Rome, Italy, Sep 27, 2018 / 09:42 am
Pope Francis has stressed the need for ongoing formation for couples, before and after marriage, saying that even the basic teachings of the Church “could not be taken for granted.” The pope spoke in an address to participants in a recent course on marriage and family life held in Rome.
Speaking Sept. 27 in the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran to an audience of priests, deacons, and lay people, Francis renewed his call for a “permanent catechumenate for the sacrament of marriage,” saying it was essential for couples to receive ongoing formation both before and after their wedding.
The course, which ran Sept. 24-26, was sponsored by the Diocese of Rome and the Roman Rota, the Church’s highest appellate court which handles marriage nullity cases.
Francis has previously insisted on the need for better, longer, more comprehensive instruction for couples in his annual addresses to the Rota.
“The greater effectiveness of pastoral care is realized where the accompaniment does not end with the celebration of the wedding, but escorts them at least for the first years of married life” the pope said.
Francis told the attendees that marriage was “a vast, complex and delicate apostolic field” which required the full energy and enthusiasm of the Church.
Praising the “courageous” witness of St. John Paul II on the family in the modern world, Francis said he sought to build upon the legacy of his “farsighted” predecessors through his reform of canon law in marriage nullity cases and in the pastoral application of his post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia. The Pope said the aim of both of these efforts was to address the “urgent” need for comprehensive marriage formation.
“Marriage is not just a 'social' event, but a true sacrament that involves an adequate preparation and a conscious celebration,” the pope said. “The marriage bond, in fact, requires an engaged choice on the part of the engaged couple, which focuses on the will to build together something that must never be betrayed or abandoned.”