On Friday Pope Francis gave his yearly address to members of the Roman Rota to officially declare open the Vatican court’s judicial year. Speaking to them on the issues of the recent reforms to the Church’s marriage law, he said that the court which hears requests for marriage annulments, helps support families and the truth about the sacred bond of marriage.
In evaluating and judging marriage cases and contributing to formation, the Roman Rota helps promote and proclaim the truth, Pope Francis said.
The Sacred Roman Rota is the highest appellate tribunal of the Roman Catholic Church, with respect to both Latin-rite members and the eastern-rite members and is also the highest ecclesiastical court constituted by the Holy See and as such, the final court of appeal in marriage nullity cases. Pope Francis ceased that opportunity to speak directly to the church’s legal community on issues regarding marriage.
“The Church, in fact, can demonstrate God’s unwavering merciful love toward families, especially those wounded by sin and life’s trials, and at the same time proclaim the essential truth of marriage according to God’s plan. The Church will always offer the truth about marriage, he said, “not as an ideal for the few, despite modern examples based on what is fleeting and transitory, but as a reality that, with Christ’s grace, can be lived by all the baptized faithful."
When the Church, through the court’s service, seeks to declare the truth about marriage in each specific case, it always bears in mind that those “who, through free choice or unfortunate circumstances in life, live in an objective state of error continue to be the object of the merciful love of Christ and therefore of the Church, too," he continued.
“The family, based on indissoluble, unitive and procreative marriage, is part of God’s ‘dream’ and the Church’s for the salvation of humanity," he said, adding that while the family is considered to be a domestic Church, the Church is the family of God. Therefore, the church must be filled with a loving, “family spirit," where people are “no longer strangers and sojourners," but members of God’s family.
The Pope stressed on the Church’s teaching that said the level of a person’s faith “is not an essential condition of matrimonial consent" and in fact, he said, it is not uncommon for engaged couples to go into a marriage with a limited understanding of the fullness of God’s plan.