An important reminder in this section includes the Church’s stance that any marriage between baptized Christians is sacramental, even if it is contracted by two non-Catholics. It is baptism that defines the nature of Christian marriage, not sacramental belief or union with Rome.
Then there follows a long quote from Pope Francis. Let’s read:
24. The Church, a sure teacher and caring mother, recognizes that the only marriage bond for those who are baptized is sacramental and any breach of it is against the will of God. At the same time, the Church is conscious of the weakness of many of her children who are struggling in their journey of faith. “Consequently, without detracting from the evangelical ideal, they need to accompany with mercy and patience the eventual stages of personal growth as these progressively occur. […] A small step in the midst of great human limitations can be more pleasing to God than a life which outwardly appears in order and passes the day without confronting great difficulties. Everyone needs to be touched by the comfort and attraction of God’s saving love, which is mysteriously at work in each person, above and beyond their faults and failings.”(Gaudium Evangelii, 44).
The Holy Father cites the principle of “more joy in heaven.” Decidedly countercultural, even in the Church’s eyes sometimes, that perfection an order are not the goals of life in Christ. Even the sacramental life is focused on a more vital aspect, namely conversion. As we encounter Christ in the sacraments, we are urged and nudged to transcend faults over which we often have little control. Marriage is a means to a more selfless way of life, even among those who are not Catholics, or even Christians. As such, marriage holds great hope for human redemption. When we realize this, we will be drawn closer to a life partner as well as embraced tenderly by God.
170 bishops approved of this statement. 11 disapproved. 2 did not vote.