Pope Francis on Wednesday said that contrary to modern notions, fidelity in marriage does not rob us of personal freedom but instead is a fundamental attribute of all human relationships based on love.
“Freedom and fidelity are not opposed to each other,” the Pope said in his latest catechesis on the family, delivered during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square Oct 21.
The strength and beauty of love, including in the context of friendship, come from the fact that the persons involved are connected without loss of freedom, he said.
“Without freedom there is no friendship; without freedom, there is no love; without freedom, there is no marriage.”
Pope Francis observed that the sense of “honor” in being faithful appears to be undermined in modern times. He attributed this to the “misunderstood right to seek ones own satisfaction at all costs and in any relationship, which is exulted as a non-negotiable principle of freedom.”
Rather, he said, “Fidelity to promises is a true masterpiece of humanity! No loving relationship – no friendship, no form of love, no happiness in the common good – arrives at the height of our desire and hope” without “this miracle of the soul.”
The Pope also appealed for prayers for the bishops participating in the Synod on the Family, which is in its third and final week in the Vatican.
“May the Lord bless their work, conducted with faithful creativity,” with faith that the “Lord is faithful to his promises,” he said.
This year’s Synod on the Family, which runs from Oct. 4-25, is the second and larger of two such gatherings to take place in the course of a year. Like its 2014 precursor, the focus of the 2015 Synod of Bishops will be the family, this time with the theme: “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the modern world.”
In his Oct. 21 address, Pope Francis recalled how last week’s catechesis on the family centered on the importance of promises parents make to their children, whereas this week’s reflection centers on man and woman’s fidelity to each other.
The entire family is founded upon a promise, the Pope said. The fidelity between husband and wife brings with it the responsibility to love and educate children, to care for elderly parents, and to protect and care for the “weakest members of the family.”
“The marital promise broadens to share the joys and sufferings with all fathers, mothers, and children, with generous openness toward human coexistence and the common good.”
In contrast, the Pope said, “a family that is closed in on itself,” is a “contradiction” of that same promise.
Fidelity is a self-fulfilling promise, a faith which “wants to be truly shared, and a hope which wants to be nurtured together.”
Honor and fidelity “cannot be bought or sold,” he said.
“No other school can teach the school of love if the family cannot. No law can impose the beauty and heritage of this treasure of human dignity, if the personal connection between love and generation is not written on our flesh.”
Pope Francis appealed for fidelity in love to be seen as honorable in society once again.
“This principle of fidelity to the promise of love and generations is written in God’s creation as a perennial blessing, which is entrusted to the world.”
The Pope reflected on the family in the context of Saint Paul’s words on the union between Christ and his Church.
“Love for the human family, in good times and bad, is a point of honor for the Church!”
By Ann Schneible