By Sarah Mac Donald - 27 October, 2014
In a question and answer session with 7,000 members of the Schoenstatt movement, an international Marian organisation celebrating the centenary of its founding, the Pope said marriage should not be seen just a social rite.
He also warned that the institution of Christian marriage has never been attacked so much as nowadays where a temporary or throw-away culture has become widespread.
In spontaneous off-the-cuff comments, the Pontiff talked about mistaken views about marriage and its true meaning, our temporary or throw-away culture, the need to be courageous and daring, Mary’s missionary role, the disunity of the Devil and why the concept of solidarity is under attack.
The Pope said the Christian family and marriage have never been so attacked as they are nowadays because of growing relativism over the concept of the sacrament of marriage.
Asked by the pilgrims gathered in the Vatican’s Paul VI Audience Hall on Saturday for advice for those who don’t feel welcome in the Church, Pope Francis stressed the need for priests to stay close to each one of their flock without becoming scandalised over what takes place within the family.
He said a bishop during the recent Synod on the family asked whether priests are aware of what children feel and the psychological damage caused when their parents separate.
When it comes to preparing for marriage, Pope Francis said all too often there is a misunderstanding over the difference between the sacrament of marriage and the social rite.
“Marriage is for ever,” he said, “but in our present society there is a temporary or throw-away culture that has become widespread.”
Asked about reform of the Church, the Pope said people describe him as a revolutionary but he went on to point out that the Church has always been that way and is constantly reforming itself.
He stressed that the first revolution or way of renewing the Church is through inner holiness and that counts far more than more external ways such as reforming the Curia and the Vatican bank.
Pope Francis also spoke about the importance of having a freedom of spirit and warned against closing ourselves up in a mass of rules and regulations, thus becoming a caricature of the doctors of law.
The theme of today’s throw-away society was touched on again by the Pope in another reply when he said our present-day culture is one that destroys the human bonds that bind us together.
In this context, he continued, one word that is at risk of dying in our society is ‘solidarity’ and this is also a symptom of our inability to forge alliances.
Pope Francis also warned about the Devil, stressing that he exists, uses disunity as his first weapon.