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A New Horizon

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A New Horizon

At the heart of the pastoral challenge
which the Church faces today with regard to the family, there is the crucial
theme of “€œcloseness”€. Pope Francis addressed this challenge when speaking to
members of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for
Studies on Marriage and the Family, whom he received in audience on Thursday,
27 October, in the Clementine Hall. In light of this theme, the Pontiff said,
the Institute is responsible for building a “€œnew horizon”€, being as it is
“€œcalled to support the necessary openness of the intelligence of faith, in the
service to pastoral concern of Peter”€™s successor”€.

In response to the greetings delivered by the Grand Chancellor of the Institute,
Archbishop Paglia, and to the Dean, Msgr Sequeri, the Pope recalled the fruits
of the two Synod of Bishops dedicated to the family. Between 2014-2015, the
gatherings brought rallied together the “€œbishops of the world, cum Petro et
sub Petro”€, and demonstrated “€œthe need to expand the Church”€™s understanding
and care for this mystery of human love, in which God”€™s love opens the way for
everyone.”€ This expansion, which is addressed in L”€™Amoris Laetitia,
calls upon the “€œentire people of God to make more visible the familial
dimension of the Church”€. In essence, it
ensures “€œcloseness to new generations of spouses “€“ in order that the blessing upon their union
might ever more convince and accompany them “€“ and closeness to situations of
human weakness, in order that grace may redeem them, revive them, and heal

The Pontiff reaffirmed the Institute”€™s mission in this sphere, and recalled how
theology and pastoral care must go together. “€œA theological doctrine which does
not let itself be guided and shaped by the evangelizing objective and the
pastoral care of the Church”€, he explained, “€œis just as unthinkable as a
ministry of the Church which is not aware of the treasure of Revelation and
Tradition in view of a higher Intelligence and transmission of the faith”€. Francis especially recommended that those
present “€œapply themselves with the greatest enthusiasm to the redemption “€“ I
would almost say rehabilitation “€“ of this extraordinary “€˜invention”€™ of Divine
creation”€, recalling that, “€œat times we have presented an overly abstract
theological ideal of marriage”€. The Pope went on to caution against the
“€œdisconcerting”€ cultural tendency to “€œeliminate the [gender] difference”€
between men and women.

During an earlier audience with the Santa Marta group, the Pontiff issued a new appeal
against the trafficking of human beings, which he described as “€œa social evil”€
which strikes at “€œthe most defenceless, who are robbed of their dignity, their
physical and psychological integrity, even their lives”€.


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