com/NewsBriefs/Default.aspx?rssGuid=most-marriages-today-are-invalid-pope-francis-suggests-51752/?

    1. “Updated June 17, 2016 to include a clarification by the Vatican: Pope Francis *approved a revision* to the official transcript to say that “a portion” of sacramental marriages are null, instead of “the great majority.””

    2. “While he initially said in unscripted comments that “the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null,” he later *approved a revision* of these remarks.”

    3. “When *the Vatican* released its official transcript of the encounter the following day, *they* *had changed the comment* to say that “a portion of our sacramental marriages are null.””

    4. “In the Vatican blog “Il sismografo,” Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said that *this change is a *revision* approved by the Pope himself.*”

    5. “Fr. Lombardi said. “This is what happened in this case, so *the published text was expressly approved by the Pope*.””

    So, here we have it: five (5!) times it is stated that the Pope *approved the revision* — NOT that the Pope himself corrected what he himself had said.

    Is it wrong to say that I have had it with the off-the-cuff remarks that later need to be corrected, explained, revised? Is it wrong to wish that Pope Francis would finally appear before the microphones and TV cameras of the world and say, “I am sorry for the vast amounts of confusion my off-the-cuff remarks over the years have made throughout the world. I apologize. I ask for your forgiveness. I will never again open my mouth to say anything other than what is printed on the page in front of me” –???

    Meanwhile, another of his off-the-cuff remarks frightens me more than the one that got revised:

    “Pope Francis said that marriage preparation is a problem, and that marital problems are also linked to social situations surrounding weddings.

    He recounted his encounter with a man engaged to be married who was looking for a church that would complement his fiancée’s dress and would not be far from a restaurant.

    “It’s social issue, and how do we change this? I DON’T KNOW,” the Pope said.” (EMPHASIS added)

    His “I don’t know” is breathtakingly astounding. He pontificates (pardon the pun) on practically everything else under the sun, but he doesn’t know how to even begin to address the problem of a man, about to be married, choosing a church that complements the bride’s dress??

    (P.S. Does anyone else see any irony in the name of the Italian blog “Il sismografo”? What other earthquakes can we expect from the Pope/Vatican/Holy See?)

    Come, Holy Spirit, and lead us into all Truth!

  119. joan ellen says:

    1. The problem: …as I see it…Pope Francis & moral problems. In this case Re: The Sacrament of Matrimony. A most important of the 7 Sacraments (upheld by the Western & Eastern Church).
    2. The evidence: 51% (or is it more?) of marriages failing…does that include Catholic marriages? If so, it seems clear that the portion of marriages failing are a majority…whether in the Catholic world or the entire Christian world. Unless I am not seeing/understanding correctly.
    3. The solution: Catechesis & example. Catechesis is being done…well…(& sometimes not so well) on the Internet. Blogs, such as this very one, & other social media are excellent examples. Examples of the University of the Faithful (Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., Modern Catholic Dictionary, p. 553 from Constitution on the Church, II, 12). The commentors on Fr. Z’s blog, almost always get an A for the high degree of catechesis they do. As does Fr. Z for extrapolating it! ;)

  120. tealady24 says:

    I have been married since 1972. I do believe I know more than any pope what it means to stay married through good times and bad circumstances. We were married in the church and on thinking back to that day I could NEVER have envisioned my life today! This really sounds as if it’s coming from someone who has NO CLUE to the married vocation. There is some truth to the fact that these unmarried men want to tell all the rest of us how it is! Only they don’t know much. Lip service is really easy; it’s the living every day that’s the hard part. If most Catholic marriages are invalid what then? No answer there.

  121. Matamoros says:

    Feminism has destroyed marriage. Pope Francis is correct, like it or not. [I think not. And remember there is a difference between valid marriage and having the graces of the sacrament of matrimony.]

    Girls and women today have refused traditional marriage and roles, while maintaining an outward appearance of marriage, often called by commentators “marriage 2.0”.

    Let’s look at this. Women refuse patriarchal marriage, which is the marriage that God ordained and the Church enshrines in the sacrament. In this they refuse the husband’s role as ruler and protector, and the wife’s requirement to honor, respect and obey; along with the requirements that they be cheerful, graceful, and pleasant – and particularly regarding their requirements to render the marriage debt (sex) every time requested, consequently, as St. Paul states, defrauding their husbands and committing a mortal sin.

    Too many women want the marriage ceremony, so they can be “queen for a day”, but not the hard work of making a marriage and being a wife.

    With 50 million abortions and counting, all too many millions of women are murderesses, and refuse Church teaching on abortion and contraception and openness to children.

    Divorce in modern society is woman’s way to “cash and prizes” if she divorces her husband and takes his property and children. And 70-80% of all divorces are directly filed by women – not for any logical reason, and so are termed frivorces – while another 10-20% of divorces are forced upon the husband against his will. This is 80-90% of all divorces.

    Women can’t even be bothered to obey Church law and wear a head covering in Church, let alone be modest and virgins at their wedding and thereafter.

    All in all, women are in rebellion against the Church, the sacraments, and marriage itself. Yes, I believe it is true that the vast majority marriages are NOT sacramental marriages, but marriages in name only.

    Even where women want to be married, they all to often do not take the vows properly, having “interior reservations” whereby they say the words, but do not mean them – fully intending that they will leave the marriage if they don’t like it, he doesn’t make them haaapppppyyyyy, etc.

    Now throw in the mix that most people in our society have never, ever, seen a sacramental marriage, and truly do not know what it is. The post-Vatican II church has either gone along with societal deformation, or rendered poor catechesis in all the sacraments, particularly in marriage preparation.

    All of these things show that Pope Francis is indeed correct. Like it or not, this IS the state of marriage today; and is why more and more men are refusing to marry. The Church must reform marriage preparation and realize the hopeless position many are in with invalid, but presumed marriages.

    One solution would be to have a short pastoral discussion with parishoners about the invalidity of “interior reservations” marriages and give them the opportunity to arrange to reswear their vows so as to create a true, sacramental marriage.

  122. joan ellen says:

    1. Pope Francis & his off the cuff remarks help me take notice of the high divorce rate…a real problem.

    2. Can’t the “portion” of marriages, which are not valid, be documented in the tribunals where marriages are deemed valid or invalid…or can some inferences be made from these legitimate numbers, giving evidence of a bigger problem than what we understand to be true?

    3. Of the 7 Sacraments…Baptism, Confirmation, & Orders impose an indelible…i.e. permanent…mark on the soul…& are only received 1 time. The Sacraments of Extreme Unction…Anointing of the Sick…, Penance…Confession…, & Eucharist…Holy Communion…can be or are received more than one time. Only the Sacrament of Matrimony is not in either camp…strictly or rigidly. It is supposed to act like an indelible Sacrament…i.e. till death do us part…& yet…if we do not understand it & its consequences…it is not a Sacrament…only a sacrament…like a sacramental such as holy water…maybe it is not even a sacramental…yet something should be said for good intentions…often with children as evidence…& can be entered into time & again…I understand up to 3 times in the Eastern Church. In the Western Church…I have heard up to 7 times.

    What do we do to strengthen this Sacrament, which is supposed to be a commitment to God, our spouse, our children? And to help the suffering spouse…who may still believe his/her Sacrament is valid…& what of the children & their belief that the Sacrament of their parents is valid?

    I recently heard we are a mess…each of us individually. Is it from the confusion over the Sacrament of Matrimony? If we are in fact a mess, it is not from love, peace & mercy.

  123. AnnTherese says:

    Matamoros, your post reminded me of this Facebook post I just read– the part you left out:

    “I grew up watching my dad and the way he respected the women closest to him- his mother and his wife. At the time, I had no idea that I was learning through the examples that he set- but that is indeed what transpired. I grew up in a house filled with love and with countless examples of what it means not just to be a man… but to be a great man. A kind man. A loving man. To be patient, challenging, accepting, encouraging and most importantly- how to love unconditionally.

    To all the father’s out there who might come across this post- you are the first man your daughter will love. The example you set will affect her for the rest of her life.”

    (Happy Father’s Day to all you dads, btw– on earth and in heaven!)

  124. boxerpaws63 says:

    pray that Pope Francis stops talking to the press?

  125. JabbaPapa says:

    In this they refuse the husband’s role as ruler and protector, and the wife’s requirement to honor, respect and obey

    A Protestant conception of marriage, based on mistranslations and misinterpretations of the Scriptures.

    Neither the Traditional nor the Novus Ordo Marriage Rite say anything about “male rulership” and “female obedience”, nor does the Scripture when it is correctly read or translated, nor does the Catechism of the Catholic Church, nor does the Catholic Encyclopedia 1st Edition (even though it was written at the height of Patriarchal domination in our times), and as for the Virtue of Obedience itself, it is something that we are all of us ordered towards each in our own way, and in a properly Catholic conception of obedience in marriage, the spouses are obedient to each other in their distinct ways.

    The Vulgate states :

    Ephesians : {5:22} Mulieres viris suis subditæ sint, sicut Domino:

    {5:25} Viri, diligite uxores vestras, sicut et Christus dilexit Ecclesiam, et seipsum tradidit pro ea

    These are two different manners of mutual obedience of the one to the other, which establish not one as the ruler, the other as the ruled ; but rather these words establish difference in Matrimony of how the Catholic Virtue of Obedience is realised in a husband, and in a wife, and which is intrinsically derived from the genuine nature of masculinity and the genuine nature of femininity, each in their particulars.

    The husband is bound to his wife in service of honour towards her and so makes her needs his obligation, just as the wife is obedient to the more active will of her husband’s masculinity and so makes his decisions in the world her duty to support. (which is, BTW, coherent with a principle of Roman Law that St. Paul’s advice is IMO likely based on — in Roman Law the wife was the head and centre within the household by virtue of her motherhood and the matrimonia itself, while the husband disposed of its goods and conducted its business in the world as the paterfamilias. In modern business terms, as in the relationship between a Chief Operating Officer and a Chief Executive Officer)

    Saint Paul’s comments on women are very VERY frequently mistranslated in Protestant Bibles, and it is extremely unfortunate that some of these mistranslations have been carried over into some of the translations that we Catholics use as well.

  126. PTK_70 says:

    @Matamoros….I think you’ve touched on something important. How much ink has been spilt telling men they need to be more loving, kind and sensitive to their wives! So much lecturing! But to lay the success or failure of marriage entirely on man’s shoulders is a terrible burden to bear. The message is that a man must first be a model of absolute and sustained Christian perfection after which a woman *might* begin to ponder whether the Bible has anything to say to her about being a wife.

    Where are all the books and seminars explaining to Christian women how to be gentle, graceful, cheerful, chaste wives? Where are the women who really embrace the Biblical standard for being a Christian wife? May God multiply their number. In this area it seems to me that Evangelical Protestant women outshine Catholic women.

    If St Paul’s instructions for a healthy Christian marriage no longer hold in 2016, then what’s the new recipe?

  127. AnnTherese says:

    I hope not, boxerpaws63! Look at all the great discussion he has evoked! I trust the Holy Spirit sent us Francis and has important plans for our Church through him. (The disparaging comments I read here about him sadden me. Have faith, people!)

    “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jer 29.11

  128. joan ellen says:

    @ AnnTherese thank you. As I read some of the most recent comments to this post I am getting more convinced we women need to establish more grace in our communications. I came from some strong, hardworking women who were never stingy with graciousness as I know how to be.

    Not only are we harsh to the Holy Father…but to priests as well. Just this weekend when a woman complained about a priest…I, in my stingyness, said…”No. It is not the priest. It is the parishioners who gossip & complain constantly. And it is not just in this parish. It is in all of the parishes I visit. We have got to stop.” I always did like horses! No wonder their are so many broken families.

  129. Matamoros says:

    @Jabba Papa Neither the Traditional nor the Novus Ordo Marriage Rite say anything about “male rulership” and “female obedience”, nor does the Scripture when it is correctly read or translated

    Completely untrue.

    Without trying to write a treatise here, I will simply point out a few facts from scripture, which the Church has traditionally enforced in marriage until the Vatican II disaster. To save space I’m only using the pertinent part.

    These are from the REAL Douay Rheims of 1610:

    I Peter 3:1 – let the women be subject to their husbands
    I Peter 3:6 – As Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: cwhose daughters you are, doing well, and not fearing any perturbation.
    Ephes. 5:22-24 – Let women be subject to their husbands, as to our Lord: Because the man is the head of the woman: as Christ is the head of the CHURCH. Himself, the Saviour of his body. . But as the CHURCH is subject to Christ, so also the women to their husbands in all things.
    Collos. 3:18 – Women be subject to your husbands, as it behoveth in our Lord.
    I Tim. 2:12-14 – Let a woman learn in silence, with all subjection. But to teach I permit not unto a woman, not to have dominion over the man: but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first: then Eve. And Adam was not seduced: but the woman being seduced, was in prevarication.

    [Annotation for 2:12. I permit not. ] In times of licentiousness, liberty, and heresy, women are much given to reading, disputing, chatting, and jangling of the holy Scriptures, yea and to teach also if they might be permitted. But St. Paul utterly forbiddeth it, and the *Greek Doctors upon this place note that the woman taught but once, that was when after her reasoning with Satan, she persuaded her husband to transgression, and so she undid all mankind. And in the Ecclesiastical writers we find that women have been great promoters of every sort of heresy (whereof see a notable discourse in St. Jerome ep. ad Cresiph. cont. Pelag. c. 2) which they would not have done, if they had according to the Apostle’s rule, followed piety and good works, and lived in silence and subjection to their husbands.]

    I Cor. 11:8-9 – For the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man. For the man was not created for the woman, but the woman for the man.

    And, of course, from the beginning:
    Gen. 3: 16 To the woman also he said: I will multiply thy travails, and thy child bearings: in travail shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husbands power, and he shall have dominion over thee.

  130. Matamoros says:

    @AnnTherese Matamoros, your post reminded me of this Facebook post I just read– the part you left out:

    You are doing the typical feminist thing here, pointing to loving your wife and daughter without acknowledging their having to fulfill the dictates of Church and sacred scripture. While your point is okay. it has to be seen in the wider view of marriage and family.

    With women in rebellion against Catholic order and Faith, and their refusal to do what a woman must do to have a real marriage (otherwise she is, as St. Paul speaks of, defrauding her husband). A happy home is a Catholic patriarchal home, the more the distance from this the more disharmony between husband and wife, and parents to children.

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