09 December 2019
Pope Francis

Families, witnesses, and missionaries of the Gospel

The Holy Father’s address to participants in the Tribunal of the Roman Rota’s course on the protection of marriage and the pastoral care of wounded couples

“The Church, when she encounters these realities of wounded couples, first of all weeps and suffers with them; she approaches with the oil of consolation, to soothe and heal; she wants to take on board the pain she encounters. And if, then, she strives to be impartial and objective in seeking the truth of a broken marriage, the Church is never extraneous either humanly or spiritually to those who suffer.” And so Pope Francis expressed himself a few days ago in an impassioned speech to about four hundred participants in the course held by the Tribunal of the Roman Rota focused on the protection of marriage and the pastoral care of wounded couples.

The Pope recalled how St. Paul likened Christian matrimony to the union of Christ with his body, the Church, which he loves even unto the sacrifice of the cross. Therefore Christian spouses are called “to walk with the Church and in the Church, to walk together in the way of holiness,” living out their Christian marriage as a “journey of faith,” an intimate union of spouses who form the “pillars” of the domestic Church, said the Pope, referencing the Second Vatican Council, Amoris laetitia, and St. John Paul II’s Familiaris consortio.

In parish and diocesan communities, he continued, the necessity of the valuable ministry of spouses in the Church is increasingly felt today, “a missionary ministry that proclaims that Christ is alive and working.” “This Sacrament cannot be improvised,” Pope Francis clarified, but rather there is a need to prepare for it as an engaged couple. Finally, there was an encouragement to “pastors, bishops and priests to promote, support and accompany this process, so that the Church may be renewed, increasingly becoming a capillary network of communities of families who are witnesses and missionaries of the Gospel.”