This article is cross-posted at erlc.com
Pope Francis began the Humanum Colloquium on the complementarity of man and woman in marriage by stating that “this complementarity is at the root of marriage and family.” Throughout the message, he was clear about the necessity and value of marriage despite progressive “ideological notions” on the family in our day.
“Pope Francis made clear that male/female complementarity is essential to marriage, and that this cannot be redefined by ideology or by the state,” said Russell Moore. “I am glad to hear such a strong statement on this, and on how an eclipse of marriage hurts the poor and the vulnerable.”
In a brief address to 300 people representing a variety of world religions affirming male-female marriage, Pope Francis reflected on the value of marriage for couples and for society. “I am grateful for the colloquium because of the benefits that marriage can supply to children and society,” he said. Marriage provides “unique, natural, and fundamental good for families, humanity, and societies.”
Pope Francis acknowledged that “marriage and family are in crisis” as the culture is “giving up on marriage as a public commitment.” The “decline of marriage culture is associated with increased poverty and a host of social ills” and has “brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.” He noted it is “women, children, and the elderly” who “suffer the most in crisis.”
Because of the collapse of marriage in culture, it is necessary to foster a “new human ecology” that renews the value of marriage between one man and one woman. This renewal of marriage must include a “permanent commitment to solidarity, fidelity and fruitful love” that “responds to the deepest longings of the human heart.”
He reflected on the value of marriage for social and family stability. “The crisis in the family has produced an ecological crisis, for social environments, like natural environments, need protection,” Pope Francis stated. “Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity.”
Pope Francis also expressed concern about the state of marriage among younger generations. “I urge you to bear in mind especially the young people, who represent our future,” he said. “Commit yourselves, so that our youth do not give themselves over to the poisonous environment of the temporary, but rather be revolutionaries with the courage to seek true and lasting love, going against the common pattern.”
Pope Francis noted that, though marriage is designed to be between one man and one woman, every marriage will be unique as the couple pursues “the key word: harmony.” He noted, “Complementarity will take many forms as each man or woman brings distinctive gifts and personal richness.” This complementarity is “not just good but also beautiful.”
“Humanum: The Complementarity of Man and Woman” is a three day international religious colloquium hosted at Vatican City, gathering together 300 leaders from major world religions.