Pope Francis says "The family is the domestic Church...spouses and children are called to cooperate...through prayer and love...Jesus is present on this boat", the family boat." FULL TEXT

Clementina room
Friday, May 13, 2022
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and welcome!
I thank Father da Silva Gonçalves for the introductory words; I greet Cardinal Farrell, Archbishop Paglia and Archbishop Bordeyne, together with all those who collaborated for this Congress, and all of you who are participating. The initiative takes place as part of the "Famiglia Amoris Laetitia" Year, launched to stimulate understanding of the Apostolic Exhortation and help guide the pastoral practices of the Church, which wants to be more and better synodal and missionary.
Amoris Laetitia gathers the fruits of the two Synodal Assemblies on the family: the extraordinary one in 2014 and the Ordinary one in 2015. Fruits matured in listening to the People of God, which is made up largely of families, which are the first place to live faith in Jesus Christ and mutual love.
Therefore, it is good that moral theology draws from the rich spirituality that germinates in the family. The family is the domestic Church (cf. Lumen gentium, 11; Amoris laetitia, 67); in it, spouses and children are called to cooperate in living the mystery of Christ, through prayer and love carried out in the concreteness of everyday life and in situations, in mutual care capable of accompanying so that no one is excluded and abandoned. "Let us not forget that, through the sacrament of marriage, Jesus is present on this boat", the family boat. [1]
Family life, however, is today more tested than ever. First of all, for some time "the family has been going through a profound cultural crisis, like all communities and social ties" (Evangelii gaudium, 66). In addition, many families suffer from the lack of work, a decent home or a land where they can live in peace, in a time of great and rapid change. These difficulties affect family life, generate relationship problems. There are many "difficult situations and wounded families" (Amoris laetitia, 79). The very possibility of starting a family today is often difficult and young people find it very difficult to marry and have children. In fact, the epochal changes we are experiencing cause moral theology to take up the challenges of our time and to speak a language that is understandable to the interlocutors - not just “to the experts” -; and thus to help "overcome adversity and contrasts" and encourage "a new creativity to express in the current challenges the values ​​that constitute us as a people in society and in the Church, People of God". [2] I emphasize: new creativity.
In this regard, the family plays a decisive role today «in the paths of" pastoral conversion "of our communities and of" missionary transformation of the Church "». For this to happen, a theological reflection is necessary - "even at the academic level" - that is truly attentive "to the wounds of humanity". [3] In this sense it is important that the Gregorian University and the John Paul II Institute, together, have organized this event, with the participation of theologians and theologians from four continents. Lay people, clerics and religious, of different languages ​​and cultures, intervene and confront each other in a dialogue between the generations that is also open to young researchers.
In a special way, in this regard, I would like to recall the need for inter- and trans-disciplinarity, already within theology, as well as between theology, human sciences and philosophy. This method can only favor the deepening of theological reflections on marriage and the family. It will be possible to show the reciprocal link between ecclesiological and sacramental reflection and liturgical rites, between these and pastoral practices, between the great anthropological questions and the moral questions related to the conjugal covenant, generation and the complex network of family relationships. In fact, the different theological approaches should not simply be juxtaposed or juxtaposed, but made to dialogue so that they instruct each other, in a symphonic and choral way, at the service of the one great goal, summarized in this question: how Christian families can testify today , in the joy and efforts of conjugal, filial and fraternal love, the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
The Church, in its synodal journey, is built on mutual listening among those who make up the People of God. In this case, "how would it have been possible to speak about the family without asking the pains and their anguish? ». [4] Precisely for this reason a lively need for dialogue emerges: certainly not as a "mere tactical attitude", but as an "intrinsic need to have a community experience of the joy of Truth and to deepen its meaning and practical implications" (Veritatis gaudium, 4c ). The dialogic method asks us to overcome an abstract idea of ​​truth, detached from the experience of people, cultures, religions. The truth of Revelation is addressed in history - it is historical! - to its recipients, who are called to implement it in the "flesh" of their witness. How much wealth of good there is in the life of so many families, all over the world! The gift of the Gospel, in addition to the Giver, presupposes a recipient who must be taken seriously, must be listened to.
Marriage and the family can constitute a "kairos" for moral theology, to rethink the interpretative categories of moral experience in the light of what happens in the family environment. Between theology and pastoral action it is necessary to establish, again and again, a virtuous circularity. Pastoral practice cannot be deduced from abstract theological principles, just as theological reflection cannot limit itself to reiterating the practice. How often is marriage presented "as a burden to be borne throughout one's life" rather than "as a dynamic path of growth and fulfillment" (Amoris Laetitia, 37). This does not mean that evangelical morality renounces proclaiming the gift of God, from which the task and dedication arise. Theology has a critical function, of understanding the faith, but its reflection starts from living experience and from the sensus fidei fidelium. Only in this way does the theological intelligence of the faith carry out its necessary service to the Church.
And precisely for this reason the practice of discernment is more necessary than ever, opening the space "to the conscience of the faithful, who many times respond as best as possible to the Gospel in the midst of their limitations and can carry on their personal discernment in the face of situations in which breaks all schemes "(ibid.).
Dear brothers and sisters, at the center of our commitment, as pastors and as theologians, is the recognition of the inseparable relationship, despite the tragedies and hardships of life, between conscience and good. Evangelical morality is as far from moralism, which makes literal observance of the norms the guarantee of one's own justice before God, as from idealism, which, in the name of an ideal good, discourages and distances from the possible good (cf.Amoris laetitia, 308; Evangelii guadium, 44). At the center of Christian life is the grace of the Holy Spirit, received in the lived faith, which arouses acts of charity. The good, therefore, is an appeal, it is a "voice" [5] that frees and solicits consciences, as the text of Gaudium et spes says: "In the depths of his conscience, man discovers a law that is not he to give himself, but which he must obey instead. [...] Conscience is man's most secret nucleus and shrine, where he finds himself alone with God, whose voice resounds in his own intimacy "(n. 16).
All of you are asked today to rethink the categories of moral theology, in their mutual bond: the relationship between grace and freedom, between conscience, goodness, virtues, norm and Aristotelian phrónesis, thomist prudentia and the spiritual discernment, the relationship between nature and culture, between the plurality of languages ​​and the uniqueness of agape. On this last aspect, in particular, I would like to emphasize that the difference of cultures is a precious opportunity that helps us to understand even more how much the Gospel can enrich and purify the moral experience of humanity, in its cultural plurality.
In this way we will help families to rediscover the meaning of love, a word that today "often appears disfigured" (Amoris laetitia, 89): because love "is not just a feeling", but the choice in which each decides to " "To do good" [...] in a superabundant way, without measuring, without demanding rewards, for the sole pleasure of giving and serving "(ibid., 94). The concrete experience of families is an extraordinary school of good life. Therefore I invite you, theologians and moral theologians, to continue your work, rigorous and precious, with creative fidelity to the Gospel and to the experience of the men and women of our time, in particular to the living experience of believers. The sensus fidei fidelium, in the plurality of cultures, enriches the Church, so that today she may be the sign of God's mercy, who never tires of us. In this light, your reflections fit very well into the current synodal process: this International Conference is fully part of it and can make its own original contribution.
I would like to add one thing, which at this moment does so much harm to the Church: it is like a "going back", both out of fear, both for lack of genius, and for lack of courage. It is true that we theologians, including Christians, must go back to our roots, this is true. Without the roots we cannot take a step forward. We take inspiration from the roots, but to move forward. This is different from going back. Going back is not Christian. Indeed, I believe it is the author of the Letter to the Hebrews who says: "We are not people who go back". The Christian cannot go back. Going back to the roots, yes, to take inspiration, to continue. But to go back is to go back to have a defense, a security that avoids the risk of moving forward, the Christian risk of carrying faith, the Christian risk of making the journey with Jesus Christ. And this is a risk. Today, this turning back is seen in many ecclesiastical figures - not ecclesial, ecclesiastical - who arise like mushrooms, here, there, there, and present themselves as proposals for Christian life. In moral theology there is also a going back with casuistic proposals, and the casuistry that I believed buried under seven meters, rises again as a proposal - a little disguised - of "up to here it is possible, up to here it is not possible, from here yes, from here no ". And reducing moral theology to casuistry is the sin of going back. The casuistry has been overcome. Casuistry has been my and my generation's food in the study of moral theology. But it is proper to decadent Thomism. The true Thomism is that of Amoris laetitia, the one that takes place there, explained well in the Synod and accepted by all. It is the living doctrine of St. Thomas, which makes us go forward by taking risks, but in obedience. And this is not easy. Please beware of this going back which is a current temptation, even for you theologians of moral theology.
May the joy of love, which finds exemplary witness in the family, become the effective sign of the joy of God who is mercy and of the joy of those who receive this mercy as a gift! Joy. Thank you, and please don't forget to pray for me, I need it! Thanks.
[1] Letter to the spouses on the occasion of the "Amoris laetitia" Family Year (December 26, 2021).
[2] Ibid ..
[3] Lett. Ap. Motu Proprio “Summa familiae cura” which establishes the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for the Sciences of Marriage and the Family (19 September 2017).
[4] Speech on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Synod of Bishops (October 17, 2015).
[5] "May your conscience bear witness to you, which is the voice of God" (St. Augustine, In Epistolam Ioannis ad Parthos tractatus, 6, 3)