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Pope to married couples: Don’t be afraid of crises

Pope Francis greets newly married couple – newly-weds

© Antoine Mekary / ALETEIA

Pope Francis - general audience - Paul VI Hall - Vatican, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 11/08/21

It is a painful opportunity, but an opportunity nonetheless, says Pope to Retrouvaille marriage ministry.

A crisis might make you “wobble” a bit, but you can come out from it better than before. Thus, we shouldn’t be afraid of crises.

This was the consoling observation that Pope Francis made November 6 in an address to members of the Retrouvaille Association, which ministers to couples in extreme crisis.

A crisis “makes you feel unpleasant things at time, but one can emerge from a crisis, provided that you emerge better,” he said.

Retrouvaille began in 1977 as a French-language weekend for hurting marriages in the province of Quebec, Canada. It was adapted to English by the community in Toronto, and by 1991, was spreading around the world.

The program aims to provide help for couples who “live in the disappointment and pain of marriage problems,” providing a weekend setting for couples “to learn communication in marriage in a respectful manner.”

“No marriage is beyond hope,” the program assures.

Taking the crisis in hand

The Holy Father, in his address, noted the importance of help in order to come out of crises. “It is difficult to emerge from a crisis alone: we must always all come out of a crisis together. I like this,” he said.

“I identify with your experience, which invites us to consider crisis as an opportunity: yes, a painful opportunity, but an opportunity – in this case, an opportunity to make a qualitative leap in relationships,” the Pope said.

In the Exhortation Amoris laetitia there is a section devoted to family crises (cf. 232-238). And here I would like to immediately add another word: wounds. Because people’s crises cause wounds, they cause wounds to the heart and flesh.

“Wounds” is a key word for you, it is part of Retrouvaille’s daily vocabulary. It is part of your history: in fact, you are wounded couples who have gone through the crisis and have healed; and because of this you are able to help other wounded couples. You have not gone away, you did not walk away in the crisis – “this isn’t working, I am going back to my mother.” You took the crisis in hand and sought a solution.

Reading the Word

Pope Francis, who has often spoken about pastoral ministry for married couples, observed that those who have come through crises are a valuable resource.

Today there is a great need for people, for spouses who know how to bear witness to the fact that the crisis is not a curse, it is part of the journey, and it constitutes an opportunity. 

The Holy Father thanked the couples for another thing. He said that their juxtaposition of two Biblical texts – the Good Samaritan and the Risen Jesus – helped him “to see better the link between the Good Samaritan and the Risen Christ, and to see that this link passes through the wounds, the sores.”

Jesus has always been recognised in the character of the Good Samaritan, even in the writings of the Fathers of the Church. Your experience helps us to see that this Samaritan is the Risen Christ, who preserves the wounds in His glorious body and for this very reason – as the Letter to the Hebrews says (cf. 5:2) – He feels compassion for that wounded man abandoned by the roadside, for the wounds of us all.

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