28 September 2015

Pope Francis: Defend God's Design for Marriage

Pope Francis
In a powerful rebuke to the culture war mentality that has often marked the public witness of the Catholic hierarchy, Pope Francis told bishops gathered for a major church meeting on families not to falter in their faith and said a church that constantly explains doctrines without providing real support to families “is dangerously unbalanced.”

“We need to invest our energies not so much in rehearsing the problems of the world around us and the merits of Christianity, but in extending a sincere invitation to young people to be brave and to opt for marriage and the family,” Francis told bishops gathered at a seminary in Philadelphia last 27 September, the final day of the pontiff’s grueling nine-day visit to Cuba and the U.S.

The message was timely as the role of Catholics bishops and priests as the "family of God" is indispensable for the transmission of the human and Christian values of marriage and family. This was also consistent with the statements of Pope Francis last 10 September where he told couples to defend God's design for the family as the union of a man and woman for the procreation of children, and urged them to be merciful to those whose marriages have failed.

“A Christianity which ‘does’ little in practice, while incessantly ‘explaining’ its teachings, is dangerously unbalanced,” Francis told dozens of churchmen from around the world. “I would even say that it is stuck in a vicious circle.”

At the start of his 30-minute talk, Pope Francis made a brief reference to the legalization of same-sex marriage that the American bishops have made a centerpiece of their public ministry and policy battles, with many of them casting the acceptance of gay relationships as the beginning of an era of exclusion and even persecution for Christians.

In his speech, the Pope said that Catholic Bishops are “in the best position” to announce Jesus to other families, and to support, strengthen and encourage them.

Prayer within couples and families is especially important, he said, explaining that it is “a beautiful and necessary tradition that has always supported the faith and hope of Christians, and unfortunately abandoned in many regions of the world.”

The Pope also said the church’s shepherds must accompany and help people, and he said they must be converted first to this (Catholic) approach: “For all the obstacles we see before us, gratitude and appreciation should prevail over concerns and complaints.”