Amoris Laetitia 75: Who Ministers, Who Supports

amoris laetitia memeMore reviewing of Church teaching. Something of a view distinct from that of Eastern Christianity, that the wife and husband are the ministers of the sacrament:

75. In the Church’s Latin tradition, the ministers of the sacrament of marriage are the man and the woman who marry;(Cf. Pius XII, Encyclical Letter Mystici Corporis Christi 202: “Matrimonio enim quo coniuges sibi invicem sunt ministri gratiae …”) by manifesting their consent and expressing it physically, they receive a great gift.

It’s not something pelagian. How Pope Francis describes it is traditional: two persons make a choice and in cooperating with the Lord they are open to grace.

Their consent and their bodily union are the divinely appointed means whereby they become “one flesh”.

What sacrament enables and supports this? Baptism:

By their baptismal consecration, they were enabled to join in marriage as the Lord’s ministers and thus to respond to God’s call.

Baptism “activates” the sacramentality of a non-Christian marriage:

Hence, when two non-Christian spouses receive baptism, they need not renew their marriage vows; they need simply not reject them, since by the reception of baptism their union automatically becomes sacramental.

The witness of the ordained is not always necessary:

Canon Law also recognizes the validity of certain unions celebrated without the presence of an ordained minister.(Cf. Code of Canon Law, cc. 1116; 1161-1165; Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, 832; 848-852.) The natural order has been so imbued with the redemptive grace of Jesus that “a valid matrimonial contract cannot exist between the baptized without it being by that fact a sacrament”.(Code of Canon Law 1055 §2)

Church requirements do not detract from the primary ministers of the sacrament:

The Church can require that the wedding be celebrated publicly, with the presence of witnesses and other conditions that have varied over the course of time, but this does not detract from the fact that the couple who marry are the ministers of the sacrament. Nor does it affect the centrality of the consent given by the man and the woman, which of itself establishes the sacramental bond.

Perhaps Roman Catholics lack some awareness of the role of God in the marriage liturgy:

This having been said, there is a need for further reflection on God’s action in the marriage rite; this is clearly manifested in the Oriental Churches through the importance of the blessing that the couple receive as a sign of the gift of the Spirit.

This is not a novel thought from Pope Francis. Overlooking the role of the Holy Spirit is not an exclusive error in our views on marriage.

Lots of churchy talk. Any comments?

For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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