During his meeting with the Roman Rota for the start of the judicial year, Francis said that “it is necessary for the Church, in all her articulations, to act in harmony to offer adequate spiritual and pastoral support” to Catholic spouses, who, in turn, represent “a precious pastoral help to the Church.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis met today with members of the Apostolic Tribunal of the Roman Rota, for the start of the new Judicial Year. In his address, the pontiff said that in today's secularised society, it is difficult for believers to uphold unity and fidelity, the "fundamental cornerstones" of marriage. Hence, “it is necessary for the Church, in all her articulations, to act in harmony to offer adequate spiritual and pastoral support.”
“So as to be validly contracted, marriage requires of each of the betrothed a full unity and harmony with the other, so that, through the mutual exchange of their respective human, moral and spiritual riches – almost by way of communicating vessels – the two spouses become a single entity. Marriage also requires the commitment of fidelity, which absorbs all of life, becoming a stable consortium totius vitae (Canon 1135).
“Unity and fidelity” are “two assets, indispensable and constitutive of marriage, must not only be adequately illustrated to future spouses, but also demand the pastoral action of the Church, especially of bishops and priests, to accompany the family in the different phases of its formation and of its development. Such pastoral action naturally cannot be limited to the completion of paperwork, while this may be necessary and is to be carried out with care. There is a need for a triple preparation for marriage: remote, near and permanent. It is advisable for this latter to include in a serious and structural way the various phases of married life, through an accurate formation, intended to nurture in spouses the awareness of the values and commitments proper to their vocation.
“The main subjects of this matrimonial formation, by virtue of their office and ministry, are pastors; however, it is more opportune than ever before – indeed, necessary – to involve the ecclesial communities in their various components, who are co-responsible in this pastoral care under the guidance of the diocesan bishop or the parish priest. The duty is therefore in solidum, with the primary responsibility of pastors and the active participation of the community in promoting marriage and in accompanying families with spiritual and formative support.
“To understand this pastoral need, it will be good for us to consider, in the Scriptures, the experience of the holy spouses Aquila and Priscilla. They were among the most faithful companions of the mission of Saint Paul,” and we are struck by the “high recognition on the part of Paul for the missionary work of these spouses”.
“Let us ask, therefore, that today too the Spirit give to the Church priests capable of appreciating and valuing the charisms of spouses with robust faith and apostolic spirit, such as Aquila and Priscilla.”
“On the other hand, spouses who live their marriage with generous unity and with faithful love, supporting each other with the grace of the Lord and with the necessary support of the ecclesial community, represent in turn a precious pastoral help to the Church. Indeed, they offer to all an example of true love and become witnesses and co-workers in the fruitfulness of the Church herself. Truly many Christian couples are a silent prayer for all, a “weekday” prayer, I would say, for every day, and we must unfortunately note that a couple that lives for many years together does not make the news – this is sad – while scandals, separations and divorces do (cf. Homily at Santa Marta, Friday 18 May 2018).
“This is the good news: that fidelity is possible, because it is a gift, in spouses as in priests. This is the news that should render stronger and comforting even the ministry of bishops and priests".