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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Pope to priests: Defend marriage ministering to those in irregular unions

Reaching out to and guiding couples in cohabitation with tenderness and compassion is essential to promoting and defending the sanctity of marriage, Pope Francis said.

Couples who have chosen to live together without getting married in the Church “are, in spiritual and moral terms, among the poor and the least, toward whom the Church, in the footsteps of her teacher and Lord, wants to be a mother who doesn’t abandon, but who draws near and cares for,” he said in an audience with parish priests on 25th February.

Look upon such couples with “tenderness and compassion,” he said, urging the clergy to remember that ministry to the least and the neediest “is an essential part of your work in promoting and defending the sacrament of marriage.”

The pope spoke to parish priests who were in Rome attending a course on marriage preparation and the new rules to reform the process for verifying the validity of a marriage. The course was offered from 22nd to 25th February and was sponsored by the Vatican’s Roman Rota, a marriage tribunal.

Pope Francis told the priests he was pleased the priests participated in the studies “because it is up to you, above all, to concretely apply (the teachings) in your daily contact with families.”

Picture: Pope Francis talks with Mgr Pio Vito Pinto, dean of the Roman Rota, during an audience with parish priests attending a course on marriage preparation sponsored by the Roman Rota, at the Vatican on 25th February. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano).