The Pope weds 20 couples from the diocese of Rome

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Marriage is not a “fiction” 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! Marriage is a symbol of life, real life: it is not “fiction”! It is the Sacrament of the love of Christ and the Church,” Francis said in the homily he pronounced at the mass during which he celebrated the Sacrament of Marriage. The Pope celebrated the weddings of 20 couples from the diocese of Rome, in St. Peter’s Basilica. This is the first time he celebrated the Sacrament of Marriage as Pope. He spoke about the difficulties of everyday life, comparing these to “the people’s journey through the desert” and “the dangerous temptation of discouragement, infidelity, weakness, abandonment.” “Daily life becomes burdensome, even “nauseating”.”

But marriage is about a “man and woman walking together, wherein the husband helps his wife to become ever more a woman, and wherein the woman has the task of helping her husband to become ever more a man. Here we see the reciprocity of differences.” Praising heterosexual marriage, he added off the cuff: “One small piece of advice. It is normal for married couples to fight. It always happens. Never let the day pass without making up. Even the smallest of gestures is enough and then you carry on walking.” “There are always crosses to bear” in marriage, the Pope concluded. “But the Lord is there to help us overcome them and move on.”

There were long queues leading up to the entrance of St. Peter’s Basilica this morning and there was great excitement among the brides when it came to the moment of reciting the formula for the vows. The 20 couples all belonged to the diocese of Rome but varied in age and background. Some had been made redundant, others were temporary employees, some couples already live together and have children and other spouses were marrying again following the annulment of a previous marriage. Ages ranged from 30 to 50 years old. Flaviano and Giulia are both 30; he was made redundant and she has a part time job in a fast food restaurant. The parish where they work as volunteers paid for their wedding reception. Guido and Gabriella are just about to turn 50, they live together and have a daughter who is now a grown-up; Guido obtained an annulment form the Catholic Church for his previous marriage.

Concelebrating at the mass with the Pope were the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, Agostino Vallini, Bishop Filippo Iannone, Vice-Regent and Director of the Centre for Family Pastoral Ministry of the Diocese of Rome, and forty priests who were friends of the couples. At the end of the ceremony, couples waited for Francis in the sacristy, where they greeted him in person. The couples had their wedding photographs taken by the replica of the Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican Gardens. A day care centre and a youth centre were offered to Francis as a gift by the newlywed couples, at the end of the ceremony. Caritas organization of the diocese of Rome will be setting up the centre in the Colli Aniene area of Rome. The couples – many of whom belong to dioceses on the Roman periphery - decided on this gift after the appeal Francis launched during an address in the Prima Porta area of the city, Caritas explains. On that occasion, Francis had urged people to open up to the peripheries, because they are the starting point for understanding the reality in which we live. The project involves the creation of a meeting space for children and families who are residents of one of Rome’s peripheral neighbourhoods. The centres will hopefully contribute to the well-being of families, acting as an educational support.

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By Marco Tosatti