Catholic World News

Marriage is fruitful for spouses, children, and society, Pope tells Milan meeting

June 04, 2012

At the closing Mass for the 7th World Meeting of Families, Pope Benedict XVI said that marriage should be fruitful for the spouses, fruitful in the procreation of children, and fruitful for society.

Marriage is fruitful for society, the Pope explained in his homily at the closing Mass, attended by 1 million people, “because family life is the first and irreplaceable school of social virtues, such as respect for persons, gratuitousness, trust, responsibility, solidarity, cooperation.”

At his first meeting with participants in the World Meeting of Families, the Holy Father had spoken of the need to “purify” love by commitment. He explained that “falling in love” is not necessarily the same as making a lifelong pledge of fidelity. “In the rite of Marriage,” he reminded couples, “the Church does not ask whether your are in love but… whether you are resolved.”

Earlier, in a talk to civic leaders of Milan and the surrounding region of Lombardy, the Pope had insisted that the state has an obligation “to recognize the specific identity of the family, founded on marriage and open to life, and the right of parents freely to choose the education and formation of their children.” He said that a just society must form its laws on the basis of the natural law, “which is the foundation for a social order adapted to the dignity of the human person.”

Most of the Pope’s public talks during his weekend visit to Milan were focused on the family. But he also delivered two addresses to special groups. To the clergy, he said: “The daily prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours is an essential task of the ordained ministry.” He added that priestly celibacy is a “luminous sign of pastoral charity and an undivided heart.” To young people in this year’s Confirmation class, he said, “The gifts of the Holy Spirit are stupendous!” Urging the young people to live out their faith completely, he said: “Be open and generous towards others, vanquishing the temptation to place yourselves at the center, because selfishness is the enemy of authentic joy.”

Twice during his weekend trip the Pope alluded to the difficulties that face divorced couples. In a question-and-answer session with participants in the meeting, he remarked that divorce is “one of the the great causes of suffering for the Church today, and we do not have simple solutions.” He said that the Church must be sensitive to the pastoral needs of divorced couples, and “must do everything possible so that such people feel loved and accepted, that they are not 'outsiders' even if they cannot receive absolution and the Eucharist.”

In his homily at the closing Mass the Pontiff returned to that topic, saying:

I should also like to address a word to the faithful who, even though they agree with the Church’s teachings on the family, have had painful experiences of breakdown and separation. I want you to know that the Pope and the Church support you in your struggle. I encourage you to remain united to your communities, and I earnestly hope that your dioceses are developing suitable initiatives to welcome and accompany you.
During the course of his weekend trip the Pope did not directly address the problems that have been plaguing the Vatican recently: problems that were emphasized anew on Sunday when an Italian newspaper published a new set of leaked papal documents. But he seemed to address the issue indirectly when he spoke with the bishops of the region. "If from time to time we may think that the Ship of Peter is at the mercy of ruthless adversaries," the Pope said, "it is also true that we see that the Lord is present, He is alive, He truly rose again and holds the government of the world and the heart of mankind in His hand."

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