Mercy, love can heal wounded marriages, pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Claudio Peri, EPA

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — God wants couples to live out their marriage
faithfully and not abandon hope when things go awry, Pope Francis said.

“A love with mutual self-giving
sustained by Christ’s
grace” is what allows couples to remain united in marriage, the pope said
Oct. 7 during his Sunday Angelus address.

But “if
individual interests — one’s own satisfaction — prevail in spouses, then
their union will not endure,” he said.

The pope reflected on the Sunday Gospel reading from St.
Mark, in which the Pharisees test Jesus by asking him if it is “lawful for
a husband to divorce his wife.”

“What God has joined together, no human being must
separate,” Jesus replied to them.

Jesus’ teaching, the pope explained, is “very clear and
defends the dignity of marriage” as a union between man and woman
“that implies fidelity.”

Nevertheless, the Gospel story also realistically recognizes
that couples called to “live the experience of relationship and love can
painfully do things
that put it in crisis,” he said.

While Jesus doesn’t set out to label “everything that
leads to the failure of a relationship,” the pope said, he takes the opportunity to confirm
God’s plan “where the strength and beauty of the human relationship stand

“On the one hand, the church does not tire of
confirming the beauty of the family as given to us by Scripture and tradition,”
he said. “But at the same time, she makes an effort to make her maternal
closeness felt by those who live the experience of relationships that are
broken or carried out in a painful and tiring way.”

Pope Francis said that when faced with couples in troubled
marriages, the church is called to be present with love, charity and mercy to “lead
wounded and lost hearts back to God.”

“God’s way of acting with his unfaithful people — that
is, with us — teaches us that wounded love can be healed by God through mercy
and forgiveness,” the pope said.

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