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Pope encourages Catholic marriage group to “rescue” families

A bride leans her head on Pope Francis' shoulder during the weekly general audience on February 28, 2024 at Paul-VI hall in The Vatican.

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Isabella H. de Carvalho - I.Media - published on 05/07/24

Cherish your marriage "like a precious treasure" and help "each other to pass through each day [...] that gateway that is Christ," the Pope said to the Teams of Our Lady.

The success of a marriage does not depend solely on willpower, Pope Francis said to the international leaders of the Teams of Our Lady — a Catholic movement born in France aimed at helping marriages. Representatives of the movement gathered at the Vatican on May 4, 2024. In his speech, Pope Francis gave them some advice on how to protect the Catholic family in today’s society.

“The Christian family is going through a genuine ‘cultural storm’ in this changing era, and is threatened and tempted on various fronts,” the Pope said. “It is a true mission to accompany married couples today!”

Teams of Our Lady (called Équipes Notre-Dame in French), was founded in 1939 in Paris by Father Henri Caffarel, to provide spiritual support for married Christian couples. Today, this movement is made up of around 72,000 couples divided into 14,000 teams on every continent.

Include Christ in your marriage

“Today, it is thought that the success of a marriage depends only on the willpower of the couple. It does not,” Pope Francis insisted. “If that were so, it would be a burden, a yoke placed on the shoulders of two poor creatures.”

“Marriage, on the other hand, is a ‘passo a tre‘ [a dance with three people],” the Pope said. The success of it depends on “Christ’s presence” with the couple as that “makes the journey possible.” 

“The yoke is transformed into a game of glances: […] a glance between the bride and groom and Christ,” he explained. “It is a game that lasts a lifetime, which can be won together if one takes care of one’s relationship, if one cherishes it like a precious treasure, helping each other to pass through each day, even in married life, that gateway that is Christ.”

Be witnesses of love especially for young people

The Pontiff also asked the members to ensure families save “that witness of a love that is possible and forever, which young people struggle to believe in.”

“Indeed, children need to receive from their parents the certainty that God created them out of love, and that one day they too will be able to love and be loved as their mother and father did,” he emphasized. “Protecting marriage indeed means protecting an entire family.”

Pope Francis also emphasized the importance of setting an example for young people. “I see a great urgency today: to help young people to discover that Christian marriage is a vocation, a specific calling that God addresses to a man and a women so that they can fully realize themselves,”  he said. 

This Grace is the love of Christ united with that of the married couple, His presence between them, it is God’s fidelity to their love: it is He who gives them the strength to grow together every day and to remain united.

Pay special attention to newlyweds

The Pope also asked the members of the Teams of Our Lady to pay special attention to newlywed couples – “the youngest families” created in the Church. 

“Take care of them! […] In the first years of marriage, it is necessary above all to discover faith within the couple, to taste it, to savor it by learning to pray together,” the Pope encouraged. “Many people marry today without understanding how faith enters into their married life, perhaps because no-one bore witness to it before them prior to their marriage.”

On this topic he called his audience to help the newlyweds in a “‘catechumenal’ journey […] of rediscovery of the faith.”

In fact in June 2022 the Vatican published the document Catechumenal Pathways for Married Life with suggestions on how to encourage parishes and movements to accompany couples before and after their marriage. 

“You can be like flames that kindle other flames to faith, especially among the youngest couples: Do not let them accumulate sufferings and wounds in the solitude of their homes,” the Pope told the movement’s members. “Help them to discover the oxygen of faith gently, patiently, and trusting in the action of the Holy Spirit.” 

Priests and couples working together

Lastly, Pope Francis applauded the members of this movement, couples and priests alike, for having understood how to “live tangibly the complementarity of the two vocations” and the “importance of co-responsibility.” 

“This helps to overcome that clericalism that prevents the Church from being fruitful – beware of clericalism! – and this will also help married couples to discover that, with marriage, they are called to a mission,” the Pope said. “Indeed, they too have the gift and the responsibility of building the ecclesial community, alongside ordained ministers.” 

“Without Christian communities, families feel alone, and loneliness does a great deal of harm!” the Pope emphasized, while encouraging the Teams of Our Lady to become “rescuers” of families in difficult times. 

The Pontiff then concluded with a joke: “This time I will not say anything about mothers-in-law, because there are some here! I bless you from my heart. And I ask you to please pray for me.” 

FamilyMarriagePope FrancisVatican
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