Pope Francis to Marry 20 Couples in September Marks First Time a Pope Has Officiated Wedding Since Pope John Paul II in 2000

By Staff Reporter

VATICAN CITY, September 01, 2014 (Zenit.org) – Pope Francis will marry 20 couples at St. Peter’s Basilica this Sept. 14.

On Friday Aug. 29, the Vatican announced the Bishop of Rome would marry the couples, all from Rome, just three weeks before the extraordinary bishops’ synod on the family at the Vatican, reported Religion News Service.

Just this June, the Pope celebrated Mass at the chapel in his Santa Marta residence with 15 couples that were marking 25 to 60 years of marriage, where he said the pillars of a successful marriage were fidelity, perseverance and fertility.

For the same occasion, the Holy Father made headlines around the world when he urged couples not to replace children with cats and dogs: “It might be better — more comfortable — to have a dog, two cats, and the love goes to the two cats and the dog. Is this true or not? Have you seen it?”

“Then, in the end,” he continued, “this marriage comes to old age in solitude, with the bitterness of loneliness.”

In February this year to coincide with Valentine’s Day, the Pope shared advice with 10,000 engaged couples on what makes a happy marriage.

“Marriage is also a daily job,” he said. “We could even say it’s like craftsmanship. In a way it’s like being a goldsmith, because a husband makes his wife more of a woman, and she in turn should make her husband a better man. Growing together in their humanity, as man and woman.”

But unlike any other job, marriage is a life long commitment. However, this shouldn’t scare couples, he said, but be something they work on together, day by day. “Love is something that comes about. It’s a reality that grows,” he said. “As an example, we could even say that it’s like building a home. You build a home together, not alone!”

He also warned against basing a marriage just on feelings. Rather, he said, it must be based on something concrete, “the rock of true love, the love that comes from God.”

Although retired Pope Benedict XVI never presided over a marriage during his eight-year pontificate, Pope John Paul II married eight couples at a Mass to mark the Jubilee for Families in October 2000.

Also in 1994, during celebrations of the International Year of the Family, the Polish Pontiff presided over another joint wedding for a group of couples.

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