VATICAN CITY – The future of the Church and the world is dependent on the good of the family, said Pope Francis in a video message Saturday.
“The love between a man and woman is one of the most generative human experiences, it is the ferment of the culture of encounter and brings to the present world an injection of sociality,” the pope said.
“The family born of marriage creates fruitful bonds, which reveal themselves to be the most effective antidote against the individualism that currently runs rampant.”
Quoting his 2016 apostolic exhortation, Amoris laetitia, he emphasized, “Indeed the good of the family is decisive for the future of the world and of the Church.”
The pope sent a video message to participants in the third international symposium on Amoris laetitia, organized by the Italian bishops’ conference. Taking place in Rome Nov. 11, the theme of the meeting was: “The Gospel of love between conscience and norm.”
Speaking about the role of the properly formed conscience, Francis warned against the temptation to turn to a sort of egoism or “cult of self.”
“The contemporary world risks confusing the primacy of conscience, which is always to be respected, with the exclusive autonomy of the individual in relation to the relationships he lives,” he said.
This is why, he said, there is a need to form consciences – not substitute them – and to accompany spouses and parents in learning to “apply the Gospel to the concreteness of life.”
In the reality of the family and of marital love, there may come situations which require “arduous choices,” he continued, and these should be made “with righteousness.” Therefore, divine grace, “which illuminates and strengthens married love and parental mission,” is absolutely necessary for spouses and the family.
Francis’s video message echoed his recent keynote address to a major conference on the future of the European Union, in which he spoke out against abortion and said the Christian understanding of the family can serve as a model on which the European continent can base its identity as it faces a changing and uncertain future.
In the family, “diversity is valued and at the same time brought into unity,” Francis said Oct. 28, explaining that the family “is the harmonious union of the differences between man and woman, which becomes stronger and more authentic to the extent that it is fruitful, capable of opening itself to life and to others.”