Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Getting married in church is a right only if you believe in "true marriage” that is, an act for the realization of the “integral good, human and Christian, of the spouses and of their future children, ultimately projected towards the holiness of their lives". From here, follows the importance of preparation for Christian marriage, also to avoid annulments, which were at the heart of Benedict XVI address delivered today to members of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, received at the beginning of the judicial year.
"The canonical dimension of marriage preparation – began the Pope - is perhaps not an immediately perceived element" both because the preparation phase holds "a very modest, if not insignificant, place ", and because "there is a widespread mentality that the examination of the spouses, the publication of banns and other appropriate means to carry out the necessary pre-marital investigations, of which marriage preparation courses are a part, are purely formal obligations. In fact, it is often assumed that, in admitting the couples for marriage, pastors should proceed with speed, as it regards the natural right of people to marry".
The fact, however, is that "there is no marriage of lives and another of law: there is only one marriage, which is constitutionally a real legal bond between a man and a woman, a bond based on the true dynamics of conjugal life and love. The marriage celebrated by the spouses, the marriage that is dealt with both pastorally and in canonical doctrine, are one single natural and salvific reality, the wealth of which certainly gives rise to a variety of approaches, however without ever losing its essential identity. The legal aspect is intrinsically linked to the essence of marriage. This is understandable in light of a non-positivistic concept of law, but considered from the perspective of relationality according to justice. "
Therefore, the "right" to marriage in church, "presupposes that the individuals can and intend to really celebrate it, in the truth of its essence as taught by the Church. No one has the right to a wedding ceremony", because the right to marry "refers to the right to celebrate an authentic marriage". The "right to marry, then, would be denied "where it was obvious that the basis for its exercise are absent, where the required capacity to marry is obviously lacking, or where the will poses an objective that is in contrast to the natural reality of marriage. "
Marriage preparation, therefore, is an issue that requires "the greatest pastoral care" in the formation of the couple and in "testing their convictions regarding the obligations required for the validity of the Sacrament of Marriage. Serious discernment in this matter will avoid impulsive decisions or superficial reasons that lead two young people to take on responsibilities that they will not know how to honour".
Given the different means available for a "careful preparation and examination” among which " the pre-marital exam stands out", an effective pastoral action aimed at preventing marriage annulments can be developed. All efforts must be made to stop, as much as possible, the vicious circle that often occurs in the granting of admission to marriage, without adequate preparation or a serious examination of the requirements for its celebration, and a judicial declaration that sometimes just as easily, but of an opposite nature, considers marriage invalid solely on the basis of finding in favour of failure. It is true that not all reasons for a possible declaration of nullity can be detected or perceived in preparation for marriage, but, equally, it would be wrong to hinder access to marriage on the basis of unfounded assumptions, such as, believing that nowadays, people are generally incapable or have only an apparent matrimonial will”. For this reason, even though canon law requires specific and particular knowledge, all those committed in the pastoral field must be aware of their responsibilities in this area.