Pope Francis: Casuistic Thought Is A Trap Against God and Us

Reflects on the Beauty of Love, Marriage and the Family During Homily

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The use of unsound reasoning to answer moral questions, or casuistry, is a trap against us and God. Pope Francis stressed this during his homily at Casa Santa Marta this morning.

The Holy Father reflected on the nature of marriage, drawing from today’s Gospel from St. Mark which recalled Christ’s response to the Pharisees on the question of divorce. The Pharisees, he said, tried to take Jesus moral authority through the use of casuistry. “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” the Pharisees asked Jesus. Behind the casuistic thought of the Pharisees, “there is always a trap.”

“Jesus responded, asking them what the law said and explaining why Moses made that law that way,” the Pope explained. “But he doesn’t stop there: from casuistry He goes to the center of the problem and here he goes directly to the days of Creation.”

“This reference of the Lord is very beautiful: ‘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. So they are no longer two but one flesh.”

The Pope went on to say that Christ refers to the “masterpiece of Creation”: man and woman. Describing between Adam and Eve as a “poetic moment”, the Holy Father said that Jesus confronts this casuistic thought with the initial plan of love by God.

“The Lord takes this love as the masterpiece of Creation to explain the love He has for his people,” the Holy Father said. “And [He goes] a step further: when Paul must explain the mystery of Christ, he does it in relation to, in reference to His Spouse, because Christ is married, Christ was married, He married the Church, his people.”

“Like the Father married the People of Israel, Christ married his people. This is the history of love, this is the history of the masterpiece of Creation! And in front of this journey of love, this icon, casuistry falls and becomes sorrow.”

When love fails between a man and woman, the Pope stressed the importance of accompanying those who suffer, not condemn them or “not be casuistic with their situation.”

In looking at God’s original plan of love, the Holy Father stressed that one begins to see the beauty of marriage, the beauty of family. This view should also bring us to come closer to “the brothers and sisters who in life have had the misfortune of a failure in love.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to be attentive that love does not fail by recalling the image of the love of Christ to his spouse: the Church.

“Even here we should be attentive that love does not fail! To speak of a bachelor Christ: Christ married the Church!” he exclaimed. “And Christ cannot be understood without the Church and the Church cannot be understood without Christ. This is the great mystery of the masterpiece of Creation. May the Lord give us all the grace to understand and also the grace to never fall in this casuistic attitude of the Pharisees, of the doctors of the law.” (J.A.E.)

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