The Roman Rota is one of the three courts of the Holy See, along with the Apostolic Penitentiary and the Apostolic Signatura. Among the Rota's primary responsibilities is considering appeals in marriage nullity, or annulment, cases.
"The society in which we live is increasingly secularized, and does not favor the growth of the faith, with the consequence that the Catholic faithful find it hard to witness a lifestyle according to the Gospel, including the Sacrament of Marriage," the pope told the Rota's members.
Engaged couples need formation, particularly with examples of unity and fidelity in marriage, Pope Francis explained, pointing out that in all interpersonal and social relationships there is a general "lack of fidelity to the word given and to the commitments undertaken."
The pope said that couples continue to need "the constant and pastoral care of the Church" after marriage. He recommended the sacraments, "lectio divina," catechetical meetings, spiritual direction, family groups, and charitable service to strengthen a marriage.
For marriage inspiration, Catholics can turn to the Scriptural account of Priscilla and Aquila, a married couple who were active members of the early Roman Christian community and faithful companions in the missionary work of St. Paul, Francis said.
Pope Francis noted how the "love and marital fidelity of the spouses Aquila and Priscilla were of great comfort for Paul and Apollo," and said that this "synergy" in collaboration among early married Christians and the Apostle Paul was "a precious gift of the Spirit to the first Christian communities."