VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The sacrament of marriage cannot be “improvised” but must be prepared for, nourished and supported during the couple’s journey, Pope Francis said.
Christian couples also must be helped to pursue their “particular vocation to become missionary disciples as spouses, witnesses of the Gospel in family life, at work, in society, wherever the Lord calls them,” he said. And they must be given space in parish ministries to fulfill that call.
The pope made his remarks Nov. 30 in a meeting with those enrolled in a course offered by the Roman Rota, the Vatican tribunal that hears requests for annulments. The course was on safeguarding marriage and the pastoral care of “wounded couples.”
“The church will never be able to go on its way, turning its head away” from those couples facing crisis, he said.
“The church, when it encounters the reality of wounded couples, cries and suffers with them,” the pope said. “It draws near to them with the oil of consolation to sooth and to heal. It wants to take upon itself all the pain it encounters.”
Helping those couples and dealing with their marriage cases can never be a merely impersonal and “bureaucratic” process, the pope said; rather, it involves “entering into” their lived experience and offering compassion.