Pope Francis to Roman Rota judges: Ensure marriages in difficulty don't close off grace

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These judges are in charge of discerning a delicate question: whether a marriage is considered valid or not. That is why the pope asked them to treat each case very seriously.

'Dear judges of the Roman Rota, the close connection between the realm of conscience and that of the matrimonial processes that you occupy yourself with daily asks to prevent the exercise of justice to be reduced to a mere bureaucratic task. If ecclesiastical courts fall into this temptation, they would betray the Christian conscience.'

Pope Francis repeated that saying 'I do' needs solid previous preparation, especially of the conscience. He renewed his call for a “marriage catechumenate,” explaining that his teaching on marriage is a two-fold objective. On one hand, it helps spouses solidly form their consciences and, on the other hand, foster a helpful atmosphere in the Church which makes it possible to support marriages in difficulty.

'We must ensure that the conscience of the faithful in difficulty, as regards their marriage, does not close up the path of grace. This aim is achieved through pastoral accompaniment, and the discernment of consciences.'

The meeting marked the beginning of the judicial year for the courts of the Roman Rota. This body was created in the 14th century and deals with marriage annulment cases.

It primarily is in charge of the cases within Vatican City, but in the second and third instances can also work on cases already tried by other ordinary courts that appeal to the Roman Rota

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