Both the family and the Church assist in "accompanying the human person until the end of their existence", he said, noting that they do this "certainly with the teachings that they transmit, but also with their very nature as communities of love and life."
He noted that along with its definition as the "Tribunal of the Family," the Rota can also be considered "the Tribunal of the truth of the sacred bond." These two qualities, he said, are complementary.
"Indeed the Church can show the merciful and indefectible love of God for families, especially those wounded by sin and by the trials of life, and at the same time, proclaim the essential truth of marriage according to God's plan."
Francis pointed to the 2014 and 2015 Synods on the Family. The two-year reflection has made possible a "profound and wise discernment" on family life, he said, indicating to the world that "there can be no confusion between the family beloved by God and any other type of union."
By their "work of the truth," the Pope told the judges, the Church "proposes to declare the truth on marriage in a concrete case, for the good of the faithful, she keeps in mind at the same time those who, by their free choice or through unhappy circumstances live in a state of objective error, continue to receive Christ's merciful love, and therefore that of the Church herself."
He affirmed that the Church continues to propose marriage "in its essential elements – offspring, the good of spouses, unity, indissolubility, sacramentality."
These conditions are not simply "an ideal for the few," but constitute a reality that, with Christ's grace, "can be lived by all baptized faithful."
Francis pointed to the "pastoral urgency" in the Church for an adequate preparation for marriage, and called for a "new catechesis" on marriage, repeating the phrase for added emphasis.
He closed his speech by recognizing that "the time in which we are living is very challenging both for the family, and for us pastors who are called to accompany them," and wished them a good start to the new year.