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Pope: We need spouses beside priests for ministry to families

POPE FRANCIS GENERAL AUDIENCE

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA | I.MEDIA

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 06/11/21

As Aquila and Priscilla helped St. Paul, clergy have to call on the expertise and specific mission of families

Pope Francis says that priests and bishops must call on the expertise and mission of married couples and families, just as the spouses Aquila and Priscilla were valuable collaborators for St. Paul.

“To bring God’s love to families and young people, who will build the families of tomorrow, we need the help of the families themselves, their concrete experience of life and communion,” the Pope said in a video message to a forum dedicated to looking at the implementation of Amoris Laetitia five years after its publication.

Amoris Laetitia is the Holy Father’s document that followed upon two synods of bishops on the family.

“We need spouses alongside the pastors, to walk with other families, to help those who are weaker, to announce that, even in difficulties, Christ is present in the Sacrament of Marriage to give tenderness, patience, and hope to all, in every situation of life,” Pope Francis insisted.

Young people

In a time of declining marriages, the Pope said that youth must witness the love of spouses.

How important it is for young people to see with their own eyes the love of Christ alive and present in the love of spouses, who testify with their real lives that love for ever is possible!

And he noted that this collaboration between married couples and clergy was an integral part of the evangelization efforts of the early Church, as we see in the Bible.

Just as the spouses Aquila and Priscilla were valuable collaborators of Saint Paul in his mission, so too today many married couples, and even entire families with children, can become valid witnesses to accompany other families, create community, and sow seeds of communion among the peoples receiving the first evangelisation, contributing in a decisive way to the proclamation of the kerygma.

Special mission

Perhaps many tend to think of sharing the Gospel as a task primarily suited for priests and religious, but Pope Francis said that married people, like priests, have a particular mission to evangelize.

He said:

Marriage, like the priesthood, “serves to build up the People of God” and confers a special mission to spouses in the edification of the Church. The family is a “domestic Church,” the place in which the sacramental presence of Christ acts between spouses and between parents and children. …

Co-responsibility for the mission therefore calls upon married couples and ordained ministers, especially bishops, to cooperate in a fruitful manner in the care and custody of the domestic Churches. Therefore, we pastors must let ourselves be enlightened by the Spirit, so that this salvific proclamation may be realized by married couples who are often there, ready, but not called upon.

If, on the other hand, we call to them, we call them to work with us, if we give them space, they can make their contribution to the construction of the ecclesial fabric.

Complementarity

Pope Francis compared the complementarity in the roles of male and female to the complementarity that should be found between married couples and clergy.

Just as the warp and the weft of the masculine and feminine, in their complementarity, combine to make up the tapestry of the family, so too the sacraments of Holy Orders and marriage are both indispensable to building up the Church as a “family of families.”

In this way we will be able to have a pastoral care of families in which one breathes fully the spirit of ecclesial communion. Indeed, this is “likened to an ‘organic’ communion, analogous to that of a living and functioning body … characterised by a diversity and a complementarity of vocations and states in life.”

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FamilyPope Francis
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