It seems like an ecclesiastical disaster erupts every time Pope Francis embarks on an international flight. Last week's trip was no exception. Much of secular and milquetoast-Catholic media is all aflutter about the so-called "beautiful" marriage that the pope officiated between two of the airline employees whilst in flight. Never mind that the two of them were only "civilly married", that is, were shacking up for eight years beforehand. You see, it was so..."spontaneous", and...and.."so pastoral" of the pope to marry them on the spot, right? Well, maybe not so much.
It turns out that things may not have been that "spontaneous" after all - that in reality, at least the couple had their eye on this possibility. They said as much in an interview they gave to a local newspaper - a month before the nuptial flight. Many news outlets, including CNN, portrayed the situation as the pope offering to marry them and the couple gladly accepting - making it look like the entire thing occurred at the pope's initiative. So was it the pope's initiative, or the couple's? Might it be a combination? Might the Vatican have gotten wind of the couple's interview and have determined that this "impromptu wedding" might be a booster for the pope's image? In other words, was the whole thing scripted from the get-go? So much for the "god of surprises"!
There are also questions regarding the status of this "wedding". Canon lawyer Ed Peters raises some important questions. Recall, of course, that canon law is the law of the Church. Peters also states that because of the pope's disregard for Church norms, that priests will have even more difficulty in enforcing them in their own parishes - norms such as marriage preparation, insistence on being in a state of grace (recalling that this couple had been shacking up for eight years), etc.
Now here's another unpleasant but relevant consideration. We now know that Amoralis Lamentia is a deliberated assault on three sacraments: Confession, Communion, and Matrimony. Last week's "flighty marriage" was yet another episode that undermines the Sacrament of Matrimony and all it entails.