Pope Benedict has asked Catholic priests to do a better job preparing people for marriage, saying that no one has an automatic right to wed.

Benedict said the Catholic Church should make sure those who decide to get married will be able to make the marriage last.

He made the comments on Saturday to the Roman Rota, the Vatican's tribunal on marriage annulments.

In the case of an annulment, the church effectively declares that a marriage never took place.

Benedict said that it is difficult to identify problems that would allow a marriage to be annulled in advance, but better pre-marriage counselling could help avoid a "vicious circle" of invalid marriages.

Benedict said the right to a church wedding requires a couple intends to be authentic and truthful in their marriage.

"The church and society at large place too much importance on the good of marriage and the family founded on it to not make a profound commitment to it pastorally," he said.

Benedict's comments on marriage came one day after he put pressure on Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi over his dalliances with young women.

On Friday, Benedict said that public officials must set a good moral example for society, but did not mention Berlusconi by name.

His comments came on day after a bishop said the Vatican was concerned about the scandal.

Berlusconi is currently being divorced by his second wife, Veronica Lario.

With files from the Associated Press