Pope says relativistic ideas of marriage lead to divorce

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis said contemporary ideas of marriage as an arrangement defined by personal needs promote a mentality of divorce, and he called for better preparation of engaged couples as well as ministry to Catholics whose marriages have failed.

The pope’s remarks appeared in a message distributed Feb. 7 to Polish bishops making “ad limina” visits to Rome to report on the state of their dioceses. Pope Francis met with the group but, as he frequently does, dispensed with reading out his prepared text.

In his message, the pope warned the bishops of some of the “new challenges” the church faces in their society, including the “idea of liberty without limits, tolerance hostile to or wary of the truth, or resentment of the church’s justified opposition to the prevailing relativism.”

“Marriage today is often considered a form of emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will,” he said. “Unfortunately this vision also influences the mentality of Christians, causing them to resort easily to divorce or de facto separation.”

Pope Francis said pastors should search for ways to minister to divorced and separated Catholics, “so that they do not feel excluded from the mercy of God, the fraternal love of other Christians and the church’s solicitude for their salvation,” and help such persons keep the “faith and raise their children in the fullness of the Christian experience.”

The pope has said church law regarding marriage, divorce and separation is a topic that exemplifies a general need for mercy in the church today, and that it will be a subject of discussion at this October’s extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the “pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.”

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I like what he says here, I just wish he would be a little more specific, particularly about the Church’s teaching on communion and divorce.

When I tell secular people that I took a class on marriage in college, then took marriage preparation classes before getting married they look at me somewhat flabbergasted. Even many Christians don’t seem to approach marriage with much thought about preparing and how to make it all work, according to God’s plan.

Ishii

Unfortuantely if my exposure to couples in Pre Cana over the past couple years is any indication, then many Catholics don’t give it much thought either. Many seem to take the classes as a checklist item with little regard to what is said or more importantly why.

My only glimmer of hope is that our younger couples (i.e. under 25) seem to be more intent on learning the what and why. They are also the most likely to ask for practical advice on how to have a life long marriage.

The pope has said church law regarding marriage, divorce and separation is a topic that exemplifies a general need for mercy in the church today, and that it will be a subject of discussion at this October’s extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the “pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.”

In our UK diocese, we were given a link to a questionnaire last year and had the opportunity to submit our comments to the Bishops (I can’t remember if it was to the UK Bishops only or to the Synod). One of the end results will be the usually media folly which will cause confusion within and outside the Church.

Good commentary.

Pope Francis said contemporary ideas of marriage as an arrangement defined by personal needs promote a mentality of divorce, and he called for better preparation of engaged couples as well as ministry to Catholics whose marriages have failed.

He is surely correct here. Now, it’s all about personal needs, personal feelings, personal fulfillment, and that leads to divorce.

But it seems to me that correcting a whole culture gone wrong on marriage will take more than better preparation of engaged couples. It will take a total renewal of the entire culture with respect to courtship and marriage.

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