Skip to comments.Pope To Roman Rota: Never Forget the Sacramentality of Marriage
Posted on 01/31/2003 9:00:29 AM PST by Loyalist
VATICAN CITY, JAN 30, 2003 (VIS) - To start the juridical year the dean, judges, promoters of justice, defenders of the bond, officials and lawyers of the Roman Rota celebrate Mass in the Pauline Chapel in the Vatican, after which the Holy Father receives and addresses them, as Canon 1442 states, as "the supreme judge for the entire Catholic world."
In his talk today to the Rota, Pope John Paul noted that requests for marriage annulments comprise the greatest number of cases that this tribunal receives and he acknowledged the "profound crisis currently buffeting matrimony and the family," alluded to by Msgr. Raffaele Funghini, dean of the Roman Rota, in his opening remarks.
The Pope said that today there seems to be an "obfuscation" by those who contract marriage of "the sacramentality of marriage, ... its intimate meaning (and) its intrinsic supernatural value." He said he wished to emphasize "the special relationship that marriage of the baptized has with the mystery of God, a relationship which ... takes on the dignity of a sacrament."
He pointed out that "the link between secularization and the crisis of marriage and the family is far too evident," as is "the crisis on the meaning of God and the meaning of moral good and evil," which leads to obfuscation. We need, he said, "to rediscover the transcendent dimension that is intrinsic to the full truth about marriage and the family, overcoming every dichotomy which tends to separate the profane aspects from the religious ones, almost as if two kinds of marriage existed: one profane and the other sacred." He stressed that "transcendency is innate in the very essence of marriage," right from the start, from the creation of "man in God's image and likeness."
"Unfortunately," lamented the Holy Father, "by the effect of original sin, what is natural in the relationship between a man and woman risks being lived in a way not in conformity with the plan and will of God, and distancing oneself from God implies in itself a proportional dehumanization of all family relations." However, he noted, Jesus redeemed mankind and, through this redemption, "the union between a man and a woman ... is truly inserted in the same mystery of the covenant of Christ with the Church. ... The intrinsic link between marriage ... and the union of the Word Incarnate with the Church is seen in all of its salvific efficacy through the concept of sacrament." He stressed that "the human and the divine are interwoven in admirable fashion."
"Today's highly secularized mentality," remarked John Paul II, "tends to affirm the human values of the family institution, detaching them from the religious values and proclaiming them totally autonomous from God." He said that the question being asked too often today - "Why should one always remain faithful to one's spouse? - becomes an existential doubt in critical situations." Stating that conjugal difficulties are "in the end, problems of love," he said "the preceding question could be restated in this way: Why must one always love the other, even when many reasons, apparently justified, would induce them to leave the other?"
Many good answers can be given to this question, said the Pope, but if couples remember that marriage is "a reciprocal gift" given by God, they must then remember to turn to God in their troubles and to recognize that "God is faithful!" They must remember that "even in the harshest cases, it is God to Whom we must turn in the certainty of receiving help."
The Holy Father reminded his audience that "considering the sacramentality (of marriage) underscores the transcendent nature of your function. ... The religious sense must thus permeate all of your work. ... There is no space in the Church for a vision of marriage that is merely immanent and profane, simply because such a vision is not theologically and juridically sound."
He urged them to "take very seriously the obligation formally imposed by can. 1676" to "use pastoral means to induce the spouses, if at all possible, to convalidate the marriage and to restore conjugal living." There should be "a synergy involving the whole Church: pastors, jurists, experts in the sciences of psychology and psychiatry, and the other faithful."
In concluding, the Pope turned his attention to "several misunderstandings that can arise, both in the instance of admission to marriage and that of judging its validity. The Church does not refuse the celebration of marriage to those who are well disposed, even if imperfectly prepared from a supernatural point of view, as long as they have the correct intention of getting married according to the natural reality of conjugality."
Repeating that marriage is both a sacramental and a natural reality, he said "this truth must not be forgotten at the moment of defining the exclusion of sacramentality and the determining error concerning the sacramental dignity as eventual principles of nullity. For both figures it is decisive to bear in mind that a behavior of the couple about to be married that does not take into account the supernatural dimension of marriage, can make it null only if it damages the validity on the natural level in which is placed the sacramental sign itself."
Unfortunately, that's not entirely true. The head of the Roman Rota, Msgr. Cormac Burke, has written articles stating that there are too FEW annulments. Msgr. Burke is not an American. He is an Irish priest associated with Opus Dei.
First he claims that "the good of the spouses" is a purpose of marriage equal "the procreation and education of children." Then he claims that any marriage which frustrates that purpose can be annulled, just as a marriage can be annulled if one partner absolutely refuses to have children. Ergo, any marriage which does not maximize the development of each spouse is annulable. In other words, "Just apply and you're automatically guaranteed."
Burke claims that this line of thinking is based on the "personalist" approach to marriage pioneered by JPII. So maybe some preaching to the choir is very much in order here.
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