Pope marries Chilean couple mid-flight


Iquique (Chile), Jan 19: Pope Francis married two Chilean flight attendants on Thursday while travelling aboard the papal plane from Santiago to the northern city of Iquique. The historic impromptu in-flight ceremony was the first ever conducted by a Pope. The two LATAM Airlines flights attendants, Carlos Ciuffardi and Paula Podest Ruiz, who have been in a civil marriage for eight years and have two daughters aged six and three, told the Pope during the flight that they had planned to have a Catholic wedding, Efe new agency reported. But they explained that the Santiago church where the ceremony was to have been held was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake. When the Pope offered to marry them, the couple asked him if he was sure. At this, the pontiff said: "Are you sure?", Ciuffardi told reporters. After the Pope told the couple to find a witness, LATAM Airlines Group Chairman Ignacio Cueto, who was on board the flight, agreed to serve in that role. Like in any Catholic wedding, Francis blessed the rings and then asked one of the cardinals accompanying him to prepare the document attesting to the couple's wedding. That document indicates that the pope was the celebrant. The couple met when Podest Ruiz was Ciuffardi's boss, prompting the pontiff to remark, "And she's still the boss, right?" "That's why the marriage has worked out," the bride joked. The couple now plans to enjoy a brief honeymoon in Iquique, the northern city where the Pope on Thursday will celebrate an open-air Mass on the beach before departing for Peru.