Pope Benedict XVI, in a speech before the members of the Church’s highest court, the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, focused on the relationship between faith and marriage. The Holy Father observed that the world’s current crisis of faith brings with it a crisis in the understanding and experience of marriage. He highlighted the growing acceptance of instability in relationships.
Contemporary culture “poses serious challenges to the person and the family,” he began, underscoring that it calls into question “the very capacity of human beings to bond themselves to another and whether a union that lasts an entire life is truly possible.”
Modern culture, Pope Benedict XVI said, promotes the idea that people can “become themselves while remaining ‘autonomous,’” leading to the “widespread mentality” that relationships “can be interrupted at any time.” Rejecting the divine proposal, he explained, leads to a profound imbalance in all human relationships, including in marriage. It also “facilitates an erroneous understanding of freedom and self-realization” that operates under the belief one can flourish while remaining autonomous in a relationship, he said.
“Contemporary culture, marked by a strong subjectivism and an ethical and religious relativism, poses serious challenges to the person and the family,” the Pope told the judges. On the other hand, he said, accepting faith makes humans capable of giving themselves, allowing them to discover the extent of being a human person.
Pope Benedict then reflected on how “a human being’s choice to bind themselves with a bond lasting an entire life influences each person’s basic perspective according to which they are either anchored to a merely human plane or open themselves to the light of faith in the Lord.”
Divorced or abandoned spouses were also not far from the Pope’s mind as he spoke to the Tribunal.
“Being well aware that the valid marriage bond is indissoluble and refraining from becoming involved in a new union, in such cases their example of fidelity and Christian consistency takes on particular value as a witness before the world and the Church,” he remarked.
The Pope asserted that “faith is important in carrying out the authentic conjugal good, which consists simply in wanting always and in every case the welfare of the other.”