Here is L’Osservatore Romano’s coverage of the Holy Father’s homily of 2/28/14:
When a love fails
However, he added that “the Lord’s masterpiece was not finished there, during the days of creation”. For the Lord has chosen this very image “to explain the love that he has for his people, the love that he has with his people”. The Lord’s love is so great, that even “when his people are unfaithful”, still “he speaks to them words of love; we think of the way the Lord describes his unfaithful people in Chapter 16 of the prophet Ezekiel”. Thus, the Pope said, “the Lord holds up this love contained in the masterpiece of creation in order to explain the love he has for his people. Yet there is another step: when Paul needs to explain the mystery of Christ, he also does so in relation and in reference to the bride. For Christ is wedded: he wedded the Church, his people; as the Father had wedded his people Israel, so Christ espoused his people to himself”.
“This is the story of love. This is the story of the masterpiece of creation. And casuistry crumbles before this journey of love, before this icon, and becomes pain”. Pain in the face of failure. “When he leaves his father and mother to be joined to a woman, when they become one flesh and continue on, when this love fails – for it often fails – we need to feel the pain of the failure”, the Pope said. And in that moment we also need “to accompany those persons who have failed in their love”. We don’t need “to condemn” but “to walk with them”, and above all, we need not “turn their situation into casuistry”.
All of this, the Pope continued, brings to mind the “plan of love”, “the journey of love of Christian marriage, which God blessed in the masterpiece of his creation with a blessing that can never be taken away. Not even original sin destroyed it”. And “when one considers this”, he quite naturally sees “how beautiful love is, how beautiful marriage is, how beautiful the family is, how beautiful this journey is”. But he also sees “how much love, and what great closeness we should also have for our brothers and sisters who, in their lives, have had the misfortune of a failed love”. A love that “begins poetically, for the second account of the creation of man in the Book of Genesis is poetic”; and that “concludes poetically in the Bible, in the Letters of St Paul, when he speaks of the love that Christ has for his bride, the Church”.
The Pope emphasized, however, that “here also we need to take care that love does not fail” so that we end in “speaking about Christ as ‘a bachelor’: Christ married the Church! And we cannot understand Christ without the Church”, just as “we cannot understand the Church without Christ”. “This is the great mystery of the masterpiece of creation”. Pope Francis concluded his meditation by asking the Lord for the grace to understand this mystery “and for the grace never to fall into the casuistic attitude of the Pharisees and doctors of the law”.
It’s actually a rather beautiful teaching, talking about when we fail, God never abandons us. And how the Church should not abandon people when they fall. The whole thing is well worth reading.
What really irks me here is that, in the second article cited, the case given was not even for a Catholic woman…it was for an evangelical. They couldn’t find a Catholic woman with some kind of divorce nightmare? At least as long as I’ve been alive, the Church has never taught that spouses should remain in an abusive relationship…divorce has never really been the issue. Subsequent civil unions following the dissolution of a valid marriage…that’s always where the issue’s been.
One of the saddest things I’ve seen in my semi-long life is the concerted and consistent effort to twist this Pope’s words.