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Pope Marries Cohabitating Couple

By Thursday, 18 September 2014 10:09 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Pope Francis’ decision to marry a cohabiting couple last Sunday has brought a mixed reaction from Catholics and a predictable reaction from much of the media.
Supporters of the move say it shows how much the Holy Father wishes to place the church’s focus on God’s mercy. In his homily, the Pope said Christ would bring them “healing by the merciful love which pours forth from the Cross.” With the “strength of his grace,” he said, Christ sets married couples and families on “the right path.”
The Pope, some moral theologians say, was simply doing what the whole church wants to do, which is to encourage people to cease living in a relationship that the church has always taught to be “objectively, morally wrong.” Studies back up the church’s guidance and show that cohabiting couples are more likely to divorce than couple who do not.
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But even though the Pope’s motives have been praised, the world’s media saw it as a tacit acceptance of cohabitation, suggesting the church was coming round to changing its approach to the matter to align itself with the world rather than basing it on faith in Christ.
“Very slowly, the church under the guidance of Pope Francis is facing the fact that many Catholic couples cohabit before marriage [and] use contraception freely,” the BBC reported, implying the church had never confronted these realities before.
The media’s misperception of the Pope’s actions, however, point to a more serious problem: that the couple were “already cohabiting,” suggesting that they were doing so when Pope Francis married them. The church has no custom of marrying people who are currently living in sin. To do so, therefore, is a cause of scandal: The couple has engaged in a public sin and so have to show they have repented publicly, preferably by demonstrably living separately before getting married. Failure to do so leads others to think that a true repentance hasn’t taken place.
You cannot have mercy without conversion, and you cannot have conversion without a realization of sin, so the argument goes, and therefore to continue living in sin suggests that that realization hasn’t taken place.
Because of this, critics stress the church, whose primary duty is the care of souls, can never condone such a situation and, in fraternal charity, she demands that the couple know they are living in a sinful condition. “It’s not being pharisaical,” one critic told me. “It’s what the church has perennially taught. To sweep aside 2,000 years of practice is un-Christian, and the fact that the church has taught this for so long means it has to be important.”
Francis: Who Is Pope Francis? Book Reveals the Man

Pope Francis is no doubt aware of this and the couple in question may well have been instructed along these lines before their wedding last Sunday. The vagueness of the press release also could be read that they were living separately. But if so, the question remains: Why didn’t the Vatican make this clearer to the media to allay the confusion and media misinterpretation?
Rather than use the gesture as an opportunity to show what the church really teaches, critics are frustrated that the Vatican has again allowed the church’s enemies to have the upper hand. But the Pope is also coming in for some criticism: Too often, his detractors say, he’s allowed his comments and gestures to be misinterpreted to suit a more secular worldview.
Edward Pentin began reporting on the Vatican as a correspondent with Vatican Radio in 2002. He has covered the Pope and the Holy See for a number of publications, including Newsweek and The Sunday Times. Read more reports from Edward Pentin — Click Here Now.

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Pope Francis’ decision to marry a cohabiting couple last Sunday has brought a mixed reaction from Catholics and a predictable reaction from much of the media.
Pope, Marries, Cohabitating, Couple
Thursday, 18 September 2014 10:09 AM
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