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Pope Benedict on Jesus' Words on Marriage

Christian Spouses, "Missionaries of Love and Life"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 9, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before reciting the midday Angelus with the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters:

This Sunday, the Gospel presents us Jesus' words on marriage. To the question if it is lawful for a husband to repudiate his wife, as established by a precept of the Mosaic law (cf. Deuteronomy 24:1), he responded that it was a concession of Moses because of "hardness of heart," while the truth about marriage goes back "to the beginning of creation," when, as is written in Genesis, God "made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one" (Mark 10:6-7; cf. Genesis 1:27; 2:24).

And Jesus added: "So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder" (Mark 10:8-9). This was God's original plan, as the Second Vatican Council also reminded in the constitution "Gaudium et Spes": "The intimate partnership of married life and love has been established by the Creator and qualified by his laws, and is rooted in the conjugal covenant. ... For God himself is the author of matrimony" (No. 48).

My thought is directed to all Christian spouses: With them I thank the Lord for the gift of the sacrament of marriage, and exhort them to remain faithful to their vocation in each stage of life, "in joy and in sorrow, in health and in sickness," as they promised in the sacramental rite.

May Christian spouses, aware of the grace received, build a family open to life and capable of facing together the numerous and complicated challenges of our time. Their testimony is particularly necessary today. Families are needed that do not let themselves be drawn by modern cultural currents inspired by hedonism and relativism, and that are willing to realize their mission in the Church and in society with generous dedication.

In the apostolic exhortation "Familiaris Consortio," the Servant of God John Paul II wrote that the sacrament of marriage "makes Christian married couples and parents witnesses of Christ 'to the end of the earth,' as authentic 'missionaries' of love and life" (cf. No. 54). This mission is oriented both to the internal life of the family -- especially in mutual service and in the education of children -- as well as the external: the domestic community, in fact, is called to be the sign of God's love to all. The family can only fulfill this mission if it is supported by divine grace. For this reason, it is necessary to pray tirelessly and to persevere in the daily effort to keep the commitments assumed on the wedding day.

I invoke the maternal protection of the Virgin and of Joseph her spouse on all families, especially those going through difficulties. Mary, Queen of the Family, pray for us!

[At the end of the Angelus, the Pope greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

I warmly welcome the English-speaking pilgrims who are here today. Throughout this month of October we remember in a special way Our Blessed Lady. We ask for her prayers for our loved ones and for ourselves. May her Son, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, bless all of you during your stay in Rome.

© Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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