Christian marriage is not "an ideal for the few, this despite modern models centred on the ephemeral and the transient,” but is a reality that “can be experienced by all the baptised faithful.” However, “those who, by choice or unhappy circumstances of life, live in an objective state of error, are still the object of Christ’s merciful love and thus of the Church itself."
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis on Friday said that "There can be no confusion between the family as willed by God and every other type of union'. This is “the essential truth of marriage according to God's design”. The Holy Father spoke before to the Roman Rota, the Vatican court, on the occasion of the inauguration of the new judicial year.
The pope's words stem from a reflection on two "complementary" prerogatives of the Rota, i.e. "family court" and "Court of the truth of the sacred bond". In view of this, the pontiff recommends that the Rota consider "very carefully" errors concerning the "sacramental character of marriage." For "The Church, in fact, can show God’s unfailing merciful love towards families, especially those injured by sin and trials of life, whilst at the same time proclaim the essential truth of marriage according to God's plan.”
Such a pastoral attitude means that, even when the Church "seeks to declare the truth about marriage in actual cases, for the good of the faithful, it will equally remember those who, by choice or unhappy circumstances of life, live in an objective state of error, and are [therefore] still the object of Christ’s merciful love and thus of the Church itself."
"The family, founded on indissoluble, unitive and procreative marriage,” he said, “belongs to the 'dream' of God and his Church for humanity’s salvation. As the Blessed Paul VI said, the Church has always ‘looked at the family and its problems in a special way, full of concern and love. Through marriage and the family, God has skilfully combined two of the most important human realities: the mission to pass on life and the mutual and legitimate love of man and woman, in which they are called to complement each other in mutual giving, not only in physical terms but also in spiritual terms. More to the point, God wants spouses to share his life, the personal love that He has for each of them in which he calls them to help each other and give themselves to each other so as to reach the fullness of their personal lives; as well as share the love that he brings to humanity and to all his children, and for which he wants the children of men to multiply to make them share his life and his eternal happiness.’"
“The Church, as ‘mother and teacher", knows that, among Christians, "some have a strong faith, based on charity, strengthened by good catechesis and nurtured by prayer and the sacramental life, whilst others have a weak faith, neglected and untrained, poorly educated, or forgotten. It must be clearly said that the quality of faith is not an essential condition for marital consent, which, according to the doctrine [. . .], can be undermined only at a natural level (cf. CIC, can. 1055 § 1 and 2). In fact, the habitus fidei is infused at the time of Baptism and continues to have mysterious influence on the soul, even when the faith has not been developed and seems to be psychologically absent. It is not uncommon for the engaged, pushed into real marriage by the instinctus naturae, to have a limited awareness of the fullness of God's plan when they celebrate the marriage. Only afterwards, as their family life unfold, do they discover all that God the Creator and Redeemer has set out for them. The lack of preparation in the faith and error concerning the unity or indissolubility or sacramental dignity of marriage do not vitiate matrimonial consent provided that it does not determine the will (cf. CIC, can. 1099). Exactly for this reason, errors that touch the sacramental nature of marriage must be weighed very carefully."
"Therefore, with a renewed sense of responsibility, the Church continues to propose marriage, in its essential elements – children, the couple’s welfare, unity, indissolubility, sacramental nature – not as an ideal for the few, and this despite modern models centred on the ephemeral and the transient, but as a reality that, in the grace of Christ, can be experienced by all the baptised faithful. What is more, and for a still stronger reason, the pastoral urgency, which involves all the structures of the Church, leads us to converge towards a common and ordered purpose towards the proper preparation for marriage, some sort of new catechumenate, which some Synodal Fathers wished for so much.
“Dear brothers,” said the pope in concluding his address, “the age in which we live is very demanding both for families and for us pastors who are called to accompany them. Cognizant of this, I wish you good work in the new year that the Lord has given us. I assure you of my prayers and I count on yours. May Our Lady and Saint Joseph enable the Church to grow in the family spirit and may families feel more as a lively and active part of the people of God."