The True Story Behind Pope Francis's Airborne Marriage Blessing

The Story Behind Pope Francis’s Airborne Marriage Blessing

CHILE – Pope Francis’s convalidiation of the marriage of two flight attendants while on a short flight from Santiago to the northern city of Iquique has stirred up quite a bit of controversy for Catholics this week. But with confusing headlines about a seemingly spontaneous airplane wedding, what are the real facts about the pair of air stewards who met Pope Francis during his trip?

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Three days after love was in the air with his marriage blessing, Pope Francis confirmed that he didn’t make the decision to bless the couple’s marriage on the fly. Instead, the marriage blessing was carefully thought out and prepared for. Pope Francis sat down with reporters on his airplane ride back to Rome and spoke about the details of the encounter.

“I judged they were prepared, they knew what they were doing,” Pope Francis said to reporters on his way back home to Rome. “Both of them had prepared before God – with the sacrament of penance – and I married them.”

The story of Carlos Ciuffardi Elorriaga and Paula Podest Ruiz starts back in 2010. The couple was supposed to be wed in the Church back in 2010. But after an earthquake struck they decided to get married civilly. Even though they had the legal documents to prove their marriage, they had never had their marriage blessed by the Catholic Church. Since their marriage, the couple has two children together – Rafaela, age six, and Isabela, age 3.

Last December, when news came about Pope Francis traveling to Chile, the papal flight crew was chosen. Carlos and Paula were both selected to be on the crew. A Chilean newspaper, El Mercurio, interviewed the couple and asked if they were excited for the upcoming papal visit. They were – and mentioned to the reporter that they hoped they would get a chance to have their marriage blessed by Pope Francis while in flight. “We would love it, it’s our place, it’s our second home,” Paula explained.

Carlos was working on January 17, 2018, when Pope Francis was flying to Temuco. He got a chance to visit with Pope Francis and he told him the story of his life and marriage. It wasn’t until the next day that both husband and wife worked as air stewards on the same flight with Pope Francis that he was able to bless their marriage. The couple’s boss served as the witness to the ceremony. A cardinal on the flight prepared their wedding certificate and the document was signed by Pope Francis.

The Pope gave Carlos and Paula a pair of white and black rosaries as a gift.

After their marriage blessing, Carlos spoke to the reporters and shared some of the wisdom that Pope Francis had spoken to them.  Carlos mentioned that the Pope said: “This is the sacrament that is missing in the world, the sacrament of marriage. I hope this motivates couples around the world to marry.”

And while it seemed spontaneous shotgun wedding it was actually the opposite. Paula and Carlos were already married legally, and had prepared for the blessing of their union in the Church.

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Pope Francis commented to the reports, saying, “One of you said I was crazy to do this, but hey were prepared, and if the priest says they are prepared and I decided that they were prepared … the sacraments are for the people.”