and students in the field of marriage and family study from around the
world are meeting in Rome this week for a congress sponsored by the
John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the
Family--currently celebrating its 25th anniversary.
Earlier today Pope Benedict XVI met with participants, stressing the importance of marriage for the overall good of society.
The theme of the congress is, "The heritage of John Paul II on marriage and the family: to love human love." The institute currently has campuses in the U.S., Mexico, India, Benin, Australia, Spain and Brazil.
The Holy Father began his address recalling that on the day of the assassination attempt on him in May of 1981, John Paul had planned to announce the foundation of the institute during his general audience.
Benedict moved on to highlight two major ideas which mark "the novelty of John Paul II's teaching on human love." The first, is that "marriage and the family are rooted in the most intimate core of truth about man and his destiny." The second element is "that Christ, fullness of the Father's revelation of love, also reveals the full truth of man's vocation of love, which can only be completely achieved in the sincere giving of self."
Pope Benedict recalled his own Encyclical "Deus caritas est", which suggests that "the close relationship between the image of God Love and human love enables us to understand that 'corresponding to the image of a monotheistic God is monogamous marriage.”
“Marriage”, he said, “based on exclusive and definitive love becomes the icon of the relationship between God and His people and vice versa. God's way of loving becomes the measure of human love'."
He explained that "This idea has still largely to be explored," adding that the institute's task is "to illuminate the truth of love as a road to completeness in all forms of human existence.”
“Authentic love”, he said, “becomes a light guiding all life to its fulfillment, creating a society in which mankind can live. The communion of life and love that is marriage is thus ... a real good for society."
The Holy Father concluded his address saying that "Avoiding confusion with other kinds of union based on a weak form of love is, today, particularly urgent. Only the rock of complete and irrevocable love between man and woman is capable of acting as a foundation for a society that can be home to all human beings."