Pope Benedict XVI On Marriage

The Pope in his Sunday Angelus address (October 9th) based his words on the Gospel of the day, which recounts Jesus’ teaching on marriage. He pointed out that in response to the question as to whether it was lawful for a husband to repudiate his wife, an established precept of the Mosaic law, Jesus responded that it was a concession of Moses because of their ‘hardness of heart’, while the real truth about marriage goes back ‘to the beginning of creation’, when, God ‘made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one’, as is written in the book of Genesis. Jesus added: ‘So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder’.

The Pope added, this was God’s original plan, as the Second Vatican Council said in Gaudium et Spes: ‘The intimate partnership of married life and love has been established by the Creator and qualified by his laws, and is rooted in the conjugal covenant…for God himself is the author of matrimony’. The Pope’s thoughts were directed to all Christian spouses, he said that with them he thanked the Lord for the gift of the sacrament of marriage, and exhorted them to remain faithful to their vocation in each stage of life, ‘in joy and in sorrow, in health and in sickness’, as they promised in the sacramental rite.

He continued by wishing that Christian spouses, aware of the grace received, would build a family open to life and capable of facing together the numerous and complicated challenges of our time. ‘Their testimony’, he said, ‘is particularly necessary today’. Adding that ‘we need families that do not let themselves be drawn by modern cultural currents inspired by hedonism and relativism, and that are willing to realize their mission in the Church and in society with generous dedication’.

In Familiaris Consortio, Pope John Paul II wrote that the sacrament of marriage makes Christian married couples and parents witnesses of Christ ‘to the end of the earth’, as authentic ‘missionaries’ of love and life. This mission, the Pope commented, is oriented both to the internal life of the family, especially in mutual service and in the education of children, as well as to the external: the domestic community. In fact, it is called to be the sign of God’s love to all. He finished by saying that the family can only fulfil this mission if it is supported by divine grace. For this reason, it is necessary to pray tirelessly and to persevere in the daily effort to keep the commitments assumed on the wedding day.