Vatican Corner 01-28-18

The widely reported “spontaneous” wedding performed by Pope Francis flying over Chile may not have been as spontaneous as it appeared, and may have been planned well in advance. The December 19, 2017 edition of the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio had an article en!tled “Matrimony in the air”, about the same couple: Carlos Ciuffardi and Paula Podest Ruiz. The article said the couple is hoping that Pope Francis will marry them during his flight. The article said the two award-winning flight attendants, who work together for Latam Airlines, had been selected to be part of the crew of Francis’ flight. The article went on to explain that the couple is married civilly but they postponed their Catholic wedding for eight years due to earthquake damage to their church. The couple has two children: Rafaella, six, and Isabella, three, who were born out of Catholic wedlock. In the article, Ms. Podest Ruiz is quoted as saying “We would love it (if he will marry them. Mr. Ciuffardi’s account to the press following the wedding ceremony is what created the impression that the wedding was spontaneously. He said when the !me came for the group photo Francis invited us to sit down and we began to converse. They explained that their church’s bell tower had fallen during an earthquake, forcing the cancellation of their planned church service. One thing led to another, and they never followed up. Mr. Ciuffardi said “ and that would be the moment, snapping his fingers to illustrate. “It occurred to him (to do it)! “I don’t know if someone had said something to him (about it) because… we don’t know.” Francis asked: “Do you want me to marry you?” We said yes. Pope Francis told them: “This is the sacrament that is missing in the world, the sacrament of marriage. May this motivate others to get the sacrament of marriage. I’ll do it for this reason.” They exchanged “I do’s” and a Vatican official hastily drew up an official although handwritten, marriage certificate, stating that the two had consented to the sacrament of marriage on Jan. 18, 2018, and that Francis had blessed it “aboard the papal plane from Santiago to Iquique. The Vatican Press Office later told the press that the wedding “was not the Pope’s idea, it was theirs, but he was happy to do it.” However, the Vatican Press Office did nothing to counteract the worldwide impression that the event was spontaneous and unplanned. The apparent non-rule following nature of the wedding has Catholics wondering about the validity of the marriage and also how seriously the Pope treats the sacrament of marriage. By appearing to be spontaneous, the wedding has made it more difficult for deacons, priests, and bishops to try to uphold the Church’s marriage rules regarding preparation, the need for the ceremony in a Church, and the use of established texts for consent documents. On Pope Francis’ return trip to Rome, reporters asked about the wedding. Francis explained, “I questioned them a little bit, and their answers were clear.” They had gone through the pre-matrimonial course, he said the couple was prepared, and they asked him to celebrate their marriage. All the conditions were clear,” Pope Francis continued, “And so why not do what can be done today, without pu-ng it off ’!l tomorrow” since waiting might have meant another 8-10 years.

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