Vatican City, Jan 21, 2017 / 09:45 am
In his annual speech to the Holy See's main court on Saturday, Pope Francis stressed the pressing need for effective education and preparation for the sacrament of marriage – not only to guard against invalid marriages, but also to strengthen the faith of the couple as they prepare for the unique blessings and challenges of married life.
“The goal of this preparation consists, namely, in helping engaged couples to know and to live the reality of marriage as it is intended to be celebrated, so that it is possible to do so not only validly and lawfully, but also fruitfully, so that they are able to make this celebration a stage of their journey of faith,” Pope Francis said.
“In this spirit, I would reiterate the need for a 'new catechumenate' in preparation for marriage,” he said in his Jan. 21 address to the judges of the Roman Rota at the Vatican's Clementine Hall.
“Welcoming the guidance of the Fathers of the last Ordinary Synod, it is urgent to implement effectively what has already been proposed in Familiaris Consortio (no. 66),” he said.
“That is, as for the baptism of adults the catechumenate is part of the sacramental process, so the preparation for marriage must become an integral part of all sacramental marriage procedure, as an antidote that prevents the increase of invalid or tenuous marriage celebrations.”
The Pope delivers a speech to the members of the Rota, a court of higher instance at the Holy See, each January to inaugurate the court's judicial year.
In this year’s speech, Francis noted that the breakdown of faith, religious values, and belief in eternal truths, particularly regarding the family, has become widespread even among Christians, which can impact the awareness and consent with which people enter into the sacrament.
At the same time, the different backgrounds and experiences of faith of those seeking Christian marriage cannot be ignored, he said. “Some participate actively in parish life; others will come for the first time; some also have a life of intense prayer; others are, however, driven by a more generic religious sentiment.”