To make this plan effective today "requires a special and loving understanding, as well as a complete commitment to evangelization that is animated by great compassion and mercy toward the vulnerability and weakness of human love."
"The dynamism of the relationship among God, man and woman is a golden key that unlocks the meaning of the world and of history and of all that is in them, as well as, after all, something of the depth of the love that is God Himself. Can we embrace the greatness of such a revelation?" he asked. "Do we know how to keep the new generations from giving up and bring them back to the boldness of this plan?"
In the face of this, Pope Francis recalled the reality of sin, saying that "we have to learn not to resign ourselves to human failure but rather to support the fulfillment of God's plan by every means possible."
He quoted from his apostolic exhortation on love in the family, Amoris laetitia, saying it is right to admit that at times "we have presented a theological ideal of matrimony that is too abstract, almost artificial, far from the concrete situation of families and from what they are capable of in their day-to-day lives. This excessive idealization, particularly when we haven't reawakened any trust in grace, hasn't made matrimony more desirable and attractive, it has made it less so."
The justice of God "shines forth in His faithfulness to his promise, and the splendor of that faithfulness … is the mercy He bestows," Francis commented.
He stated that the 2014 and 2015 Synods on the Family "were in agreement about the need to broaden the Church's understanding of and love for the mystery of human love that reveals God's love for everyone," and that Amoris laetitia "emphasizes this wider understanding of love and calls on the whole People of God to make the family dimension of the Church more visible and more effective."
Christian families should become proud of putting grace "at the service of all those who, poor and abandoned, despair of ever finding it, or getting it back. Pastoral discourse today isn't just about how far many Christians are from the ideal and the practice of the Christian truth about matrimony and the family," he said.
"Much more important is the idea of the Church's 'closeness' – closeness to new generations of married couples in making the Church's blessing of the matrimonial and family ever more central to their lives, and in helping them confront human weakness so that grace can deliver, give new life and heal."
The Pope called the "unbreakable bond between the Church and its sons and daughters" the "clearest witness we have of God's faithful and merciful love."
The John Paul II Institute is tasked with supporting "the necessary openness of intelligence formed by faith in the service of the pastoral mission of Peter's Successor," he told them, recalling the importance of pastors – and theologians – of "smelling like the sheep".
"Theology and pastoral care go hand in hand," he said. "Theological doctrine that doesn't let itself be directed and formed by its evangelizing purpose and by the Church's pastoral concerns is no less unthinkable than pastoral activity that doesn't know how to use revelation and tradition to better understand the Faith and preach it as Jesus commands."
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Pope Francis concluded his address, saying the Church's mission "must be rooted in the happiness that faith brings and in the humility that marks joyful service to the Church. The Church that is, not imaginary churches that we think should be."
"The living Church in which we live, the beautiful Church to which we belong, the Church of the one Lord and one Spirit to which we commit ourselves as servants who are 'worthless' but who offer their best to the Lord, the Church that we love so that all can love it, the Church in which we feel ourselves loved more than we deserve, and for which we are ready to sacrifice with perfect happiness!"