In a meeting with the bishops of Puerto Ricoon on Monday, Pope Francis described the beauty of Marriage, saying that the differences between man and woman are not for opposition or subordination, but for communion and generation. According to Zenit News Agency, the Pope was meeting with the bishops for their five year ad limina apostolorum visit.
The Holy Father emphasized the need to focus on family ministry, because of the serious social problems that afflict the family; the difficult economic situation, emigration, domestic violence, unemployment, drug trafficking and corruption.
“In this context,” Pope Francis said, “Allow me to call your attention to the value and beauty of marriage.”
He said: “The complementarity of man and woman, summit of divine creation, is being questioned by the so-called gender ideology, in the name of a more free and just society. The differences between man and woman are not for opposition or subordination, but for communion and generation, always in the ‘image and likeness’ of God. Without mutual self-giving, neither one can understand the other in depth>” (cf. General Audience, April 15, 2015).
The Sacrament of Marriage is a sign of the love of God for humanity and of Christ’s giving himself for his Bride, the Church. Look after this treasure, one of the ‘most important of the Latin American and Caribbean peoples’ (Aparecida, 433).”
Pope Francis also discussed the need for good confessors. He encouraged the bishops to be close to their priests. The Holy Father stressed that both bishops and priests must be faithful servants of God’s forgiveness. He said the upcoming Jubilee of Mercy, which will begin Dec. 8, will be a time to stress the sacrament of reconciliation, which enables one to experience in one’s own flesh the love of God and to offer each penitent the source of true interior peace.
He told them that because of the magnitude of the problems faced by pastors, a bishop needs to take recourse not only to prayer, but also to friendship and the fraternal help of his brothers in the episcopate. Pope Francis cautioned the bishops not to waste energies in divisions and confrontations, but to build and collaborate. He added that they must be able to distance themselves from particular political tendencies, saying,
“Because of her mission, the Church is not linked to any political system, in order to be able to be always the ‘sign and safeguard of the transcendent character of the human person.'”
A Synod on the Family was begun in October 2014 to discuss how to minister to broken families. It will conclude with a second meeting in October 2015.
This article was originally published on June 9, 2015.