A host of media outlets have shown surprise that Pope Francis would officiate the wedding ceremony of couples with a sinful past.
On August 29, the Vatican confirmed that Pope Francis would be celebrating the wedding ceremony of 20 couples in St. Peter’s Basilica on September 14. This will be his first time officiating the marriage ceremony as pope, something his immediate predecessor never did. The event will take place just over two weeks before the Vatican will begin a formal summit to study the question of contemporary marriage.
The diocese of Rome, which is organizing the ceremony, said the 20 couples being married range in age from those in their mid-20s to those in their 50s and include “those who are already living together, those who already have children, those who met in church.” One of the women getting married, for instance, has a grown-up daughter from a previous relationship and will marry a man who was previously married but obtained an annulment.
Some in the media have said that Francis’ decision to marry couples who are living in sin is a sign of his desire for a church that cares less about morals than it does about the conversion of souls. Others expressed shock at the situation of some of the couples, as if Francis were condoning their prior choices by marrying them. Yet another announced that Francis will be wedding couples in “irregular” partnerships.
These stories may be missing the point, according to Church insiders. Breitbart spoke with Father John Paul Wauck, a professor at Rome’s Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. Wauck disagreed with the idea that the Pope is somehow holding up alternative lifestyles as okay. “Marriage is a path toward holiness,” Wauck remarked, “not a reward for good behavior.” The choice of these couples to celebrate the sacrament of marriage is a beautiful step, he said, “which shouldn’t be a cause for surprise, but rather a cause for celebration.”
“What could be more appropriate and beautiful than the pope helping these couples transform a sinful relationship into something holy–the sacrament of matrimony. That’s what the Church exists for,” Wauck added.
Another expert, Father Edward McNamara, Dean of the Theology School and professor of sacramental theology at Rome’s Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum, told Breitbart that the choice of the 20 couples to be married by Francis “mirrors the situation of any parish in Rome” and was simply a “representative sample” of the people approaching the Church to get married today.
Pope Francis, said McNamara, “is simply showing the reality of the Church as she is and, in a way, as she always has been. The Church is an expert in humanity. It knows that people can take occasional wrong turns and is always there to help them get back on track.”