Reflection: In today’s Gospel, the Pharisees approach Jesus to ask if it is lawful for a husband to divorce his wife. Interestingly, before He explains that divorce is not lawful, Jesus first explains what marriage is – the union of one man and one woman: “But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh (Mark 10: 6-8).”
The Church’s teaching on marriage is not founded on statistical data nor merely in upholding tradition, but is rooted in the truth of the human person: men and women are created “in the image of God” as male and female. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that “marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they come from the hand of the Creator (no. 1603).” Furthermore, what is truly united can never be separated. This is why the union of a man and woman in marriage is permanent: “So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate (Mark 10: 8-9).”
Did You Know? At the beginning of the Extraordinary Consistory, Pope Francis addressed the College of Cardinals and introduced their topic of discussion. “During these days, we will reflect in particular on the family, which is the fundamental cell of society. From the beginning the Creator blessed man and woman so that they might be fruitful and multiply, and so the family then is an image of the Triune God in the world.”
February 26, 2014
Pope Francis recently wrote a letter to every family throughout the world, asking for prayers for the upcoming Synod in October. He begins, “With this letter, I wish, as it were, to come into your homes to speak about an event which will take place at the Vatican this coming October. It is the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which is being convened to discuss the theme of ‘pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelization’. Indeed, in our day the Church is called to proclaim the Gospel by confronting the new and urgent pastoral needs facing the family.”
He continued, “Such support on your part, dear families, is especially significant and more necessary than ever. This Synodal Assembly is dedicated in a special way to you, to your vocation and mission in the Church and in society; to the challenges of marriage, of family life, of the education of children; and the role of the family in the life of the Church. I ask you, therefore, to pray intensely to the Holy Spirit, so that the Spirit may illumine the Synodal Fathers and guide them in their important task. As you know, this Extraordinary Synodal Assembly will be followed a year later by the Ordinary Assembly, which will also have the family as its theme. In that context, there will also be the World Meeting of Families due to take place in Philadelphia in September 2015. May we all, then, pray together so that through these events the Church will undertake a true journey of discernment and adopt the necessary pastoral means to help families face their present challenges with the light and strength that comes from the Gospel.”
In concluding his letter, the Pope again emphasized the importance of prayer. “Dear families, your prayer for the Synod of Bishops will be a precious treasure which enriches the Church. I thank you, and I ask you to pray also for me, so that I may serve the People of God in truth and in love.”
For those looking for ways to participate in the Pope’s request, the U.S. Bishops have invited the faithful to join a nationwide movement of prayer, penance, and sacrifice for the sake of renewing a culture of life, marriage, and religious liberty. For more information on this “Call to Prayer,” visit usccb.org/pray.
Pope Francis’ full letter to families can be found here.
February 23, 2014
Before creating 19 new Cardinals yesterday, Pope Francis addressed the College of Cardinals on Thursday morning and introduced their topic of discussion during the Extraordinary Consistory.
“During these days, we will reflect in particular on the family, which is the fundamental cell of society. From the beginning the Creator blessed man and woman so that they might be fruitful and multiply, and so the family then is an image of the Triune God in the world.”
Pope Francis continued, “Our reflections must keep before us the beauty of the family and marriage, the greatness of this human reality which is so simple and yet so rich, consisting of joys and hopes, of struggles and sufferings, as is the whole of life. We will seek to deepen the theology of the family and discern the pastoral practices which our present situation requires. May we do so thoughtfully and without falling into ‘casuistry’, because this would inevitably diminish the quality of our work. Today, the family is looked down upon and mistreated. We are called to acknowledge how beautiful, true and good it is to start a family, to be a family today; and how indispensable the family is for the life of the world and for the future of humanity.”
-Address of Pope Francis to the Extraordinary Consistory, February 20, 2014 (bold added)
Archbishop Cordileone: Marriage Protection Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is needed
Amendment is only remedy against judicial activism
Elemental truth of marriage deserves highest protection in law
February 19, 2014
WASHINGTON—Expressing strong support for the federal Marriage Protection Amendment (H. J. Res. 51) introduced by Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) in the U.S. House of Representatives, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco said, “The amendment would secure in law throughout the country the basic truth known to reason that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.” Archbishop Cordileone , chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, made the comments in a February 19 letter of support to Rep. Huelskamp.
Referencing recent federal court decisions striking down a number of state marriage laws, Archbishop Cordileone said, “An amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the only remedy in law against this judicial activism that may ultimately end with federal judges declaring that the U.S. Constitution requires states, and consequently the federal government, to redefine marriage.” He added, “Just as Roe v. Wade mandated a constitutional right to abortion throughout the country, we now have the possibility of another bad decision mandating a constitutional change in the meaning of marriage in order to promote (at least to begin with) ‘marriages’ between two people of the same sex throughout the country. Your proposed Marriage Protection Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is, therefore, a needed remedy.”
Archbishop Cordileone also said, “Preserving this elemental truth is necessary for the good of society at large and for the good of children who deserve the love of both a mother and a father, neither of whom is expendable. Indeed, marriage is the only institution that unites a man and a woman to each other and to any child conceived of their union.” Archbishop Cordileone also commented on the nature of the recent federal court decisions by saying, “Federal court opinions that essentially redefine marriage to be merely a state recognized arrangement of intimate adult relationships ignore the truth about marriage, which deserves the highest protection in law.”
Archbishop Cordileone urged the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the Marriage Protection Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and encouraged members to join the resolution as cosponsors.
Archbishop Cordileone’s letter can be found online.
For H.J. Res. 51 to amend the U.S. Constitution, it must be approved by two-thirds of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate and then be ratified by three-fourths of the states.
Marriage: Unique for a Reason is kicking off the first day of National Marriage Week with the release of its newest catechetical film, “El Matrimonio: Hecho para el amor y la vida.” “This is a one-of-a kind resource, and it is my hope that “El Matrimonio” will be a fruitful tool for advancing the conversation in both Spanish- and English-speaking communities on the true meaning of marriage,” said Archbishop Cordileone of the film. The 30 minute Spanish telenovela-style video and bilingual study guide is perfect for clergy, catechists, teachers, other leaders and viewers, as it explores five main themes: sexual difference and complementarity, children, the common good, religious freedom, and persons who experience same-sex attraction.
“The film’s story conveys real difficulties that numerous families encounter, but with compassion and without compromising the truth about God’s loving plan for marriage and family. In this way, the film portrays what we are all called to do: to love without compromising the truth, and to be witnesses to God’s plan with love and mercy. Love and truth go together. I pray that this film will provide opportunities for a deeper and more thoughtful study of, and increased reflection on the gift of marriage.”
For the full press release, click here.
Reflection: In his Apostolic Exhortation, Familiaris Consortio, Blessed John Paul II called attention to the need for pastoral care of families that bear the cross of difficult family situations. “Loneliness and other difficulties are often the lot of separated spouses, especially when they are the innocent parties.” He continued by explaining that “the ecclesial community must support such people more than ever…and it must help them to cultivate the need to forgive which is inherent in Christian love…” Troubled or broken marriages are particularly difficult for the children, who naturally identify their existence with the love between their mother and father. When that love no longer appears to exist, a deep rooted loss of self may begin to be felt. Although it may be very difficult, with the help of God’s grace, it is always possible to heal from the wounds of division. As Blessed John Paul II emphasized, “No one is without a family in this world: the Church is a home and family for everyone, especially those who ‘labor and are heavy laden (no. 85).’”
Did You Know? Today is the first day of National Marriage Week. Join us from February 7-14 in the campaign to strengthen marriages and build a stronger marriage culture by promoting and defending the truth of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. For information on how you can participate, visit the National Marriage Week website.
Archbishop Cordileone: “You cannot be consistently pro-life without being pro-marriage: the two go together”
On Saturday, January 25th, thousands of people came together in San Francisco to witness to the sacredness and dignity of the human person, marking the 10th anniversary of the West Coast Walk for Life. Before the Walk, nearly 4,000 people met for mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral, where Archbishop Cordileone explained that the defense of life and defense of marriage movements go hand-in-hand. “You cannot be consistently pro-life without being pro-marriage: the two go together.” He explained further, “The pro-life movement is about more than saving the life of the baby. It’s about giving that baby all the care, love and nurturing he or she needs to grow up happy and healthy and to achieve his or her total potential in life…It’s especially about connecting that baby to where he or she came from: the mother and the father. And that, my friends, is the whole point of marriage: to connect husbands and wives to each other and to any children they bring into the world. There is no other institution that does that, that connects children to their mother and father. Marriage is primarily about the children, not the adults…”
Archbishop Cordileone continued, “My young people: your elders in the pro-life movement have stayed the course during some very hostile and dark times, and now the pro-life movement is stronger than it ever has been. Now it is your turn. It is this wider picture of the pro-life movement that is now the critical issue of the moment and, yes, I won’t hesitate to say it: it is under attack. Yes, marriage is under attack, but not just recently; this has been going on in our society for a very long time now, actually, for at least as long as the abortion-rights movement has been in existence. And it stands to reason, as both are manifestations of what Pope Francis so often refers to as the ‘throw away’ culture. A baby in the womb is thrown away because at least one of the two people who brought that baby into the world has thrown the other away, has rejected the other as someone worthy of commitment, self-surrender, and unconditional love. This is what marriage is and is for: not a privileged social status, not a government recognition of people’s love life, not a special relationship one stays in as long as one is deriving some immediate benefit from it, but a self-surrender of husband and wife to each other for the sake of the children they bring into the world – just like Christ and the Church, as St. Paul teaches us.
“Now the same contempt, accusations and name-calling are being hurled at those who stand for the truth of marriage as were hurled against those who stood for life a generation and two ago. But we cannot allow ourselves to be shamed into silence. The truth needs a voice, and you, my dear young people, are that voice for the next generation. And your voice must be heard so that – just as you now understand the harm that abortion does to women despite the lies perpetrated by the abortion industry – so future generations will understand that the natural truth of marriage benefits everyone and discriminates against no one; no one is harmed and everyone benefits when government enshrines in the law the right of everyone to have a mother and a father. But prepare yourselves: it will require heroic virtue, for there is a lot of reverse bullying going on these days.” (Bold added)
For Archbishop Cordileone’s full homily, click here.
Reflection: Along with Christmas, we will be celebrating the Feast of the Holy Family this weekend! The Holy Family stands as a great example for each of our families. Although they faced many trials and difficulties, Mary and Joseph were able to remain joyful through it all because Christ was with them. In the words of Pope Francis, “…true joy even remains during times of trial too, even in suffering, because it is not superficial joy but enters into the very depths of the person who entrusts himself to God and confides in him…Those who have met Jesus along the way have experienced a joy that nothing and no one can take away. Jesus Christ is our joy! His faithful love is inexhaustible!” So, even though our families may surely face many difficulties, we can remain joyful because we do not have to face these trials alone. Christ is with us!
Did You Know? Although Christmas Day was two days ago, the Christmas Season has only just begun! In fact, the Church continues celebrating until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord on January 12th. So, don’t take down those Christmas decorations just yet; keep the celebration going!
Reflection: Under challenging circumstances, some parents expecting a baby may discern that choosing what’s best for their child means generously placing him or her with an adoptive mother and father. That selfless, courageous decision is far from easy, so it’s vital that we give birthparents our support.
As Cardinal O’Malley encouraged us, “Obviously, we must never abandon our commitment to the unborn child, a precious human being made in the image and likeness of God. But we must learn to focus more on the woman in crisis. We must listen with empathy to be able to communicate the Gospel of Life” (Homily, Opening Mass of the 2013 National Prayer Vigil for Life).
Remembering our own adoption as children of God through Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:5), let us support those who may be considering adoption – both those we know personally in our own lives and those whom we may not have even met.
Did You Know? November is National Adoption Month! In “The Blessing of ‘Unanswered Prayers’: An Adoption Story,” MaryPat St. Jean shares her family’s experience of welcoming four adopted children into their home.
- Learn about the Bishops’ Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty
- Sign the pledge to fast on Fridays for life, marriage, and religious liberty
- Join the Call to Prayer Facebook event
An estimated 100,000 pilgrims traveled to Rome to celebrate the World Day of Families with Pope Francis this weekend. In his address to the participants, Pope Francis asked “how is it possible to live the joy which comes from faith, in the family, today? But I ask you also: is it possible to live this joy or is it not possible?” It is by coming to Jesus, the Pope said, that we are able to find joy. He explained that when a man and woman marry, “the couple does not know what will happen, nor what joys and pains await them.” Spouses are not naïve, Pope Francis explained. Marriage is a difficult vocation.
“That is why we need the grace, the grace that comes from the sacrament! The sacraments are not decorations in life – what a beautiful marriage, what a beautiful ceremony, what a beautiful banquet…But that is not the sacrament of marriage. That is a decoration! Grace is not given to decorate life but rather to make us strong in life, giving us courage to go forwards!…Christians celebrate the sacrament of marriage because they know they need it! They need it to stay together and to carry out their mission as parents. ..it is a long journey, not for a brief spell but for an entire life! And they need Jesus’ help to walk beside one another in trust, to accept one another each day, and daily to forgive one another. And this is important!”
In his homily on Sunday, Pope Francis reflected on some “basic features of the Christian family.” He explained that the family prays, the family keeps the faith, and the family experiences joy. “God alone knows how to create harmony from differences. But if God’s love is lacking, the family loses its harmony, self-centredness prevails and joy fades. But the family which experiences the joy of faith communicates it naturally. That family is the salt of the earth and the light of the world, it is the leaven of society as a whole.”
-World Pilgrimage of Families, Rome (October 26-27, 2013), (bold added)