Pope Francis said that majority of Catholic marriages today are invalid because most couples do not fully understand what lifetime commitment is.
“We are living in a provisional culture,” Francis said in response to a man who asked about “the crisis of marriage” and how the church could better prepare young couples.
“Because of this, a great majority of our sacramental marriages are null because they (the couple) say ‘yes, for the rest of my life’ but they don’t know what they are saying because they have a different culture.”
He added that modern couples don’t realize the importance of the sacrament of marriage, which he said is “indissoluble.”
“Young people say ‘for life,’ but they do not know what it means,” he said, adding “And because they get married with the philosophy that a marriage can be ended if it becomes an ‘inconvenience,’ their marriages are ‘null.’”
However, Francis later approved a revision of his remarks following his unscripted comments that “the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null,”
The Vatican released its official transcript and changed the comment saying that “a portion of our sacramental marriages are null.”
While Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said that the change is a revision approved by the Pope himself, he stated that the Pope’s off-the-cuff remarks are sometimes edited after consulting with him or among aides.
“When they touch on subjects of a certain importance, the revised text is always submitted to the Pope himself,” said Fr. Lombardi. “This is what happened in this case, so the published text was expressly approved by the Pope.”
Francis’ words drove critics to think that the Pope was implying that most Catholics do not take their marriage vows seriously.
A conservative Catholic writer and columnist, Ross Douthat, said in his tweet that Francis had made “an extraordinary, irresponsible and ridiculous claim”.
Editor Matthew Schmitz called the Pope “wrong and irresponsible,” while Edward Peters, a U.S. canon lawyer who has been an adviser to the Vatican, wrote that the Pope’s words were “very bad” because they could encourage couples in difficult marriages to “give up now” instead of trying to overcome problems.
However, Pope Francis said he attributed the marriage crisis to people who “don’t know what the sacrament is” and don’t know “the beauty of the sacrament.”
“They don’t know that it’s indissoluble, they don’t know that it’s for your entire life. It’s hard,” Francis said. (PCH)