February 7, 2011

Men and women have a natural right to marry, but that does not mean they have a right to a Catholic wedding, Pope Benedict said.

For the Catholic Church, marriage is a sacrament that is witnessed by a priest or deacon, but performed by the couple who pledge their union will be forever and that they will be open to having and educating children, the pope said.

“The right to contract marriage presupposes that one is able to and intends to truly celebrate it, that is, in the truth of its essence as taught by the Church,” Pope Benedict said Jan. 22 when he met with members of the Roman Rota.

Pope Benedict said too often engaged couples consider marriage preparation courses simply a bureaucratic hurdle to overcome before their wedding.