ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO OFFICIALS AND LAWYERS OF THE RIVI ROMANA TRIBUNAL,
FOR THE INAUGURATION OF THE JUDICIAL YEAR
Tuesday, 29 January 2019
Dear Prelate Auditors,
I address my cordial greetings to each of you, beginning with the Dean, whom I thank for his words. I greet those who take part in this meeting: the Officials, the Lawyers and the other collaborators of the Apostolic Tribunal of the Roman Rota. I would like to formulate sincere wishes for the Judicial Year that we are inaugurating today.
The society in which we live is increasingly secularized, and does not favor the growth of the faith, with the consequence that the Catholic faithful find it hard to witness a lifestyle according to the Gospel, including the Sacrament of Marriage. In this context, it is necessary that the Church, in all its articulations, act in harmony to provide adequate spiritual and pastoral support. In the daily ministry at the service of Christian marriage, you experience two fundamental cornerstones not only of theology and canonical matrimonial law, but also and even before the very essence of the Church of Christ: unity and fidelity. Indeed, these two marital property, before being, in fact, to be the juridical obligations of every conjugal union in Christ, must be epiphany of the baptismal faith.
For it to be validly contracted, marriage requires that one establishes in each of the nubendi a full unity and harmony with the other, so that, through the mutual exchange of the respective human, moral and spiritual riches - almost by way of communicating vessels - the two spouses become one thing. Marriage also requires a commitment of fidelity, which absorbs all life, becoming permanently consortium totius vitae (can.1135).
Unity and fidelity are two important and necessary values not only between spouses, but generally in interpersonal and social relationships. We are all aware of the drawbacks that determine, in the civil consortium, the unfulfilled promises, the lack of fidelity to the word given and to the commitments undertaken.
Unity and fidelity. These two indispensable and constitutive assets of marriage require not only to be adequately illustrated to the future spouses, but also call for the pastoral action of the Church, especially of the bishops and priests, to accompany the family in the various stages of its formation and development. . This pastoral action naturally can not be limited to the completion of the practices, although necessary and to be carried out with care. We need a triple preparation for marriage: remote, near and permanent. The latter is good for understanding the different stages of married life in a serious and structural way, through careful training aimed at increasing the awareness of the values and commitments of their vocation in the spouses.
The main subjects of this marriage formation, by virtue of their office and ministry, are the pastors; nevertheless, it is more opportune, indeed, necessary to involve the ecclesial communities in their different components, who are co-responsible for this pastoral care under the guidance of the diocesan Bishop and the parish priest. The obligation is therefore in solidum, with primary responsibility of the pastors and the active participation of the community in promoting marriage and accompanying families with spiritual and formative support.
To understand this pastoral need, it will be good to consider, in the Scriptures, the experience of the spouses Aquila and Priscilla. They were among the most faithful companions of the mission of St. Paul, who calls them with grateful affection his sinergoi, that is collaborators in full of the anxiety and the work of the Apostle. We are struck and moved by this high recognition by Paul towards the missionary work of these spouses; and at the same time we can recognize how this synergy was a precious gift of the Spirit to the first Christian communities. We therefore ask the Holy Spirit to give today to the Church priests who are able to appreciate and value the charisms of the spouses with a strong faith and apostolic spirit such as Aquila and Priscilla.
The constant and permanent pastoral care of the Church for the good of marriage and of the family requires to be realized through the various pastoral means: the approach to the Word of God, especially through the lectio divina; catechetical meetings; involvement in the celebration of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist; the conversation and the spiritual direction; participation in family groups and charitable service, to develop the comparison with other families and openness to the needs of the most disadvantaged.
On the other hand, the spouses who live their marriage in generous unity and with faithful love, supporting each other with the grace of the Lord and with the necessary support of the ecclesial community, represent in turn a precious pastoral help to the Church. In fact, they offer everyone an example of true love and become witnesses and cooperators of the fruitfulness of the Church itself. Really many Christian spouses are a silent sermon for everyone, a "weekday" sermon I would say, everyday, and we must unfortunately see that a couple who has lived together for so many years does not make news - this is sad -, while scandals are making headlines , separations, divorces ... (see Homily at S. Marta, Friday 18 May 2018).
The spouses who live in unity and in fidelity reflect well the image and likeness of God. This is the good news: that fidelity is possible, because it is a gift, in spouses as in presbyters. This is the news that should also make the faithful and full ministry of evangelical love of bishops and priests stronger and more consoling; how the love and marital fidelity of the spouses Aquila and Priscilla were comforting for Paul and Apollo.
Dear Prelate Auditors, I renew my gratitude to each one for the good you do to the people of God, serving justice through your sentences. Besides the importance of the judgment in itself for the interested parties, they contribute to correctly interpreting matrimonial law. This right is placed at the service of the salus animarum and the faith of the spouses. Therefore, we understand the punctual reference of the Rotal sentences to the principles of Catholic doctrine, as regards the natural idea of marriage, with relative obligations and rights, and even more as regards its sacramental reality.
Thank you very much for your work! I invoke divine assistance on it and I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you. And please, do not forget to pray for me. Thank you!