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January 28 2011 £1.20 (Republic of Ireland €1.70)
Pope: Church must take more care in preparing couples for marriage
BY CINDY WOODEN IN ROME AND ANNA ARCO IN LONDON
THE CHURCH must take better care in preparing couples for marriage, Pope Benedict XVI has said.
In his annual speech to the Roman Rota, the Vatican tribunal which deals mainly with marriage cases, the Pope called for people preparing couples for marriage to place more focus on Canon Law.
Pope Benedict said he wanted to focus on the legal, or juridical, aspect of Catholic marriage preparation programmes, because too often engaged couples – and even those preparing them for marriage – consider the courses simply a bureaucratic hurdle to overcome before the wedding.
“In fact, often it is assumed that the priest must act with largesse, since the natural right of persons to marry is at stake,” the Pope said, but for the Catholic Church marriage has a juridical reality and the right of Catholic couples to celebrate the sacrament can be exercised only if they fully understand what they are doing.
Pope Benedict said that anyone involved in marriage preparation programmes, but especially the priest conducting the obligatory pre-marriage interviews with the potential bride and potential groom, has an obligation to ensure there is nothing standing in the way of a valid and licit celebration of the sacrament. For the marriage to be valid the couple must understand the commitment being undertaken, he said.
Parish priests, volunteers and marriage tribunal officials together “must work to interrupt to the extent possible the vicious cycle frequently noted of too easily allowing couples to marry without adequate preparation” and “the sometimes equally easy judicial declaration” that a marriage is invalid, the Pope said. Both approaches give people a sense that the Catholic Church no longer sees marriage as truly binding, he explained.
Pope Benedict XVI meets members of the Roman Rota, the Church’s highest appelate tribunal
For the Catholic Church, marriage is a sacrament that is witnessed by a priest or deacon, but performed by the couple, who promise that their union will be forever and that they will be open to having and educating children, the Pope said. While the Pope said that couples had a natural right to a wedding, they did not necessarily have a right to a Catholic wedding if they did not appreciate what the Church teaches about marriage.
He said: “The right to contract marriage presupposes that one is able to and intends to truly celebrate it, that is, in the truth of its essence as taught by the Church.”
Because the Church has a very specific understanding of what marriage is “no one can claim the right to a marriage ceremony” in the Church, the Pope said.
Priests in Britain welcomed the Holy Father’s comments.
Fr Timothy Finigan, blogger and parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary in Blackfen, Kent,
said: “It’s very difficult for any priest to tell people they can’t get married. But what Pope Benedict seems to be saying is not that people do not have a natural right to get married but that the right to a nuptial Mass is not a given.”
He said the Pope was focusing on Canon Law’s pastoral side. He said that often during marriage
AP Photo/L’Osservatore Romano preparation the canonical aspects of marriage are pushed into the background.
He said: “What he is saying is, we have all these annulments, people aren’t properly prepared. In courses for marriage preparation canonical questions have a modest place and they should have a more prominent place.
They are something that is at the heart of marriage and therefore are pastoral.
“Preparation for marriage should be about characteristics of unity – for example, procreation and children – which theologically are what marriage is about. He is saying that people getting married should be prepared to undertake Christian marriage. So, for example, in the case where a couple is not prepared to have children they are not understanding what Christian marriage entails.”
Fr Peter Newby, parish priest of St Mary Moorfields in the City of London and former chaplain at Oxford University, said: “You have to lead them into the sacrament. Most of the people who come to get married intend to stay married. If they didn’t think so, they wouldn’t be coming to the Church. They would just live together.
“But you often find couples who have lived together for a long time who think marriage is somehow something different. It is essential for them to be prepared, which is why we have marriage preparation in the first place.
“Every baptised Catholic has the right to get married in the Church, but they also have to be prepared for it, like all the sacraments. Of course there’s a lot we can’t teach, which you learn on the job, but it’s helping them get into the right frame of mind.”
Fr Newby, who runs popular day-long marriage preparation courses, added: “You do find couples looking around for churches. It’s no surprise that the highest number of annulments come from attractive central London churches.”
Prominent churches often attract people simply looking for a venue to get married, he suggested.
He said: “There are always people who will work the system but you can’t base yourself on that assumption. You always have to hope that they are coming with the right intentions, otherwise you just become a complete cynic.”
Pope Benedict urges youth to spread Gospel on social networks
BY ANNA ARCO
BENEDICT XVI has called on young people to use online social networks to spread the Gospel.
Only two years after Pope Benedict had to make a public apology for not having checked the internet before a major controversy, the Holy Father urged Christians to sign up to social networks on the internet.
In his annual message for World Communications Day,
he said: “I would like then to invite Christians, confidently and with an informed and responsible creativity, to join the network of relationships which the digital era has made possible. This is not simply to satisfy the desire to be present, but because this network is an integral part of human life.
“The web is contributing to the development of new and more complex intellectual and spiritual horizons, new forms of shared awareness. In this field too we are called to proclaim our faith that Christ is God, the Saviour of humanity and of history, the one in whom all things find their fulfilment.”
The Pope said that proclaiming the Gospel “requires a communication which is at once respectful and sensitive, which stimulates the heart and moves the conscience; one which reflects the example of the risen Jesus when he joined the disciples on the way to Emmaus”.
Benedict XVI said that advances in modern communications resembled the advances of the Industrial Revolution. New technologies not only changed the way people communicate, but also were providing a “new way of learning and thinking” which presented an opportunity for “establishing relationships and building fellowships”.
Vatican Notebook: Page 4 Editorial Comment: Page 13
School apologises for World War III event
Actor to fund largest pro-life clinic in US
BY HUW TWISTON DAVIES
THE HEADTEACHER of a Catholic primary school has apologised after convincing pupils that World War III had broken out during assembly.
Mike Richards, headteacher of St Mary’s Roman Catholic school in Bacup, Lancashire, announced at morning assembly that war had been declared, and that London was being bombed.
The children were then shown a film of the Blitz and led to a cellar, where an airraid siren sounded and a firework was let off to simulate a bomb. The project was abandoned after some children became upset. Staff came up with the idea to help children understand what living through the Second World War was like.
Mr Richards said: “The idea of it was to get the children to empathise with what it was like. Unfortunately we made it too real. We spent the rest of the afternoon explaining to them that it wasn’t.”
BY ANNA ARCO
A Hollywood actor has unveiled plans to build the biggest pro-life clinic in the United States.
Eduardo Verástegui, the Mexican star of Bella, has announced that his charity’s Los Angeles medical centre for women considering abortions will become the largest in America. It is down the road from 10 abortion clinics and sets out to help women in need.
The actor made the announcement during the first gala for his pro-life charity, the Mantle of Guadalupe, which he hosted with other Hollywood actors and the Catholic charities of Los
Mr Verástegui told guests: “I will not use my talents except to elevate my Christian, pro-
life and Hispanic values.” He also introduced mothers who had been helped by the charity to guests.
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