30 January 2019
Pope Francis

Unity and fidelity in marriage

Unity and fidelity; two matrimonial assets which, before being legal obligations for every Christian marriage, are the epiphany of baptismal faith

It is a very meaningful passage in the speech which Pope Francis gave to the officials and lawyers of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota for the inauguration of the juridical year.

The secularization of society, said the Pope, “does not favour the growth of the faith” with the consequence that the faithful “struggle to bear witness to a life style according to the Gospel, including the Sacrament of marriage”. For this reason, the Church is called upon to offer spiritual and pastoral support, not limited to the completion of paperwork, while this may be necessary. “A triple preparation for marriage is required: remote, near and permanent. It is advisable for the latter to include in a serious and structural manner the  various stages of married life, through accurate preparation to increase married couples’ awareness  of the values and commitments proper to  their vocation. The main actors in this matrimonial preparation, by virtue of their office and ministry, are the pastors; however, it is now more than advisable, indeed necessary,  to involve the ecclesial communities in their various components”. The Pope also recalled the example of the holy spouses, Saints Aquila and Priscilla, companions of the mission of Saint Paul and valid assistants in the Apostle’s evangelization work.  The Pope suggested several ways  for the permanent pastoral care of the Church for the good of marriage and the family: “nearness to the Word of God: catechesis; involvement in the celebration of the Sacraments, above all the Eucharist; spiritual discussion and  direction; participation in family groups and charitable works”.

Fidelity is possible because it is a gift, in married couples as in priests – concluded Pope Francis in his speech: “This is the news that should make stronger and comforting even the ministry of bishops and priests, faithful and full of evangelical love just as the love and marital fidelity of the spouses, Aquila and Priscilla,  were of comfort to Paul and Apollo.”