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Crisis of faith causes crisis in marriage, Pope tells Roman tribunal

Catholic World News - January 28, 2013

The “current crisis of faith” has led to a crisis in marriage, Pope Benedict XVI said in a January 26 address to members of the tribunal of the Roman Rota.

“Contemporary culture, marked by a strong subjectivism and an ethical and religious relativism, poses serious challenges to the person and the family,” the Pope told the judges who handle the marriage cases that come before the Vatican tribunal. The papal address, delivered in the Clementine Hall of the apostolic palace, marked the opening of the judicial year for the Roman Rota.

The secular world raises questions about “the very capacity of human beings to bond themselves to another,” the Pope observed. He pointed to the increasingly widespread belief that “persons might become themselves while remaining ‘autonomous’ and only entering into relationships with others that can be interrupted at any time is part of a widespread mentality.”

Such thinking, the Pope continued, is based on “an erroneous understanding of freedom and self-realization.” The result, he said, “condemns humanity to becoming locked within its own selfishness and self-centredness.”

Faith in God is not by itself a sure cure for marital problems, the Pope acknowledged. However, “closing oneself off from God or rejecting the sacred dimension of the conjugal bond and its value in the order of grace make the concrete embodiment of the highest model of marriage conceived of by the Church, according to God’s plan, arduous.”

Pope Benedict remarked that many saints have been models of marital fidelity, even under difficult circumstances. In our society, he said, a very important witness can be offered by “the spouse who has been abandoned or who has suffered a divorce—being well aware that the valid marriage bond is indissoluble--and refraining from becoming involved in a new union.”

The Pontiff went on to say that religious faith is also important to recognizing the bonum coniugum: the “authentic conjugal good, which consists simply in wanting, always and in every case, the welfare of the other.” When one or both partners in a marital union has an improper understanding of this bonum coniugum, the Pope said, the validity of the marital bond may be in question.

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