A groom exchanges rings with his bride during their wedding mass officiated by Pope Francis in St Peter’s Basilica today. Credit: Giampiero Sposito/Reuters
Pope Francis married 20 couples today, some of whom had already lived together and had children, in the latest sign that the Argentine pontiff wants the Catholic church to be more open and inclusive.
In the first wedding he has performed since becoming the head of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics 18 months ago, Francis took each couple through their vows in turn. Many already had children and thought such a marriage would be impossible, according to the Vatican’s radio station.
"The people getting married on Sunday are couples like many others," the diocese of Rome said. "Some already live together, some already have children."
The ceremony was the first of its kind in the Vatican since Pope John Paul II presided over a wedding in 2000.
Pope Francis has said the church must end its obsession with teachings on abortion, contraception and homosexuality, and become more merciful, or risk collapsing “like a house of cards”.