“Why marry?” This was the question proposed by Professor Héctor Franceschi,
professor of Marriage Canon Law at the Pontifical University of the Holy
Cross, at the inaugural lesson entrusted to him during the opening ceremony
of the new academic year.

The Professor, with the appropriate level of seriousness but also a touch
of irony, faced this extremely timely and delicate question, beginning from
the reality that ever greater numbers of people believe that they can be
together without getting married.

In fact, as numbers of defacto unions increase exponentially, those
involving marriage decrease. “It’s not just that younger people aren’t
getting married in the Church,” said Franceschi, “but they’re not getting

If marriage is only seen as a formality

More and more couples think that it is not very important to ‘formalize’
their union.

“Many have a legalistic view of marriage and reduce it to a formality,
associate it with a document or a beautiful party … – he explained – Yet
marriage is much more: limiting ourselves to legalizing the union is not
properly contracted marriage. Marriage is not something that is built by
laws and cultures; it is a natural reality that, however, does not exhaust
itself at all biologically and instinctively: it is rather ‘natural’ in the
sense that it is the human form of full development of sexuality.
Therefore, we must find ways to explain to young people that the gift of
self, as a male and female, in an exclusive, faithful, indissoluble and
fruitful union represents the good of being a man or a woman. And not
because the Church or the State say it, but anthropologically it is so. ”

Marriage as a life project

“One of the elements that prevent the understanding of the true nature of
matrimonial consent is the fact that people have frequent sexual
intercourse – emphasized Franceschi – and this makes it difficult to see
that there is a one thing first – where two people know and mature
the idea to marry – and another thing after – in which the man and
the woman who became married belong to each other. ”

In our society, “waiting” often means “wasting time”: we are led to live
“everything and immediately”, “here and now” instead of embarking on a long
and demanding journey that leads to the truth about a union and brings it
to its full ripening. That is why we struggle to recognize the substantial
difference between engagement and marriage.

However, in a culture characterized by the provisional and the pursuit of
immediate gratification, “we must be able to convey to young people that
marriage is not a mere wedding party,” said the lecturer, “but a life
project involving the whole person and requiring of virtue: fortitude,
generosity, prudence, magnanimity and above all, charity “.

The importance of the bond

In quoting Pope Francis in Amoris Letizia, Franceschi said that we
need a bond of pastoral care that helps young people understand that loving
means to be totally and exclusive, to fully accept the other and not only
to feel strong feelings.

It is worth getting married, but it is also worth communicating the beauty
and wealth of marriage.

This is a remarkable commitment, the Professor concludes: “The challenge
may seem enormous, but if we begin with the proper formation of priests,
lay faithful and religious, we will be an effective tool in changing our
cultures. The challenges are great, but we have all the tools to face


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