Carpe diem: Pope de­fends con­duct­ing air­borne wed­ding

South Florida Times - - PRAYERFUL LIVING - By

NI­COLE WINFIELD

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (AP) - Pope Fran­cis is de­fend­ing his de­ci­sion to per­form an air­borne wed­ding fly­ing over Chile, say­ing the two flight at­ten­dants were pre­pared for the sacra­ment and that re­fus­ing them might have meant they would never get around to it again.

Fran­cis told re­porters that he had ques­tioned both bride and groom be­fore Thurs­day's in-flight nup­tials and had pressed them on their fam­ily life, be­liefs about com­mit­ment and Catholic Church teach­ing. He said they had com­pleted the church's pre-wed­ding prepa­ra­tion course, had gone to con­fes­sion be­fore­hand, and were in what the church con­sid­ers to be a “reg­u­lar sit­u­a­tion'' al­low­ing them to be mar­ried.

“I judged they were pre­pared. They knew what they were do­ing,'' Fran­cis told re­porters. He added: “Sacra­ments are for peo­ple. All the con­di­tions were clear. So why not do to­day what you can do to­day rather than put it off to to­mor­row, when to­mor­row might have turned into 10-20 years from now?''

Fran­cis made head­lines - and drew some crit­i­cism from con­ser­va­tive com­men­ta­tors - when he cel­e­brated the mar­riage of LATAM crew mem­bers Paula Podest and Car­los Ci­uf­fardi on Jan. 18 en route from San­ti­ago to the north­ern Chilean city of Iquique. The two had been mar­ried in a civil cer­e­mony in 2010, but their plans for a church wed­ding were dashed when an earth­quake struck Feb. 27, 2010 and dam­aged their church.

The giddy new­ly­weds came to the back of the plane and told re­porters trav­el­ling with the pope that the whole thing came off quickly and spon­ta­neously. In fact, a Chilean news report from last month said a sacra­men­tal wed­ding was al­ready un­der con­sid­er­a­tion. In ad­di­tion, Fran­cis said he fully in­ter­ro­gated the cou­ple to de­ter­mine if they met the church's re­quire­ments to be mar­ried. That dis­cus­sion ac­tu­ally be­gan a day ear­lier, Fran­cis re­vealed, when Ci­uf­fardi and the pope had “a nice chat'' dur­ing an­other flight to the south­ern city of Te­muco that Ci­uf­fardi worked.

Some con­ser­va­tive com­men­ta­tors had ques­tioned the air­borne nup­tials, list­ing a host of laws, norms and reg­u­la­tions that would have been dif­fi­cult to as­cer­tain if the wed­ding had in­deed been as spon­ta­neous as the cou­ple pre­sented it. Did the pope have proof they were validly bap­tized Catholics? Had they un­der­gone the pre-wed­ding prepa­ra­tion course? Did the church have ev­i­dence that there were no ob­sta­cles to the mar­riage? Had they gone to con­fes­sion?

Fran­cis told the cou­ple that he de­cided to per­form the cer­e­mony in hopes of en­cour­ag­ing other Catholics to get mar­ried in the church. Fran­cis fre­quently laments that fewer Catholics are choos­ing sacra­men­tal church wed­dings, pre­fer­ring ei­ther a civil cer­e­mony or no cer­e­mony at all.

Many ob­servers saw Fran­cis' de­ci­sion an ex­am­ple of the pas­toral di­rec­tion he wants to take the church: of meet­ing Catholics where they are and not be­ing hemmed in by le­galisms and tech­ni­cal­i­ties that can get in the way of evan­ge­liz­ing. Pas­tors say they of­ten find them­selves in sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions where they have to judge if there is a greater good of­fer­ing a sacra­ment or other pas­toral as­sis­tance in the mo­ment, rather than wait­ing for all the knots to be worked out.

“You can imag­ine wed­dings now on cruise ships!'' Fran­cis joked, ac­knowl­edg­ing he had been told that he was “nuts” to have gone ahead with the cer­e­mony, given the po­ten­tial for crit­i­cism.

PHOTO COURTESY OF TWIT­TER

Pope Francis

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