Pope: Spousal Fidelity Has a Big Message in Divorce Culture

Says Children Learn of God Who Is Love by Seeing Parents' Love

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 8, 2011 (Zenit.org).- In today's society plagued with high divorce rates, spousal fidelity is itself a sign of the love of Christ, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope stated this today during the general audience in St. Peter's Square, during which he spoke about his trip last weekend to Croatia.

He noted how he used the trip to stress the importance of families.

"It was very important for me to confirm in the faith especially these families that the Second Vatican Council called 'domestic churches,'" he said. "Blessed John Paul II, who visited Croatia three times, placed great emphasis on the role of the family in the Church; thus, with this journey, I wanted to give continuity to this aspect of his teaching."

The German Pontiff said European nations that have a "strong Christian tradition" have a "special responsibility to defend and promote the value of the family founded on marriage, which remains decisive both within the field of education as well as in the social sphere."

The Pope was in Croatia for the First National Day of Croatian Catholic Families. At the Mass he celebrated for that event, the Pope said, he underscored the gift and importance of communion in the Church, and encouraged spouses in their mission.

"In our own day," he said, "while we unfortunately see an increase in separations and divorces, the fidelity of spouses has itself become a meaningful witness to the love of Christ, which permits marriage to be lived out for what it truly is: the union of one man and one woman who, with the grace of God, love one another and help one another for a lifetime, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health."

Growing up with God

The Bishop of Rome reflected on how education in the faith is rooted in the spousal covenant.

"Through [this covenant]," he said, "children learn without words that God is faithful, patient, respectful and generous love. Faith in the God who is Love is handed on first of all by the witness of a fidelity to spousal love, which translates naturally into love for the children who are the fruit of this union."

The Pope acknowledged that this faithfulness is not possible without God's grace, without the support of the faith and of the Holy Spirit.

"This is why the Virgin Mary unceasingly intercedes with her Son," he said, "so that -- as at the Wedding Feast of Cana -- he might continually renew spouses in the gift of the 'good wine;' that is, of Grace, which enables them to live as 'one flesh' through the various seasons and situations of life."

European vocation

Benedict XVI also spoke of how the Croatia trip pointed to "Europe's most profound vocation": "that of guarding and renewing a humanism rooted in Christianity that can be defined as 'catholic'; that is, universal and integral."

He said this humanism "places at its center man's conscience, his transcendent openness and, at the same time, his historic reality." It is a humanism "capable of inspiring diversified political projects that nonetheless converge for the building of a sound democratic system, founded upon the ethical values rooted in the same human nature."

The Pope further emphasized an urgent challenge he says is facing the people of the European continent. This challenge, he said, is to not be afraid of God -- "of the God of Jesus Christ, Who is Love and Truth, and Who takes nothing away from freedom but rather restores it to itself, giving it the horizon of a dependable hope."

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-32794?l=english