(LifeSiteNews) 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.
“On the spiritual and moral plane, they are among the poor and the little ones, toward whom the Church, following in the footsteps of her Teacher and Lord, wants to be a Mother that does not abandon but comes close and takes care. These persons are also loved by Christ’s heart. This care of the last, precisely because it emanates from the Gospel, is an essential part of your work of promotion and defense of the Sacrament of Marriage,” he added.
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 Catechism of the Catholic Church calls fornication “gravely contrary to the dignity of persons and of human sexuality which is naturally ordered to the good of spouses and the generation and education of children.”
It further states that situations such as cohabitation “offend against the dignity of marriage; they destroy the very idea of the family; they weaken the sense of fidelity. They are contrary to the moral law….”