The 32 Chilean bishops, on their visit "ad limina" to Rome, published a document Sunday urging that "any future legislation on civil marriage recognize the definitive character that matrimonial union has" for the man and woman involved, "especially those who are united by the sacramental bond."
The Chilean Parliament is now debating whether to legalize divorce.
When meeting with the bishops today, the Pope said: "I know and appreciate all you are doing in favor of the family, which faces so many difficulties of different kinds and is exposed to snares that attack essential aspects of God's plan, such as the indissoluble character of marriage."
"These efforts, which are a precious service to your homeland, must be also be accompanied by an integral program of family pastoral care, which includes the adequate preparation" of the couple "before marriage, and assist them later, especially when difficulties appear, guiding them in the education of their children," the Pope added.
"In this aspect, nothing can replace a real culture of life, a profound experience of fidelity, and a deep-rooted spirit of selflessness, with which the Word of God and the ecclesial magisterium especially enlighten human existence," he said.
"To evangelize families is to show the spouses the boundless love of Christ for his Church, whom they are to reflect in this world," the Holy Father continued.
"The vocation to holiness," he stressed, "to which we are called, must also be inculcated in its members, without fear of proposing high ideals which, although at times might seem difficult to attain, are the ones that respond to the divine plan of salvation."