By: Anna Sophia Vollmerhausen
On Sept. 14, Pope Francis married 20 couples in St. Peter’s Basilica — including one couple that already had a daughter together, another where the groom had already had a previous marriage annulled and several other couples that were already living together.
This represents an important step for the notoriously old-school Roman Catholic Church. The church has, for the most part, remained highly secretive and closed off from the outside world. Religion and change tend to not go very well together. When you’ve spent thousands of years preaching the same virtues and lessons, it’s hard to suddenly change the way that certain things are done.
In contrast, Pope Francis has been heralded by the media as a more moderate and progressive pope, who is ushering in an era of a “new, more forgiving church,” according to an article in the New York Times.
Veteran Vatican reporter John Thavis describes Pope Francis as “the ‘who am I to judge?’ pope, who doesn’t want to turn people away and instead wants to find a way to bring people in.”
By marrying couples who don’t fit the marriage requirements of the Catholic Church, the Pope is showing that relaxing some of the strict doctrines is not a bad thing. Instead, it’s important to remember that nobody is perfect, least of all the church.
Why should somebody be denied the right to get married simply because they have, for example, been living with their partner before getting married? If anything, this would make a relationship, and eventual marriage, stronger. Living together is an important step in any relationship. How else are you going to find out if you can handle all the little annoying things that your partner does, such as leaving hair around the sink or never helping with the dishes? It’s better to find these types of things out before getting married.
When talking about marriage, Pope Francis said that “the path is not always a smooth one, free of disagreements, otherwise it would not be human. It is a demanding journey, at times difficult, and at times turbulent, but such is life.”
Instead of making people feel guilty and making them suffer the consequences of not always being perfect representations of the Catholic faith, the church should relax its stance on marriage. Having a child outside of marriage, or having an annulled marriage in no way reflects on your level of commitment to your faith, nor should it affect whether or not you should be allowed to get married by the church or not.