Thursday, 22 October 2015

Pope Francis affirms fidelity in marriage: "Fidelity to the promise, a work of art"

Vatican Information Service have entitled their report of Pope Francis' General Audience address yesterday: Fidelity to the promise, a work of art. It continues the Holy Father's series of addresses dedicated to the family. The full text of the address, in Italian, is at the Vatican website here.

I think Pope Francis speaks very much to a contemporary situation - he highlights how many today approach a marriage, or other relationship, on the basis of its fulfilment of their own satisfaction and how this can be exalted as a principle above all others. From there Pope Francis goes on to discuss the freedom that arises from fidelity to the promises made in marriage, promises that are made to a spouse, to openness to children and to the older or weaker members of a family. Fidelity generates a bond that does not deny freedom.
Possiamo aggiungere che, a ben guardare, l’intera realtà famigliare è fondata sulla promessa - pensare bene questo: l’identità famigliare è fondata sulla promessa -: si può dire che la famiglia vive della promessa d’amore e di fedeltà che l’uomo e la donna si fanno l’un l’altra.
[... the whole family reality is built on a promise - recall this well: the family identity is founded on a promise - : one can say that the family lives from the promise of love and faithfulness that a man and a woman make one to the other.]
And an excerpt from the VIS report:
“Being faithful to promises is a true work of art by humanity”, added Pope Francis. “No relationship of love – no friendship, no form of caring for another person, no joy of the common good – reaches the height of our desire and our hope, if it does not arrive at the point of inhabiting this miracle of the soul. And I use the word 'miracle', because the strength and persuasiveness of fidelity, in spite of everything, can only enchant and surprise us. …  
[The word used in the Italian original is "capolavoro", or "masterpiece", translated in the VIS report as "true work of art"]

The way in which Pope Francis extends his reflection on fidelity in marriage to any form of friendship suggests a theme for consideration in marriage preparation. Should not young people who are dating, or engaged couples, use their friendships as a school of growth in this practice of fidelity?

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