Teaching the Beauty of “God’s Creative Design” of Marriage in the World Today
On Thursday, October 27, Pope Francis gave an address to members of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Rome. The Institute, which was established by St. John Paul II in 1982 specifically for intensive studies on marriage and family life, currently has campuses on five continents.
“At the current moment, conjugal and family bonds are challenged in many ways,” the Holy Father said, citing narcissism, a false idea of freedom separated from responsibility, widespread indifference to the common good, ideologies attacking the family structure, and the development of new technologies all as contributions to present difficulties. The best way to combat this, said the pope, is through recognizing the dignity of men and women as created in the image and likeness of God, with marriage as the “initiation of the creative alliance between man and woman.”
Pope Francis affirmed the place of the family within the Church, saying, “The Church sees in the family the icon of God’s alliance with the entire human family.” There is a special need in the Church to understand the beauty of God’s design for marriage and share it in a way that is accessible to the people of the world today. This involves not only intelligence but also zeal for evangelization, compassion, and mercy for men and women. Sin and frailty are real, of course, but the Holy Father added, “let us learn, therefore, not to resign ourselves to human failure, but rather to support the redemption of the creative plan [of God].”
Acting and teaching in this way will help men and women to more fully understand God’s plan for marriage. The Holy Father urged the integration of theology and pastoral ministry, which are inseparable. Rather than perceiving marriage as an ideal which can never be reached, emphasis should be placed upon the positive beauty of the sacrament and the grace made available through the Church. The “theme of the Church’s closeness” must come to the forefront in ministering to married couples so that the grace of God may “redeem, reanimate, and heal them.”