Pope to Vatican Tribunal: Spiritual Worldliness Is At the Root of Marriage Crisis

Highlights Role of Judges, Particularly in Marriage Annulment Cases

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During an audience with the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, Pope Francis encouraged judges to provide “real access to the justice of the Church” in cases of marriage annulment.

The Holy Father reflected on the current culture in regards to marriage, citing his predecessor, Blessed Paul VI.

Modern man, he quoted, is “at times wounded by a systematic relativism, that bends to the easiest choices of circumstance, of demagogy, of fashion, of passion, of hedonism, of selfishness, so that externally he attempts to dispute the mastery of the law, and internally, almost without realising, substitutes the empire of moral conscience with the whim of psychological consciousness.”

Highlighting the role of judges, the Pope reminded the Tribunal of their duties in determining the validity of marriage annulment cases. He also said that the crisis in marriage “has at its root the crisis in knowledge enlightened by faith, or rather by adhesion to God and His plan of love realised in Jesus Christ.”

The 78 year old Pontiff also noted that a great number of faithful live currently in irregular situations. Their histories, he said, “have been strongly influenced by the widespread worldly mentality.”

“There exists, indeed, a sort of spiritual worldliness, which hides behind the appearance of piety and even love for the Church, and which leads to the pursuit not of the glory of God, but rather of personal well-being.”

The Pope went on to say that a consequence of appearance is a faith that while seeming reasonable in arguments and areas of knowledge, are in reality “imprisoned by the immanence of his or her own reason or emotions.” Judges, he continued, must evaluate the validity of marriages in the context of values and faith.”

Concluding his address, Pope Francis called on the Tribunal members to protect the unity of the Church’s jurisprudence.” Pastoral conversion, he said, is necessary in helping those who look to the Church to “shed light on their matrimonial situation.”

“This is your difficult mission:do not ensnare salvation in the constrictions of legalism,” he said.

“The function of law is guided towards the salus animarum [salvation of souls] on the condition that, avoiding sophisms distant from the living flesh of people in difficulty, it may help to establish the truth of the moment of consent.”

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Junno Arocho Esteves

Newark, New Jersey, USA Bachelor of Science degree in Diplomacy and International Relations.

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