The “indissoluble bond” of the Catholic Church with its members, including those struggling to live up to Church teaching on family life, “is the most transparent sign of the faithful and merciful love of God,” Pope Francis said.
While many people today struggle to live the Christian ideal of marriage and family life, the chief task of the Church’s theologians and pastoral ministers is not to point to failures, but to draw close to people “so that grace can ransom them, reanimate them and heal them,” the pope told staff, faculty and students of the Rome-based Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family.
Formally opening the institute’s 2016-17 academic year on 27th October, Pope Francis paid tribute to the “farsighted intuition” of St John Paul II who, in 1981, founded the institute of graduate studies focused on Catholic teaching about the family. In addition to the main campus at Rome’s Pontifical Lateran University, the institute now has branches or affiliates in the United States, Benin, Brazil, India, Mexico, Spain and Australia. According to the Sydney-based Catholic Weekly, the day before Pope Francis met the group, the Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis J. Hart, announced the Australia campus would close after 2018 for financial reasons.
In August, Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia as chancellor of the institute, urging a renewal of its program and structures to ensure that “a pastoral perspective and attention to the wounds of humanity should never be lacking.”
Picture: Pope Francis. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).