Pope Francis Hears Couple on 60th Anniversary say "We love each other" and says "This was the best, the most beautiful theology on the family that I have seen." FULL TEXT to Pontifical Institute of Marriage and Family

Clementina room
Monday, October 24, 2022
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and welcome!
I am pleased to meet you who form the academic community of the John Paul II Theological Institute for the sciences of marriage and the family. I thank Mons. Vincenzo Paglia - I believe the Nobel Prize for creativity! - Your Grand Chancellor, for the words he addressed to me. I greet the Dean, Msgr. Philippe Bordeyne, the Vice-Deans of the extra-urban sections, the most illustrious professors and all of you, dear students, together with the couples who have started the permanent training course at the Institute. Your international representation highlights the breadth and richness of the network that belongs to the Institute; it represents a resource for the Church and for society.

Five years have passed since, with the Motu proprio Summa familiae cura, I wanted to "invest" in this legacy left by Saint John Paul II, who founded the Institute in 1981. I intended to give it a new vigor and a broader development, to respond to the challenges that arise at the beginning of the third millennium. This hoped-for development - guaranteed by the academic quality in the theological disciplines and in the human and social sciences - I feel is particularly important, because it integrates the skills necessary to discern the relational values ​​proper to the family constellation. Theology itself, in order to live up to this expansion, is called to elaborate a Christian vision of parenthood, filiality, fraternity - not only therefore of the conjugal bond -, which corresponds to the family experience, within the horizon of the whole human and Christian community. Even the culture of the grandparents, which is very important. The culture of faith, in fact, is called to measure itself, without naivety and without subjection, with the transformations that mark the current awareness of the relationships between man and woman, between love and generation, between family and community.
I appreciate and encourage your commitment to carry out with coherence and creativity the magisterial project that inspires his legacy and its updating. It is a commitment that, day by day, fills the title of "pontifical" attributed to the Institute with content, to be understood in its significance, that is, serving the Church in the wake of the ministry of Peter is the gift it receives and, at the same time , transmits. For this reason, anyone who reads his renewed link with the living magisterium in terms of opposition to the mission received with his original institution would be seriously mistaken. In reality, the seed grows and produces flowers and fruit. If the seed doesn't grow, it stays there as a museum piece, but it doesn't grow.
The mission of the Church urgently urges the integration of the theology of the conjugal bond with a more concrete theology of the family condition. The unprecedented turbulence, which in this time test all family ties, requires careful discernment to grasp the signs of God's wisdom and mercy. We are not prophets of misfortune, but of hope. Therefore, in considering the reasons for the crisis, we will never lose sight of the consoling, sometimes touching signs of the capacities that family ties continue to show: in favor of the community of faith, of civil society, of human coexistence. We have all seen how precious, in moments of vulnerability and constraint, the tenacity, the resistance, the collaboration of family ties.
The family remains an irreplaceable "anthropological grammar" of fundamental human affections. The strength of all the bonds of solidarity and love learns its secrets there, in the family. When this grammar is neglected or upset, the entire order of human and social relations suffers its wounds. And sometimes they are deep, very deep wounds.
For example: does not social volunteering perhaps draw from these generative and fraternal bonds of love the symbols and modalities of its best relationships? Doesn't the protection of the defenseless have its roots in caring for the begotten? Fraternity is not an easy experience, of course, but is there a better way than being born as brothers and sisters to come to understand the meaning of being - all and all - equally human?
Here, brothers and sisters, what are the frontiers of the challenge that urges us to take up again the thread of the irradiation of all the components of family love - not just that of the couple - for the whole of society. The quality of marriage and the family decides the quality of the love of the single person and of the bonds of the human community itself. It is therefore the responsibility of both the State and the Church to listen to families, in view of an affectionate, supportive, effective proximity: that it supports them in the work they already do for all, encouraging their vocation for a more human world, that is, more solidarity and more fraternal. We must guard the family but not imprison it, make it grow as it should grow. Pay attention to the ideologies that interfere to explain the family from an ideological point of view. The family is not an ideology, it is a reality. And a family grows with the vitality of reality. But when ideologies come to explain or paint the family what happens and everything is destroyed. There is a family that has this grace of man and woman who love and create each other, and to understand the family we must always go to the concrete, not to ideologies. Ideologies ruin, ideologies get involved to make a road of destruction. Beware of ideologies!
We don't have to wait for the family to be perfect to take care of their vocation and encourage their mission. Marriage and family will always have imperfections until we are in Heaven. To the newlyweds I always say: if you want, argue, whatever you want, but as long as you make peace before the day is over. This ability to "make up" that the family has in the face of difficulties is a grace, because if it does not make up for it, the “cold war” of the next day is dangerous. Yet, we hand over our own imperfection to the Lord, because drawing from the grace of the sacrament a blessing for the creature entrusted with the transmission of the meaning of life - not just physical life - is God's "possible".
Much, in this society full of cracks, depends on the rediscovered joy of the family adventure inspired by God. For thirty years the incarnation of the Only Begotten Son consisted in living and taking root within the family and community ties of his human condition. It was not a simple time of "waiting", it was a time of "understanding" with the most common human condition, inhabited with the gaze fixed on the "things of the Father" (cf. Lk 2:49). I want to tell you about an experience I had in [St. Peter's] square, when I was saluting in the square before the pandemic. One couple, they looked young - 60 years of marriage! - yes, they were young, because she was 18 then and he was 20, and I said: “Don't you get bored after so many years? You look fine?". They looked at each other, I stood still, and then they turned around, crying: "We love each other". It was the answer after 60 years. This was the best, the most beautiful theology on the family that I have seen.
May the Lord accompany the passion of your faith and the rigor of your intelligence, in the formidable task of supporting, caring for, cheering - yes, also cheering - this creatural and ecclesial blessing which is the family. I am happy to know and perceive that you are dedicating yourselves to this commitment also through the maturation of a family atmosphere and a synodal spirit of the academic community itself. May the Mother of the Lord, who more than any of us is an expert in this link between the saving mystery of the new creature and the family condition of human affections, accompany you and keep you. I cordially bless you, and as usual - because the Pope is a beggar - I ask you to please pray for me. Thank you!