In his two addresses today, Pope Francis reiterated the importance of strong, stable families for the future of society, insisting that man and woman are both essential.
In his first address, delivered before a group of several hundred scholars and interreligious leaders, Francis said that in our time “marriage and the family are in crisis. We live in a short-term culture, as more and more people renounce marriage as a public commitment.”
The Pope underscored the importance of both the man and the woman in a marriage, noting that “each man and each woman brings their own personal contribution to the marriage and education of children,” and that this “complementarity is the basis of marriage and the family.”
Therefore, the Pope said, “children have the right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother, able to create a suitable environment for their development and their emotional maturity.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines marriage as a covenant “by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life.”
Francis also said that “the family remains the foundation of the community and the guarantee against social disintegration.”
The Pope warned against speaking of the family in an ideological way. “The family is an anthropological reality,” he said, “and thus also a social and cultural reality.”
Later in the morning, Pope Francis received a group of bishops from Zambia, and once again chose marriage and family as his topic.
The Pope spoke of “great challenges which militate against stability in social and ecclesial life, in particular for families. When family life is endangered, then the life of faith is also put at risk.”
Francis told the bishops that “the weakening of family bonds is particularly serious because the family is the fundamental cell of society, where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another; it is also the place where parents pass on the faith to their children.”
The Pope asked the bishops to help “form strong Christian families,” so they will “know, understand and love the truths of the faith more deeply, and thus be protected from those currents which may tempt them to fall away.”
However, despite all the difficulties, the Pope concluded, “it is a time not to be discouraged but rather to offer the true freedom which only the Lord can give.”