“Pope Francis urged parish priests participating in a Vatican-run course titled the ‘New Marriage Procedure’ to ‘welcome’ cohabitating couples living in fornication who ‘prefer to live together without getting married.’ The pope did not ask priests to admonish such couples for living in grave sin nor did he ask them to work for their conversion and repentance.
‘At the same time, make yourselves close with the style of the Gospel itself, in the encounter and welcome of those young people that prefer living together without getting married,’ he told priests at the Saturday, February 25 event organized by the Roma Rota, the Vatican’s highest ecclesiastical court…
Last year Francis said that cohabitating couples are in a ‘real marriage’ and receive the grace of the Sacrament. ‘I’ve seen a lot of fidelity in these cohabitations, and I am sure that this is a real marriage, they have the grace of a real marriage because of their fidelity,’ he said at that time.
The formative course was designed to teach parish priests working in their own respective diocesan courts on marriage annulments, and other related matters, how to implement the changes of the two Motu Proprio, Mitis Iudex and Misericors Jesus, with Amoris Laetitia giving the larger framework.
Francis told the priests that for ‘every person and every situation you are called to be fellow travelers to witness and support.’
He urged them to ‘support’ all couples who have determined by themselves that their marriage is invalid and want it officially declared as such.
‘When you offer this witness, may your care be also to support all those who have realized the fact that their union is not a true sacramental marriage and want to come out of this situation. In this delicate and necessary work, proceed in such a way that your faithful recognize you not so much as experts of bureaucratic acts or juridical norms, but as brothers who put themselves in an attitude of listening and of understanding,’ he said.”