Church conservatives question

pope’s airborne nuptials

LIMA, Peru (AP) — The honeymoon, as it were, is apparently over.

A day after Pope Francis grabbed headlines by pronouncing two flight attendants man and wife while flying 36,000 feet over Chile, the conservative Catholic commentariat on Friday questioned the legitimacy of the impromptu sacrament and warned it could cheapen the church’s marriage preparation down the line.

“Do you know what’s a ‘marriage’ ripe for annulment?” tweeted the traditionalist blog Rorate Caeli. “One celebrated apparently on a whim in an airplane whose celebrant cannot even be sure if parties are validly baptized.”

Francis on Thursday presided over what the Vatican said was the doctrinally and canonically legitimate wedding of Paula Podest and Carlos Ciuffardi, two flight attendants from LATAM flight 1250 that brought the pope, his delegation and travelling press from Santiago to the northern city of Iquique.

As the happy couple told journalists they had hoped to just get a blessing from the pope. They told him that they had been married civilly in 2010, but that their plans for a church wedding fell through when an earthquake hit.

As Ciuffardi told it, the pope proposed that he marry the couple right there, in part to motivate other couples to contract a church wedding at a time when more and more couples are merely cohabitating.

Canon lawyer Ed Peters, a consultor on the Vatican high court but a frequent critic of Francis, questioned whether a host of church laws were followed, including the requirement that the couple undergo pastoral counseling and that the church have evidence that there were no obstacles to the marriage.

Baby dies, 17 injured after car

hits crowd on Rio boardwalk

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A motorist who drove into a crowded boardwalk along Rio’s famed Copacabana beach killed a baby and injured 17 people, Brazilian authorities said Friday.

Rio de Janeiro’s municipal health department reported that an Australian was among those hurt in the Thursday night incident. The 68-year-old was in serious condition and breathing with the help of a respirator.

The Australian Embassy initially said it was not aware any of its citizens was hurt, but the Department of Foreign Affairs later said in a statement that it was urgently consulting with Brazilian officials to determine if an Australian had been injured.

Eight other people remain hospitalized, many with broken bones. At least three children were among the injured, and the state health department confirmed the death of a baby girl.

The boardwalk was crowded on a hot summer night when the car jumped the curb, crossed the wide sidewalk and came to a stop in the sand.

Police have said it was not a terrorist attack and have arrested the driver. The driver told police he had not been drinking but lost control of his car. He also told them he has epilepsy.