Pope: “The Church must closely accompany couples towards marriage”

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Pope Francis writes the preface to guidelines for creating “Catechumenal Itineraries for Married Life,” and urges the Church to help better prepare future spouses for marriage to avoid the suffering caused by broken families.

By Devin Watkins

The Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life on Wednesday released new pastoral guidelines for local Churches, which chart the way towards the creation of “Catechumenal Itineraries for Married Life.”

Pope Francis wrote the preface to the Document, saying it represents a “fruit” of the Family year Amoris Laetitia marking his Apostolic Exhortation on the family.

“The Church, in every age, is called to proclaim anew the beauty and abundance of grace contained in the sacrament of marriage and the family life that flows from it, especially for the young.”

Reduce the number of void or failed marriages

The Pope said the Document charts a path towards a true “catechumenate,” based on the model of the ancient baptismal catechumenate for adults, to help them build their marriages on the rock of faith.

Many couples, he noted, receive only superficial preparation before their marriage and therefore risk placing their marriage on such shaky ground that it “collapses in a short time and cannot even resist. to the first inevitable crises”.

“Marriage failures cause great suffering and leave deep wounds in people. They become disillusioned, bitter and, in the most painful cases, even end up no longer believing in the vocation to love, inscribed by God himself in the heart of the human being.

The Mother Church accompanies couples

In response, Pope Francis said, the Church must accompany couples seeking to marry in the Church, driven by a desire for justice.

Just as no mother has a favorite among her children, the Church does not treat her children any differently. Therefore, the Church must devote much time and energy to accompanying engaged couples towards marriage, as it does for men seeking to become priests or for women and men entering religious life.

Married couples, he said, “are true ‘guardians of life’, not only because they beget children, bring them up and support their growth, but also because they take care of the elderly. of their families and dedicate themselves to the service of people”. disabled and often to people living in poverty with whom they come into contact.

Walk together on a stretch of road

Pope Francis then reiterated his wish for the local Churches to set up a “true catechumenate for future spouses which includes all the stages of the sacramental journey: the time of preparation for marriage, its celebration, and the years immediately following “.

“The goal is to walk an important stretch of road with couples on the journey of life, even after marriage, especially in times of crisis or discouragement,” the Pope said.

Gift and responsibility

The Document, he added, is both a gift and a responsibility, as it offers a wealth of abundant material while calling on local churches to adapt its orientations into concrete programs based on cultural sensitivities.

“I appeal to the docility, zeal and creativity of the pastors of the Church, and of those who assist them, to increase the effectiveness of the vital and indispensable work of formation, proclamation and accompaniment of families, which the Holy Spirit asks us to accomplish. perform at that time.

Pope Francis concluded his preface to the document “Catechumenal Itineraries for Married Life” by urging the pastors of the Church to show courage in the face of this new responsibility.

“Let us put our minds and hearts at the service of future families,” he said. “I assure you that the Lord will sustain us, give us wisdom and strength, increase our enthusiasm and, above all, allow us to experience the “delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing” by proclaiming the Gospel of the family to new generations. »

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