Mile-High … Marriage?

See the source imageFrom what I hear in pastoral ministry circles, the term “convalidation” is heading out the door. I’m sure there’s a reason. It’s likely a good one.

Much cooing over Pope Francis doing something to regularize/recognize/bless a civil marriage between two Catholics on that plane last week. As usual, the canon lawyers are among the loudest objectors

I cannot tell whether the ‘wedding’ that the pope put together for an unsuspecting couple satisfies Church requirements on marriage, and several other laws impacting the liceity of marriage seem simply to have been disregarded in the event.

Wedding? To begin with, marriage is a human act, even if it takes place between two Catholics. The quotes around wedding don’t really advance any sort of argument. As the media reported the event, there was hand-holding, ring-blessing, and some words and handwriting from the Holy Father. If a couple has been married seven-plus years and has established a home, children, and all, I think the presumption is that they are married. The wedding is in the past. Quotes not needed. Naturally, if said Catholic couple has never had a rite in a church then their sacramental standing within Church law is unrecognized. But I think Pope Francis acknowledges that something is there. At least when a Catholic wants to “get out” of a civil marriage, there is paperwork to accomplish.

The news report I saw mentioned holding hands and blessing of rings. That’s not quite everything in the Rite of Matrimony. A couple needs to exchange vows. Believe it or not, rings and hand-holding are optional. So when canonist Ed Peters complains …

… several canons impacting the liceity of weddings were apparently ignored here …

… I’m not so sure, despite his list.

On fb, I objected to the tone of this …

If I have to say it, I will: I hope Podest and Ciuffardi are married and that they live happily ever after …

I wrote there that not only does he have to say it, he has to mean it. Otherwise, a front porch beckons per Luke 15:28-32. The couple, despite being Catholic, are indeed married. The sacramental nature of the union is what is up for debate. But a civil marriage is, last time I looked, a significant commitment in most human cultures.

About catholicsensibility

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