A Call to Witness to Christian Marriage
On April 25, 2014 Pope Francis addressed the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of South Africa during their “ad limina” visit to the Vatican, a kind of visit made periodically by all bishops. He spoke to them about the many challenges facing our world today and how we, as faithful Catholics, are called to respond.
Our beloved Pope spoke to the Bishops about many current challenges threatening the sanctity of marriage, exhorting them to witness consistently to the truth of the Gospel and to spread God’s message. Among other things, he said:
The rate of separation and divorce is high, even in many Christian families, and children frequently do not grow up in a stable home environment. We also observe with great concern, and can only deplore, an increase in violence against women and children. All these realities threaten the sanctity of marriage, the stability of life in the home and consequently the life of society as a whole. In this sea of difficulties, we bishops and priests must give a consistent witness to the moral teaching of the Gospel.
Pope Francis then went on to elaborate on the need for true Christian witness to the beauty of marriage in our world today. He spoke of the need for programs that, by drawing on the teaching of Saint Pope John Paul II, communicate the “liberating truth about Christian marriage” and act to “inspire young people with new hope for themselves and for their future as husbands and wives, fathers and mothers.”
He asserts that the pressure of the secular world is causing the “holiness and indissolubility” of Christian matrimony to disintegrate. In order to preach the truth, our message on marriage must be “deepened by clear doctrine and supported by the witness of committed married couples.” Pope Francis goes on to say, “Christian matrimony is a lifelong covenant of love between one man and one woman; it entails real sacrifices in order to turn away from illusory notions of sexual freedom and in order to foster conjugal fidelity.”