Proclaim the Truth About Marriage Firmly, Pope Urges Bishops

Focuses on Family Crisis During Argentines´ Visit

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 5, 2002 ( John Paul II focused on the crisis of the family in an address to visiting Argentine bishops, urging that the truth about marriage be taught with «pastoral firmness.»

In his Feb. 12 address to a first group of Argentine bishops on their quinquennial «ad limina» visit to Rome, the Pope focused on the South American nation´s economic and social crisis. Today, he expressed his special concern for «the institution of the family, so attacked on different fronts today with multiple and subtle arguments.»

«We are witnessing a current, very widespread in some parts, which tends to weaken its true nature,» the Pope warned. «At times, Catholic faithful themselves, for different reasons, do not take recourse to the sacrament of marriage to begin their union in love.»

John Paul II said «the extent of the crisis of marriage and the family must not lead to dejection or negligence; on the contrary, it must impel us to proclaim with pastoral firmness, as an authentic service to the family and society, the truth about marriage and the family established by God.»

«To cease to do this would be a serious pastoral omission that would lead believers into error, as well as those who have the grave responsibility to make decisions for the common good of the nation,» the Pope warned.

He added that it is not a question «only for Catholics, but for all men and women without distinction, because marriage and the family are an irreplaceable good of society.»

In order to address this crisis, John Paul II urged the commitment of the Church in all states of life.

Above all, the Pope appealed to «spouses committed to the Church» to make efforts to study «the theology of marriage, to help young couples and families in difficulty to recognize better the value of their sacramental commitment and to receive the grace of the covenant they sealed as baptized persons.»

«Christian families must be the first to witness to the grandeur of conjugal and family life, founded on mutual love and fidelity,» the Pope added.

In the second place, John Paul II made an impassioned appeal to pastors: «support families, encourage family pastoral care in your dioceses, and promote movements and associations of marital spirituality.»

In particular, the Holy Father requested that the Church offer an «adequate preparation for those who prepare to enter the sacrament of marriage,» in which not only must the «anthropological aspects of human love» be taught but also «the basis for an authentic conjugal spirituality.»

This formation is indispensable today, he added, because general basic education «in many cases … does not correspond with greater formation in Christian life.»

In fact, «at times one sees not only grave religious ignorance in the young generations but, what is even sadder, a certain moral vacuum and a marked lack of the transcendent meaning of life,» the Holy Father lamented.

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