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Pope Francis greets families associated with the Retrouvaille Association Pope Francis greets families associated with the Retrouvaille Association  (Vatican Media)

Pope praises group helping married couples overcome crisis

On Saturday morning, Pope Francis met with members of the Retrouvaille association, a worldwide group that helps married couples in crisis find ways to address the root problems in their relationships and move towards healing and renewal. The Pope expressed his gratitude for their commitment and encouraged them to persevere in this important outreach.

By Vatican News staff writer

A Christian program of Catholic origin, the Retrouvaille Experience started in 1977 in Quebec, Canada, as a way to address in a new way the increasing numbers of married couples in difficulty. It led to a new type of healing ministry that has spread around the world since then. The Retrouvaille vision states that every marriage "deserves the opportunity to survive, be healed, and thrive as a covenant of life and love". Couples share their own personal stories and how they worked to overcome challenges in their relationships. It is a practical approach to improving communication between wives and husbands and rediscovering their love for each other to strengthen their marriage. 

Crisis and opportunity

In his address to the members present, Pope Francis began by focusing on the word "crisis", but also the word "opportunity", since every crisis offers an opportunity. He stressed that we should not be scared of a crisis, since we can learn and grow from it, especially to avoid ending up in conflicts that can lead to closing our hearts. A crisis in our life is not comfortable, he admitted, but it is possible to come out of it hopefully better, especially with the helping hand of others. 

From 'wounds' to healing

He also mentioned the "wounds" produced by crisis situations, as Retrouvaille is familiar with since they help wounded marital relationships move towards healing. And this is their gift, the Pope noted: being able to share their own experiences as couples who were once hurting and have overcome their own crises in order to be of service to other couples that find themselves in difficulty today. 

There is a great need today for couples who are able to give witness to the fact that a crisis is not a curse, but part of life's journey — and an opportunity, the Pope noted. However, in order to be "credible", you need to have experienced it. Theoretical talks or "pious exhortations" are not believable, he said, but the "life testimony" they bring is: "You were in crisis and hurting, but, thanks be to God, with the help of your brothers and sisters you were healed, and now you share this experience in the service of helping others".

Accompaniment

The Pope then focused on another word in particular, "accompaniment", saying this of course concerns priests and their pastoral ministry, but it also involves married couples as protagonists in being close to other couples in their community. He praised how their work started from the grassroots, as the Holy Spirit brings forth in the Church new outreach that responds to new needs. Accompaniment is the first response to helping so many couples in difficulty, he noted, and this requires time, patience, respect, and availability, as the Retrouvaille members know so well.

In conclusion, the Pope thanked his audience members for their commitment, and he encouraged them to continue in their efforts, entrusting them to the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph. 

06 November 2021, 12:30