Couples with kids, cohabitating are among those marrying at papal Mass

Newly married couples watch as Pope Francis leads his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Sept. 10. The pope will marry # couples Sept. 14. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Newly married couples watch as Pope Francis leads his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Sept. 10. The pope will marry 20 couples from the Diocese of Rome Sept. 14. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Among the men and women Pope Francis was set to unite in marriage were Catholics who have been living together as well as couples who already have children.

The pope, who is the bishop of Rome, will preside over his first wedding ceremony as pontiff during a nuptial Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica Sept. 14.

The event, which will see 20 couples from the Diocese of Rome celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage, was organized by the vicariate of Rome.

“Those who will get married Sunday are couples like many others,” the diocese said in a press release Sept. 10.

The ages of the brides and grooms range from the youngest being 25 to the oldest being 56, the vicariate said.

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It said the couples also come from all kinds of situations with some “who have been engaged for a long period of time or for not as long; there are those who are already cohabitating; who already have children; who got to know each other in church,” it said.

While cohabitation is not in itself a canonical impediment to marriage, it is contrary to the church’s teaching on marriage and sexual love. The church urges that pastoral ministers help couples preparing for marriage by showing them the witness of Christian family life in such a way as they may regularize their situation before their wedding ceremony.

One of the brides, identified only as Gabriella, has never been married, but she had a daughter when she was quite young, she told the Italian daily La Repubblica Sept. 9. Her grown daughter will also attend the ceremony at the Vatican, Gabriella said.

Gabriella’s fiance, Guido, has had an annulment, the newspaper said.

“We’ve known each other for five years and our wanting to get married in the church stems from no longer wanting to live in a union and with feelings that are deprived of some of the sacraments,” the couple said.

When their parish told them about the possibility of having their marriage in the church presided over by the pope, they said they were shocked. “We didn’t feel worthy, because of our age and personal background.”

The papal Mass celebrating the couples’ marriage will come just a few weeks before the start of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family, Oct. 5-19.

Pope Francis has said the church’s pastoral approach to helping couples must be “intelligent, courageous and full of love” because the family today is “looked down upon and mistreated.”

He told the world’s cardinals in February that reflections on the family “must keep before us the beauty of the family and marriage, the greatness of this human reality, which is so simple, yet so rich, made up of joys and hopes, of struggles and sufferings.”

The mid-September ceremony will be the first public papal celebration of a wedding since 2000, when St. John Paul II joined in marriage eight couples from different parts of the world as part of the Jubilee for Families. He also publicly presided over another joint wedding for a group of couples in 1994 as part of his celebration of the International Year of the Family.

By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service.


  1. Those who live in sin before they are married are under the power and control of satan — the consequences of this mortal sin include using each other as sex objects, the murder of unborn babies through abortifacient contraceptives and abortions, the contraction and transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, physical and psychological abuse resultant from these illicit and indecent relationships, long term mental problems that invariably result from such evil relationships (when not repented of), and the mocking and immolation of the Mystical Body of Christ (i.e., the Church). Remember the wages of sin in death!

    Christians, in name only, engaged in such premarital sex and cohabitating relationships can be forgiven, if they are truly sincere, through the Catholic sacrament of confession. This means, first, they break off their illicit and indecent relationships and cohabitationships with opposite sex partners and, second, for such respective partners still contemplating marriage that they, after a decent period of breaking off there illicit relationships, engage in prayerful discernment and seek counseling from a “good” Catholic priest with respect to whether they should still go through with marriage that may not, otherwise, survive for very long.

    Based on the foregoing, while unrepentant couples may attempt to exchange Christian sacramental nuptial vows, the Holy Trinity will clearly and certainly will not recognize past, present and future attempts at marriage where couples have not sincerely repented of any of the foregoing sins that inevitably bring death to the unrepentant souls engaged in these sins. Unrepentance can never make and invalid contract of marriage between couples and God valid. God cannot be mocked!

    • your prescription, Lukas77, appears to me to be a theology that one must save one’s self before one can come to the christ. there is a more pastoral approach that is more effective. it follows the example of the good shepherd who goes and finds the straying sheep. it looks to the father who seeing his son return gives a large banquet to celebrate.

      you seem to offer a rule book. o’k. you want to return? do this and this and this and if i think you are sincere enough, i’ll let you.

      the pope is suggesting that the church must be concerned, open, welcoming to all. it must first offer aid and hope and love. then help the person straighten out their lives. it would appear that this is what has happened in this case of the marriages. people have been brought home. they are embracing each other and christ. they are open to spiritual growth.

      rejoice. the holy spirit is winning. whether or not your rule book is being followed to the last letter.


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