In a short but already overheated papacy littered as no pontificate before with an avalanche of papal words, Francis' remarks during his Q & A on June 16, 2016 are surely among the worst that he has spoken.
[NC: One important editorial note. This morning, the Vatican released a transcript of the papal talk, scandalously tampering with what was really said by the Pope. What the Pope said, and was recorded, and is available on video here (starts at 1:14:20), was, "una grande maggioranza dei nostri matrimoni sacramentali sono nulli" ("a great majority of our Sacramental matrimonies are null"). The transcript released by the Vatican says, "una parte", "a part/portion", instead of "a great majority".]
I. What the Pope said on sacramental marriages and cohabitation.
For the record:
Pope Francis said Thursday that the great majority of sacramental marriages today are not valid, because couples do not enter into them with a proper understanding of permanence and commitment.And also this:
“We live in a culture of the provisional,” the Pope said in impromptu remarks June 16. After addressing the Diocese of Rome’s pastoral congress, he held a question-and-answer session.
A layman asked about the “crisis of marriage” and how Catholics can help educate youth in love, help them learn about sacramental marriage, and help them overcome “their resistance, delusions and fears.”
The Pope answered from his own experience.
“I heard a bishop say some months ago that he met a boy that had finished his university studies, and said ‘I want to become a priest, but only for 10 years.’ It’s the culture of the provisional. And this happens everywhere, also in priestly life, in religious life,” he said.
“It’s provisional, and because of this the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null. Because they say “yes, for the rest of my life!” but they don’t know what they are saying. Because they have a different culture. They say it, they have good will, but they don’t know.”
He added that a majority of couples attending marriage prep courses in Argentina typically cohabitated.(Source: Catholic News Agency, “Most marriages today are invalid, Pope Francis suggests.” June 16, 2016.)
“They prefer to cohabitate, and this is a challenge, a task. Not to ask ‘why don’t you marry?’ No, to accompany, to wait, and to help them to mature, help fidelity to mature.”
He said that in Argentina’s northeast countryside, couples have a child and live together. They have a civil wedding when the child goes to school, and when they become grandparents they “get married religiously.”
“It’s a superstition, because marriage frightens the husband. It’s a superstition we have to overcome,” the Pope said. “I’ve seen a lot of fidelity in these cohabitations, and I am sure that this is a real marriage, they have the grace of a real marriage because of their fidelity, but there are local superstitions, etc.”
It should be pointed out that Pope Francis did not merely "suggest" that most sacramental marriages are invalid; he actually stated it, straight out, as a fact. Nevertheless it is a pleasant surprise that CNA has come out with a headline that, at least, does not try to completely bury the outrageous character of what the Pope just said.
At this point, keep reading. Rorate laments that “if indeed the great majority of sacramental marriages are null, then the Church has been running a scam since time immemorial when it comes to the Sacrament of Matrimony.”
Of course, I would tell you that the Roman Church has been running a scam in every way since about the year 250 AD, starting with its claims of a papacy.