Benedict XVI speaks of the “profound crisis” of marriage as a “crisis in faith”

His Holiness addressed the crisis of marriage as a crisis in faith in his sermon to open the Synod of Bishops and to proclaim St. Hildegard of Bingen and St. John of Avila as Doctors of the Church.  The Synod is to focus on The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith as the Year of Faith also begins on 11 October.

Let’s look at what the Pope said about marriage with my emphases and comments:


The theme of marriage, found in the Gospel and the first reading, deserves special attention. The message of the word of God may be summed up in the expression found in the Book of Genesis and taken up by Jesus himself: “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gen 2:24; Mk 10:7-8). What does this word say to us today? It seems to me that it invites us to be more aware of a reality, already well known but not fully appreciated: that matrimony is a Gospel in itself, a Good News for the world of today, especially the dechristianized world. The union of a man and a woman, their becoming “one flesh” in charity, in fruitful and indissoluble love, is a sign that speaks of God with a force and an eloquence which in our days has become greater because unfortunately, for various reasons, marriage, in precisely the oldest regions evangelized, is going through a profound crisis. And it is not by chance. [Which suggests also intelligent planning, diabolical activity.] Marriage is linked to faith, but not in a general way. Marriage, as a union of faithful and indissoluble love, is based upon the grace that comes from the triune God, who in Christ loved us with a faithful love, even to the Cross. Today we ought to grasp the full truth of this statement, in contrast to the painful reality of many marriages which, unhappily, end badly. There is a clear link between the crisis in faith and the crisis in marriage. And, as the Church has said and witnessed for a long time now, marriage is called to be not only an object but a subject of the new evangelization. …

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  1. DisturbedMary says:

    How gracefully Holy Father brings marriage to the heart of the Year of Faith.

  2. jkm210 says:

    I think this thought has occurred to our bishop here in Altoona, PA. We’re having a year-long marriage-building initiative in the diocese.

    I am 30 years old, so I’ve known a number of people who have gotten married in the past 5-7 years. It is amazing how many of them are already divorced. I feel like if, God-willing, my husband and I make it to a special diocesan anniversary Mass when we make it to our 25th anniversary, we’ll probably be the youngest couple there.

  3. The Sicilian Woman says:

    Our pastor gave a fantastic homily on marriage and divorce this weekend. He said that whenever he’s preached on the subject before, 99% of the responses have been indignant: “But Father, you’re a celibate priest. What do YOU know about marriage?”

    His comprehensive response was wonderful, and worth remembering should ever I be questioned why I, as a Catholic, look to the Church as authority:

    -Father said that he was a child of divorce, and he had at least 10 divorces in his close family.
    -He’s been in the confessional for 15 years. (“I know a lot about marriage.”)
    -My favorite: Jesus was a celibate man. He revealed God’s laws regarding marriage. (In fact, that was the Gospel reading this weekend.) Would you be willing to tell Jesus he doesn’t know anything about marriage? End game.

    He also tied marital crisis back to Adam and Eve; I hadn’t thought about the connection. But he made it very clear that that two do, indeed, become one flesh, and that marriage is till death do the husband and wife part.

  4. rcg says:

    This is going to need a lot of prayer. I wondered how this homily would go as so many of the choir and ministers in our parish are openly gay, even with protest stickers on their cars about religion and sex being separate. The homily was about loving everyone regardless of differences and not judging. No hard choices being made.

    Here is what I see in the local parishes: the pastors have gone native. I can only speculate as to why, perhaps to keep enrollment and donations up? But they waffle on this point pretty badly.

  5. DisturbedMary says:

    So appreciate what The Sicilian Woman had to say about her pastor’s sermon. Despite the Reading and the Gospel, despite the culture, the legal battles, the ballot initiatives, the torn garments, the mounting divorces, the lossof faith and on and on, no mention was made of marriage and divorce at Mass yesterday.

  6. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Thank you for this!

    What is the distinction between “charity” and “love” in the fourth sentence, and the use of “love” thereafter – even in “the grace that comes from the triune God, who in Christ loved us with a faithful love, even to the Cross”?

    What, for example, is he, or is he not, saying about ‘romantic love’ or ‘love’ as ‘willing the good of another’? (Historically, Christian marriage has not been simply, or even always primarily, a matter of ‘romantic love’, but should always have been – and be – a matter of willing the spouse’s good.)

    With respect to ” ‘they become one flesh’ (Gen 2:24; Mk 10:7-8)”, where does, or does not, St. Paul’s “unum corpore” and “carne una” (1 Cor.6:16) – with an apparent terrible gravity, and, presumably, responsibility, but no implication of substantial willing the other’s good or indissolubility or fidelity, require attention?

    Splendid is “the triune God, who in Christ loved us with a faithful love, even to the Cross”, with its rich “in” (is there a friendly nod to the Council of Constantinople (1156), here?).

  7. JonPatrick says:

    We were in Maine last week where the battle for so-called “same sex marriage” is waging. At the EF Mass at the Basilica in Lewiston, Father gave a strong sermon supporting traditional marriage. One point struck me in particular, that the “same sex marriage” movement came about because traditional marriage itself has been weakened, because it has become all about what we want rather than what is good for society, such as the nurturing of children.

  8. Random Friar says:

    The vocations crisis is not limited to the religious vocations at all. There is a real and true vocations crisis in Marriage, and we need to start helping it. Stronger marriages will also help make for stronger and more religious vocations. (Not saying weak/bad marriage will mean a weak vocation, but that I know many religious, and a bad family situation is something extra that brings extra issues, in my experience. OTOH, they know full well of the danger marriage is in.)

    Marriage Encounter and Retrouvaille are excellent resources in general for troubled marriages. And, even before then, I make sure to prep my couples getting ready for Holy Matrimony. No one is going to be able to plead ignorance to a marriage tribunal, saying that a couple I wedded did not know what they were getting into.

  9. SKAY says:

    The former Archbishop of Canterbury is speaking out against gay marriage.

  10. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Not long after reading this, I read something about the history of the Feast of the Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary – which makes me wonder if Lux Veritatis (esp. 49-51) is not consciously in the background of these words spoken not long before the 80th anniversary of that Feast as universal/general.

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