While acknowledging the never-before-seen challenges Christian families are facing, Pope Francis still offered hope by reminding faithful that the Church is always, regardless of difficulties, being internally renewed.
During a Saturday audience with more than 7,000 pilgrims belonging to the Schoenstatt Movement, the Holy Father admitted the “Christian family and marriage are under great attack” due to growing relativism over the concept of marriage. But, he reminded those gathered, we musn’t lose hope, reported Vatican Radio on Saturday.
Gathered in Rome this weekend to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its founding in Germany, Schoenstatt is an international Roman Catholic Marian movement and apostolic organization which embraces members, both lay and clerics, from dozens of nations around the world.
The Schoenstatt Movement was founded in Germany in 1914 by Father Joseph Kentenich who saw the movement as being a means of spiritual renewal in the Catholic Church.
In a dialogue with participants, the Holy Father responded to questions on how marriage and the Christian family is under attack, how to welcome those who feel excluded from the Church, and how the Church experiences “renewal.”
Turning to marriage, he noted that often there is a misunderstanding over the difference between the sacrament of marriage and the social rite.
“Marriage is forever,” Francis reminded those present, “but in our present society, there is a temporary or throwaway culture that has become widespread.”
In response to questions about marriage and what advice he can offer to those who do not feel welcome in the Church, the Pope underscored the need for priests to stay close to each one of “their flock” without becoming scandalized over what takes place within the family.
Giving an example, he recalled that during the recent Synod of Bishops on the Family, it was asked whether priests are aware of what children feel and the psychological damage caused when their parents separate.
In addition to calling on priests to stay near couples, he urged them to be there for children experiencing the trauma of family break-up.
Asked about reform of the Church, the Pope said people describe him as a revolutionary but went on to point out that the Church has always been that way and is constantly reforming itself.
Explaining this further, Francis stressed that the first revolution or way of renewing the Church is through inner holiness and that counts far more than more external ways such as reforming the Curia and the Vatican bank.
Pope Francis also spoke about the importance of having a freedom of spirit and warned against closing ourselves up in a mass of rules and regulations, thus becoming a caricature of the doctors of law.
On the same occasion, the Argentine Pontiff also warned about the devil, reminding faithful he exists and his first weapon is disunity.
Responding to how he maintains a sense of joy and hope despite the world’s many problems, the Holy Father replied that he uses prayer, trust, courage and daring.
“To dare is a grace,” Pope Francis stated, “and a prayer without courage or daring is a prayer that doesn’t work.”
On the NET:
Schoenstatt Movement International: http://www.schoenstatt.org/en/