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Pope witnesses marriage of 20 couples in St Peter’s

Newly married couples attend a wedding ceremony witnessed by Pope Francis in St Peter's Basilica (AP) Below: A video of the ceremony (CTV)

Marriage is “not fiction” but a symbol of “real life” with joys and difficulties, Pope Francis told 20 couples at their wedding on Sunday in St Peter’s Basilica.

In a break from tradition Pope Francis witnessed the weddings of couples from the diocese of Rome who had been co-habiting before their marriage. One couple getting married were a man whose previous marriage had been annulled and a single mother with a child from a previous relationship.

“The path is not always a smooth one, free of disagreements, otherwise it would not be human. It is a demanding journey, at times difficult, and at times turbulent, but such is life! Marriage is a symbol of life, real life: it is not ‘fiction’,” the Pope said.

He spoke of “spouses who ‘have become impatient on the way’ and who succumb to the dangerous temptation of discouragement, infidelity, weakness, abandonment…” Rather than condemning them, Jesus offers “the strength of his grace that renews and sets married couples and families once again on the right path”.

Pope Francis said: “It is impossible to quantify the strength and depth of humanity contained in a family: mutual help, educational support, relationships developing as family members mature, the sharing of joys and difficulties. Families are the first place in which we are formed as persons and, at the same time, the ‘bricks’ for the building up of society.”

For the full text of Pope Francis’s homily go here.