Pope Francis: Promises and Fidelity in Marriage

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By Benhur Arcayan (Malacañang Photo Bureau) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Pope Francis’s Wednesday General Audience on October 21 focused on the promise of love and fidelity made between husbands and wives. Contrary to popular thinking today, promises do not curtail personal freedom; rather, a promise to love must be made freely. The resulting fidelity in turn sets the couple and their family free. A couple’s fidelity to their promise to love is a blessing for the whole world because “no other school can teach the truth of love if the family does not do it.”

Before addressing fidelity, the pope reminded families of their fundamental call to receptivity, “A family that is shut-in on itself is a contradiction, a mortification of the promise that made it be born and that makes it live.

In our culture, many men and women seem incapable of a long-term commitment. Divorce rates are soaring because there is a modern mentality which says, “I do whatever I want and only what I must.”

Pope Benedict XVI articulated the false, modern concept which believes that Catholicism is a collection of prohibitions which burden people. Pope Benedict XVI clearly points out the opposite is true because Catholicism is a positive option. “We’ve heard so much about what is not allowed that now it’s time to say: we have a positive idea to offer.” Traditional marriage is not a Catholic invention: “I believe we need to see and reflect on the fact that it’s not a Catholic invention that man and woman are made for each other, so that humanity can go on living: all cultures know this.” (2006 interview)

Pope Francis teaches fidelity frees us to be our best because “our freedom is shaped and sustained by our fidelity to the choices and commitments we make throughout life…..fidelity to our promises is a supreme expression of our dignity as human beings.”

“Love generates union without taking away freedom. Love is free; the promise of the family is free. Without freedom, there is no friendship; without freedom, there is no love; without freedom, there is no marriage. Therefore, freedom and fidelity are not opposed to one another, what is more, they support one another, both in personal as well as in social relations.” The strength of fidelity is a miracle. It never ends but continually delights and surprises us. The honoring of the word given cannot be bought and sold, forced nor can it be lived out without sacrifice.

Rather than bemoaning the rise of marital infidelity, let us applaud the millions of men and women, hidden from the public eye, who regenerate their family’s foundation through their faithfulness and love, thereby strengthening the rest of society. “There is no greater school to teach us such fidelity than marriage and the family, which are, in God’s plan, a blessing for our world.”

Saint Paul affirms that in the family union an eternal truth is revealed about  the mysterious union of the Lord and the Church. Our fidelity to the promise is always entrusted to the grace and mercy of God. The love for the human family, in good and bad fortune, is a point of honor for the Church.

Pope Francis closed his audience by asking for prayer: “In these days of the Synod on the Family, let us pray that the Church will uphold and strengthen the promise of the family, with creativity and with unfailing trust in that faithful love by which the Lord fulfills his every promise.”

Copyright 2015 Melanie Jean Juneau
Photo by Benhur Arcayan (Malacañang Photo Bureau) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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About Author

Melanie Jean Juneau is a mother of nine children who blogs at joy of nine9. Her writing is humorous and heart-warming; thoughtful and thought-provoking. Part of her call and her witness is to write the truth about children, family, marriage and the sacredness of life. Melanie is the administrator of ACWB, the Editor in Chief at CatholicLane, CatholicStand, Catholic365 , CAPC & author of Echoes of the Divine.

3 Comments

  1. Though the Pope talks about fidelity, he as made anulments much easier to come by. (Yes, they really are!) The Synod on the Family seemed to be more focused on homosexual issues and on Communion for civilly divorced and remaried Catholics than on the effects of partner trading on children of marrriages which are anulled or just thrown away through divorce. Where is the mercy for abandoned spouses who find that the annulment they werehanded was based on a spouses’ claim of “immaturity” at the time vows were made? Am I missing something here?

    • I am not well versed in this Synod but I do know from the past that the press loves to sensationalize and divide us, cause in fighting, and upset those who are vulnerable or hurting . They take phrases or even paragraphs out of context.

      When I have looked into every other which has upset the faithful, I find this pope to be as wise, faithful to Catholic teaching as well as merciful.

      • DEar Melanie Jean, I am not referring to the press. I know how they exaggerate. I am referring to the ease of getting an anulment in some dioceses, and the seeming absence of what seems to be indepth discussions in this synod of the real reason for marriage…the children. Women and children seem to be losers as far as the outcome of this synod has been reported…and yes, I do await the belaed English translation of the Italian document before arriving at a totaly informed conclusion.
        Europe is experiencing self-immolation, and we are following in their footsteps to the point where I don’t even know if sin exists anymore in the constructs of many European prelates atteding the synod. Bring back St. Pope John Paul II !!

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