Vatican City, May 13, 2022 / 10:25 am (CNA).
Family life is more tested today than it has ever been before, Pope Francis told a group of moral theologians on Friday.
“First of all, for some time ‘the family has been going through a profound cultural crisis, like all communities and social bonds,’” the pope said on May 13, quoting from his 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium.
“The very possibility of establishing a family today is often arduous and young people find so many difficulties in getting married and having children,” he said.
“In fact,” Francis went on, “the epochal changes that we are experiencing prompt moral theology to take up the challenges of our time and to speak a language that is understandable to interlocutors — not just ‘insiders’; and thus help ‘overcome adversity and contrasts’ and foster ‘a new creativity to express in the current challenges the values that constitute us as a people in societies and in the Church, the People of God.’”
The pope also noted that many families were suffering from a lack of work and dignified housing, “where they can live in peace in an age of great and rapid change.”
“These difficulties fall on family life, generating relational problems,” he said.
Pope Francis met at the Vatican with participants in an international conference on moral theology, organized by the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Pontifical Theological Institute John Paul II for Marriage and the Family Sciences.
The conference is being held on May 11-14 in Rome, on the theme of “Pastoral practices, life experience, and moral theology: Amoris laetitia between new opportunities and new paths.”
The family, Pope Francis said, played a decisive role today in the pastoral conversion of communities and the missionary transformation of the Church.
He suggested that different theological approaches should work in dialogue to help answer the question: “How can Christian families bear witness today, in the joy and labors of conjugal, filial, and fraternal love, to the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?”
“At the center of the Christian life is the grace of the Holy Spirit, received in lived faith, which prompts acts of charity,” the pope said.
“Goodness, then,” he continued, “is a call, it is a ‘voice’ that liberates and urges consciences, as the text of Gaudium et spes says: ‘In the depths of his conscience, man detects a law which he does not impose upon himself, but which holds him to obedience […] Conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of a man. There he is alone with God, Whose voice echoes in his depths.’”
Addressing the theologians, he said: “You are all asked to rethink today the categories of moral theology in their mutual connection: the relationship between grace and freedom, between conscience, the good, the virtues, the norm and the Aristotelian phrónesis, Thomistic prudentia and spiritual discernment, the relationship between nature and culture, between the plurality of languages and the oneness of agape.”
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