Pope Francis: ‘Union of Man and Woman in Marriage’ is ‘Fundamental’ For ‘Whole Societies’

Michael W. Chapman | November 18, 2014 | 1:50pm EST
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Pope Francis. (AP)

– Pope Francis reasserted the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage on Monday, stressing the “complementarity” between man and woman – the two complete each other – and adding that “children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother.”

“[T]he contribution of marriage to society is ‘indispensable,’” said the Pope.

At the launch of a three-day conference on the “Complementarity of Man and Woman in Marriage,” sponsored by the Vatican’s office for the Doctrine of the Faith, Pope Francis said he hoped the meeting would inspire “all who seek to support and strengthen the union of man and woman in marriage as a unique, natural, fundamental and beautiful good for persons, communities and whole societies.”

Complementarity happens when “one of two things adds to, completes, or fulfills a lack in the other,” said the Pope, explaining that this completion, or coming together, of man and woman in marriage reflects a “harmony” that was “made by our Creator.”

The “complementarity of man and woman” is a “root of marriage and family,” said Pope Francis. “Do not fall into the trap of being swayed by political notion. Family is an anthropological fact – a socially and culturally related fact.”

“We cannot qualify it [family] based on ideological notions or concepts important only at one time in history,” he said. “We can’t think of conservative or progressive notions. Family is a family. It can’t be qualified by ideological notions.”

(AP Photo/Fredrik Sandberg)

The Pope also said that marriage and family today “are in crisis” in part because we live in a “culture of the temporary,” where more and more people give up on marriage.

“This revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom,” said Pope Francis, “but in fact it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.”

The decline in marriage fuels poverty and “other social ills, disproportionately affecting women, children and the elderly,” he said. “It is always they who suffer the most in this crisis.”

Marriage and family are the remedy against social decay, said the Pope. “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.”

That is why, he noted, he has stressed that “the contribution of marriage to society is ‘indispensable,’ that it ‘transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple.”

(AP Photo)

Concerning the pontiff’s remarks, Maureen Ferguson, a senior policy adviser of The Catholic Association, said, “Pope Francis today addressed the Humanum conference in Rome where he reaffirmed, with great clarity, the Church's teachings on both the permanence of marriage and the unique complimentarily of man and woman within marriage.   Pope Francis affirmed that ‘children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother,’ referring to the complimentarily of man and woman as one of the ‘dynamic harmonies at the heart of all Creation.’”

The three-day conference at the Vatican is an inter-religious event, which includes members of various faiths and denominations from 23 countries. Some of the speakers include Pastor Rick Warren of the Saddleback church, Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore, Henry Eyring with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), and Anglican Archbishop Nicholas Okoh.

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