Love is in the air: Pope marries couple mid-flight during Chile visit

Aboard the papal plane, Jan 18, 2018 / 07:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his five years in office, Pope Francis gained a reputation for tossing protocol and embracing spontaneity. Today, he did it again with another papal first: marrying two flight attendants on board his flight from Santiago to Iquique.

According to journalists traveling with the Pope, the couple – Paula Podest and Carlos Ciuffardi – went to the Pope during the Jan. 18 flight to ask for his blessing.

The couple told Francis they had been civilly married, but had not been able to get married in the Church because their parish was destroyed in the massive 8.8 earthquake that rocked Santiago in 2010.

In response, the Pope offered to marry them on the spot. Ignacio Cueto, owner of the airline company, LATAM, was a witness in the ceremony.

According to Ciuffardi, who spoke briefly with journalists after the ceremony, the Pope asked the couple if they were married yet, and when they explained why they hadn’t been married in the Church, he said “do you want to get married?”

The Pope, Ciuffardi said, asked them “Are you sure, absolutely sure?” They said yes, gave the Pope Podest’s ring and asked Cueto if he would be a witness. The Pope then blessed the ring, placed their hands together, offered some brief reflections and pronounced them man and wife.



According to Ciuffardi, Francis told them what happened “was historic,” because “never has a Pope married a couple on a plane.”

Referring to the rings, Francis jested that they shouldn’t be too tight, because “they would be a torture,” nor too loose, because they might lose them.

Since they didn’t have an official marriage certificate to sign, Pope Francis asked the cardinals with him to draft one, so they grabbed a piece of blank copy paper and each signed their names and what role they played in the ceremony. One of the cardinals also signed as a witness.

The Pope also gave the couple two rosaries, Podest received a white rosary and Ciuffardi a black one.

The couple – who have two children, Rafaela, 6, and Isabela, 3 – said they will be traveling with the Pope to Iquique, and from there will take a different flight to another destination, and will celebrate after.

“It was something historic, really. Very exciting. What he told us was very important: he told us ‘this is the sacrament that the world needs, the sacrament of marriage. Hopefully, this will motivate couples around the world to get married’,” Ciuffardi said.

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  1. I’m sorry. This story is pure horse pucky.

    They’re flight attendants who fly all over the world. There esa’s no church where they could have had their marriage legitimized in the eyes of God anywhere else. Tens of thousands of priests… but it took them 8 years.

    God help us. Keep us from this stupidity

    • Dee it’s the Pope’s usual publicity stunt. Chuck Schumer recently quoted a criticism that “The most dangerous place in Congress is between Chuck Schumer and the cameras” (Bob Dole). Schumer is outmatched by Pope Francis. You’re “horse pucky” quip is hilarious. But that’s what it is.

  2. “The couple told Francis they had been civilly married, but had not been able to get married in the Church because their parish was destroyed in the massive 8.8 earthquake that rocked Santiago in 2010.”

    In 7 years? That doesn’t sound likely. What, *nobody* from that parish has been able to be married in the Church since 2010?

  3. I’m glad the couple is now sacramentally married. But much of this story doesn’t make sense. The couple cites the 2010 destruction of their parish, but the Archdiocese of Santiago has over 200 parishes. Oh well. God grant them many years!

    • Indeed. Better that they did the right thing a little late than not at all.

      (And, in passing, one of the things in this story that doesn’t make sense is that apparently neither Pope Francis nor any of the cardinals heard the couple’s confessions before marrying them. Come on: they’ve been cohabitating for almost 8 years. If they couldn’t find a church to get married in, I’ll bet that they didn’t find one to go to confession in, either.)

  4. I’m quite certain that the Pontiff determined while airborne that the two were free from impediment to marry, successfully completed both Pre-Cana classes and a course on NFP and were in a state of grace.

    The circus continues.

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