Marriage: “A Reality that… Can Be Experienced by All the Baptized”
On January 22, 2016, Pope Francis spoke about the Church’s teaching on marriage not as “an ideal for the few” but as “a reality that, in the grace of Christ, can be experienced by all the baptized.” He initiated this comment in regards to the Church’s tribunal courts which handle marriage annulment cases.
Pope Francis sought to emphasize the integrated relationship between the Church’s teaching on the family and the Church’s defense of the marital bond. The Church’s standards and teachings on marriage are not designed as an elitist high road but rather as a way to holiness and flourishing for all those called to the married life. This road to holiness intends the good of the family—both the fostering of love and unification of the spouses and the safeguarding and upbringing of children. The Church’s teachings on marriage seek to aid married couples in their unique role, creating a ‘domestic church’ in the home.
Pope Francis also continued to say that marriage is not a sacrament that is necessarily entered into with full understanding. He noted that “it is not uncommon for couples to discover ‘the fullness of God’s plan’ for marriage after their wedding, when they have begun to experience family life.” Like all vocations, marriage is not a stagnant faith journey, and the Church therefore must seek to nurture marriages as part of the faith community as a grace-filled life for the baptized.
For the full text, go to the Vatican website.