By Courtney Mares
Pope Francis said Saturday that the Church suffers with couples who are in a “wounded marriage,” and seeks their healing in truth.
“The wounds of marriage today – we know – have many and varied causes: psychological, physical, environmental, cultural – at times they are provoked by the closing of the human heart to love, by the sin that touches everyone,” Pope Francis said Nov. 30 in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.
“This is why the Church, when she encounters these realities of wounded couples, first of all cries and suffers with them,” he said.
Pope Francis said that the Church first seeks to soothe and to heal, and then it “strives to be impartial and objective in seeking the truth of a broken marriage.”
The pope met with participants in a formation course on pastoral care for married couples in crisis taking in place Nov. 26-30 organized by the Roman Rota.
The Roman Rota is one of the three courts of the Holy See, along with the Apostolic Penitentiary and the Apostolic Signatura. Among the Rota’s primary responsibilities is considering appeals in marriage nullity, or annulment, cases.
Francis said that these situations cannot be treated with “a merely bureaucratic, almost mechanical approach,” but is “rather a question of entering into the lives of people who suffer.”
“For this reason, even in its canonical and jurisprudential procedures, the Church always seeks only the good of wounded people, seeks the truth of their love; she has nothing in mind but to support their just and desired happiness, which, before being a personal good to which we all humanly aspire, is a gift that God reserves for his children and which comes from Him,” he said.
He said that therefore every judge, witness, and all parties involved in a case of a wounded marriage “must always first of all entrust themselves to the Holy Spirit, so that, guided by Him, they may listen with just criterion, know how to examine, discern and judge.”
“And this is very important,” he added. “A process is not a mathematical thing, to simply see what reason weighs more than the other.”
“The Holy Spirit who must guide the process, always. If there is no Holy Spirit, what we do is not ecclesial,” he said.
Pope Francis said that it is important for couples to be properly prepared for the Sacrament of Marriage, so that the marriage of Christian spouses reflects the union of Christ with the Church, which he loves as a bride with unfailing love to the point of sacrificing himself on the cross.
He said couples should be prepared to become “missionary disciples as spouses” and “witnesses of the Gospel in family, work and social life, where the Lord calls them.”
“It is by looking at this horizon that engaged couples can grow, nourishing themselves with prayer, with the Eucharist and Reconciliation, with sincere concern for one another, with dedication to the brothers and sisters they meet,” he said.
“I encourage pastors, bishops and priests to promote, support and accompany this process, so that the Church may be renewed, increasingly becoming a widespread network of communities of witnessing and missionary families of the Gospel,” Pope Francis said.