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Pope’s ‘airplane wedding’ was valid

Unusual ceremony 36,000 feet above Chile is supported by church laws despite criticism of the pontiff’s actions

Crew members Paula Podest and Carlos Ciuffardi kiss after being married by Pope Francis during the flight between Santiago and Iquique on Jan. 18. (Photo by Vincenzo Pinto/AFP)
Paul de Leon, Manila International

January 31, 2018

In recent weeks, cyberspace has been filled with comments pertaining to the validity of the “airplane wedding” officiated by Pope Francis.

Cruising at an altitude of 36,000 feet above Chile, the pope celebrated the matrimony of flight attendants Paula Podest and Carlos Ciuffardi, who were already civilly married.

The couple failed to tie the knot in church when an earthquake hit Chile in 2010, destroying the structure where the wedding should have been held.

Some people have been quick to rail against the wedding, questioning the propriety of what the pope did on the plane. Was the marriage celebrated by the pope valid?

It is best to check what church laws say on these cases. Also, church leaders should act fast in explaining these matters to the faithful.

The first question that came to mind is whether the ceremony should be called marriage when in fact Paula and Carlos were already married civilly.

Can the church marry the already married? What Pope Francis did was convalidation, a ceremony in which a marriage, such as a civil marriage, is recognized by the church.

Convalidation prior to the Second Vatican Council used to be a short ceremony with only the couple, two witnesses and the celebrant present.

Critics said matrimonial rites should be celebrated only in a church, citing canon 1118, section 1, that states: “A marriage between Catholics or between a Catholic party and a non-Catholic baptized party is to be celebrated in a parish church.”



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