Pope Francis said that the great majority of contemporary marriages are not valid during a question-and-answer session at the Diocese of Rome’s pastoral congress on Thursday.
The pontiff was asked how the Church might better combat the “crisis of marriage,” and facilitate the entry of young people into the fullness of the sacrament. Francis said modern youth tend toward the provisional, and therefore lack the spiritual disposition real commitment requires. (RELATED: Pope Francis Announces Mother Theresa Will Become Saint)
“It’s provisional, and because of this the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null,” the pope said. “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.”
“They don’t know that it’s indissoluble, they don’t know that it’s for your entire life,” he added.
His comments will add to the ongoing theological debate occasioned by the Pope’s most recent apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, which addressed family life. Francis was criticized by Catholic commentators for his repeated reference to marriage as an “ideal” as opposed to an objective reality that is lived by the faithful.
The pontiff concluded his remarks on the subject by noting that marriage preparation is the most challenging pastoral ministry.
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