Pope to Roman Rota: Lack of faith may hurt the validity of marriage

2013-01-26 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) Lack of faith may hurt the intrinsic goods of marriage: procreation, marital fidelity and its indissolubility. This was the message at the heart of Pope Benedict XVI’s address Saturday morning to members of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota received in audience for the opening of the judicial year. Emer McCarthy reports:

The Pope reiterated that the current crisis of faith brings with it a crisis of conjugal society. He also pointed out that the rejection of the Divine leads to a deep imbalance in all human relationships.

Contemporary culture, the Pope says, places "pressing challenges" before families because of its "accentuated subjectivism and moral and religious relativism." In particular, he notes, there are those contrast human liberty with the individual’s “ability to make a lifelong commitment”. There is, in fact, a "widespread mentality" that leads people to believe that we becomes ourselves only “by remaining 'autonomous’ and coming into contact with others only through relationships that can be interrupted at any time."

"Everyone is aware of how the choice of the human being to make a lifelong commitment influences our basic perspective, this is if it is merely anchored in a human plan or closed off to the light of faith in the Lord”.

"Only by being open God ‘s truth - he added - is it possible to understand and realize the concreteness of life including marriage and family, the truth of man as His child, regenerated by baptism." The Pope spoke of the indissolubility of the commitment between a man and a woman. This commitment, he noted "does not require, for the purposes of sacramentality, the personal faith of those to be married." What is required, "as the minimum condition - he said - is the intention of doing what the Church does"

"But while it is important not to confuse the issue of intent with that of the personal faith of the contracting parties, it is not always possible to completely separate them."

In this regard, the Pope cites a 1977 document of the International Theological Commission, which states that, if "you do not feel any trace of faith as such", there could be a problem of knowing “if the general and truly sacramental intention” is ”present or not, and if the marriage contract is valid or not".

The Pope then paused to reflect on the goods and essential element of marriage . Quoting St. Augustine he spoke of three goods: procreation, marital fidelity and its indissolubility. And he warned against disregarding the fact that there can be cases where “the very absence of faith compromises” conjugal values and prohibits consent.

The Pope recognized the difficulties "from a legal and practical point of view, in singling out one essential element" of the goods of marriage. At the same time, he noted that the issue of the validity of the marriage, "especially in the current context”, needs further reflection. The Pope recalled that those saints who lived marital union, "in the Christian perspective," and so were able "to overcome even the most adverse situations, sometimes achieving the sanctification of the spouse and children with a love always strengthened by a solid trust in God ":

"These experiences, marked by faith, help us to understand, even today, the precious sacrifice offered by those spouses who have been abandoned or those who have suffered divorce – while recognizing the indissolubility of valid marriage – succeed in not allowing themselves to become involved in a new union. In this case ... their example of fidelity and Christian consistency takes on particular value as witnesses to the world and the Church '(Familiaris Consortio). "