Pope Francis attends a meeting with the Family Promotion Association "Marriage Encounter" at the Vatican Pope Francis attends a meeting with the Family Promotion Association "Marriage Encounter" at the Vatican  (REUTERS)

Pope highlights role of family in promoting fraternity and societal cohesion

Pope Francis praises the 45-years of work of the Association for the Promotion of the Family to deepen Sacraments of Matrimony and Holy Orders, emphasising their role in realizing God's dream of unity and love.

By Francesca Merlo

The Association for the Promotion of the Family has been on a remarkable journey over the past 45 years, and has been committed to rediscovering and deepening the Sacraments of Matrimony and Holy Orders.

Pope Francis met with members of the Association in the Vatican on Saturday as part of their "Marriage Meeting".

"Marriage and Holy Orders," he said, "although in different ways and according to the charisma proper to each, are intimately linked because both manifest God's love, building up the Mystical Body of the Church."

These two sacraments, though distinct, are intimately connected by the concept of spousal love, revealing God's profound love for humanity.

God's dream of unity

Pope Francis began his address by discussing the theme chosen for the occasion, "We are God's dream."

He said the spousal charism of the association is a prophetic instrument in realizing God's dream. He highlighted that God's dream is rooted in Jesus' call for His disciples to remain connected to Him, like branches to a vine, and in His prayer to the Father to preserve their unity.

The Holy Father emphasized, "God's dream for us is this: to unite us in His love, in His communion, to make us discover the beauty of divine sonship and fraternity amongs ourselves." 

Service to the Church and society

The association's vital role is not confined to the Church alone but extends to society," he said.

By providing guidance and support to both married couples and priests, the association contributes significantly to the realisation of God's dream.

However, this service is not achieved through abstract theories or extensive words but through genuine, loving engagement with people's lives. "You do not do this with many words or abstract theories, but above all by entering lovingly into the reality of people's concrete lives," he said.

He emphasised that faith is primarily an experience of relationships and encounters, underscoring the importance of experiencing God's love in our relationships with one another.

A call to relationship and encounter

The association closely observes the intricate dialogues within marriages and the complex situations priests face, encouraging fruitful exchanges to learn the art of relationship and communion.

By doing so, they actively promote God's dream of spousal communion, even in a world that sometimes prioritises individualism over love, remarked the Pope. 

"In this way you carry forward God's dream, a dream of spousal communion, in a time that sometimes prefers to tread the swampy paths of individualism instead of venturing towards the splendid heights of love," he said.

A sign for the Church

Pope Francis praised the Association for the Promotion of the Family as a sign for the life of the Church, emphasising the need for greater reciprocity between gifts, charisms, and ministries.

"The exchange between spouses and pastors favors the evangelizing action that we urgently need today," he urged.

Relationships, particularly those that exemplify the beauty of human connections, serve as a powerful means of proclaiming the richness of the Gospel and the boundless love God has for all of His creation.

A future of generosity and passion

Bringing his address to a close, Pope Francis encouraged the association to persist in its mission with generosity and passion.

He invited them to share the experiences of married couples, priests, and religious individuals, opening their path to young people and engaged couples. And he emphasised the importance of being guided by the Holy Spirit, the love of God, in their endeavors. 

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09 September 2023, 13:02