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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 19 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 38
Pope marries 20 nontraditional couples
Section One
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Pope marries 20 nontraditional couples

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

In his first wedding since being elected Pope last year, Pope Francis married 20 nontraditional couples at St. Peter's Basilica on September 14. It was the first time a Pope has conducted a mass wedding service since John Paul II married eight couples in 2000.

Those married by Pope Francis were what the Vatican chose to call 'modern' couples, including people the Roman Catholic Church would previously have refused to marry - couples who had been divorced or who had children from previous relationships.

'There are those who are already cohabiting, those who already have children, who got to know each other in Church,' the Vatican said.

For example, one woman, identified as Gabriella Improta in La Repubblica newspaper, has an older daughter from a previous marriage and will marry a man who had his marriage annulled.

An annulled marriage is one that is declared invalid by the Church, and the man in question would have been entitled to another Church wedding, but the Church does not recognize divorce, and divorced people would formerly not have been allowed to remarry within the Church.

'We didn't feel worthy or able to meet the requirements of a good Catholic couple,' Gabriella told the newspaper. 'But the Church under the leadership of Pope Francis has welcomed and embraced us.

'This Pope is marvelous; he is renewing the Church. Not even non-believers can remain indifferent to his drive and his disarming simplicity.'

In the homily he preached at the wedding service, the Pope referred to the couples as the 'bricks that build society.'

The Pope has warned that the Catholic Church must end its obsession with teachings on abortion, contraception, and Gay sex, and become more merciful or risk collapsing 'like a house of cards.' The Pope continues to oppose Gay and Lesbian weddings, although he has suggested he might support some form of relationship recognition that provided financial security to partners and children.

Tracey Byrne, chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, said it was 'impossible' not to feel hopeful about the Pope's renewed engagement with real people's relationships, commitments, and marriages.

'For the ordinary couples involved, this must have been a wonderful occasion, and at LGCM we're delighted for them, as well as hoping this signals something positive for the many gay and lesbian Catholics who long to have their relationships recognized by their church,' she said.

'We've a long way to go, but this and the meeting of the Catholic bishops, really does seem to suggest an increased willingness to discern God at work in new ways in real people's lives.'

According to the Catholic News Service, the mass wedding took place only weeks before a scheduled Synod of Bishops that will deal with the institution of marriage, among other topics. The international meeting of bishops is scheduled for October 5 through 19. As preparation for the Synod, the Vatican sent out a survey about the Church's standing in public opinion and how it can be improved.

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