Presenting people with black-and-white answers is not the way to help with marriage difficulties, Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said.
“No marriage is lived just in clear and abstract black-and-white realities. The Church has to understand the grey areas of success and failures, of joys and of disappointments. Jesus’s method was that of accompanying. His method was to show that,” he said.
The archbishop was speaking at a Mass for workers with Accord Dublin, the archdiocese’s marriage advisory service, at the Holy Cross pastoral centre.
“Marriages begin with a dream. Marriages hit difficult times. Marriages fail. Marriages begin anew,” he said.
Pope Francis “stresses the role of the church in accompanying men and women on the journey of married and family life, even when the initial dreams begin to fade or indeed fail”, he said.
He said accompanying meant “being alongside those who are troubled, pointing towards – and indeed representing – Jesus who gently leads us beyond the often paralysing doubts that beset us, gently leads us beyond our own limitations and the imperfections of our love”.
There was “no ideal family in today’s world. Indeed, the really great families which we all know would be the very first to admit that their marriage and family life were far from ideal. That does not mean that we do not propose an ideal for all to aim at.”
He also noted how “there are some in the church who are unsettled by the ability of the pope to place himself in the midst of the uncertainties of people lives. Some, even senior church figures, seem to feel that the affirmation of certainties in an abstract and undoubting way is the only way.”
This is believed to be a reference to four cardinals who submitted five questions to Pope Francis last September. They asked whether his Amoris Laetitia (Joy of Love), published last April , was consistent with church teaching. It indicated that, in certain cases, divorced and civilly remarried Catholics may receive Communion.
The cardinals were Carlo Caffarra of Bologna, Raymond Burke of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Walter Brandmüller, president emeritus of the Vatican Committee for Historical Sciences and Joachim Meisner of Cologne.
In what was seen as a reference to the cardinals last month, Pope Francis criticised those who sought “black-and-white answers” to such questions.
“Some, as with certain responses to Amoris Laetitia, persist in seeing only white or black, when rather one ought to discern in the flow of life. But these critiques – if they’re not from an evil spirit – do help. Some types of rigorism spring from the desire to hide one’s own dissatisfaction under armour,” Pope Francis said.