Pope says defending traditional marriage is matter of 'human ecology'

New spouses exchange rings as Pope Francis, pictured in the background, celebrates the marriage rite for 20 couples during a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on Sept. 14. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis called for preserving the family as an institution based on marriage between a man and a woman, which he said is not a political cause but a matter of "human ecology."

"The complementarity of man and woman ... is at the root of marriage and the family," the pope said Nov. 17, opening a three-day interreligious conference on traditional marriage. "Children have the right to grow up in a family with a father and mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child's development and emotional maturity."


Pope Francis said that "marriage and the family are in crisis. We now live in a culture of the temporary, in which more and more people are simply giving up on marriage as a public commitment. The revolution in mores and morals has often flown the flag of freedom, but in fact it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable."

According to the pope, the "crisis in the family has produced an ecological crisis, for social environments, like natural environments, need protection. And although the human race has come to understand the need to address conditions that menace our natural environments, we have been slower—we have been slower in our culture, and also in our Catholic culture—to recognize that our fragile social environments are also at risk. It is therefore essential that we foster a new human ecology."

Pope Francis voiced hope that young people would be "revolutionaries with the courage to seek true and lasting love, going against the current." But he also warned against falling into the "trap of being swayed by ideological concepts."

"We cannot speak today of the conservative family or the progressive family," he said. "The family is the family."

The pope also stressed that the complementarity between male and female does not necessarily entail stereotypical gender roles.

"Let us not confuse (complementarity) with the simplistic idea that all the roles and relations of the two sexes are fixed in a single, static pattern," he said. "Complementarity will take many forms as each man and woman brings his or her distinctive contributions to their marriage and to the education of their children."

Pope Francis said Christians find the meaning of complementarity in St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, "where the apostle tells us that the Spirit has endowed each of us with different gifts so that -- just as the human body's members work together for the good of the whole -- everyone's gifts can work together for the benefit of each."

"To reflect upon complementarity is nothing less than to ponder the dynamic harmonies at the heart of all creation," the pope said.

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G Miller
4 years 4 months ago
It would be great if all priests understood biology as well as they are supposed to understand theology. In reading this article, it is clear that the Church fails to understand some basic biology. First, greater than 95% of people born are born straight. That is not probably not going to change. Second, the Church needs to look not to basic reproductive biology in choosing mates but look to neurobiology. Our neurobiology plays a central role in who we choose to marry and what role you play in that marriage. Unfortunately I am not surprised that the Church hasn't turned this corner since it still looks to ancient philosophers to guide their thinking. It's really unfortunate that they aren't taking advantage of all the modern data that exists to confirm or change Church teaching. The Church is more likely to take Democritus' word about atomic structure than they are to talk (and listen) to Stephen Hawking or Peter Higgs. Additionally, it would be great for the Church to acknowledge the important work that is done by adoptive and foster parents (straight and gay) in raising children when their biological family deteriorates. We as a species have adapted to the challenge of raising children not biologically our own. Yet, is there a saint, who is well known, who has answered God's call to be an adoptive parent? Has the Church celebrated their work? I know a gay couple who adopted three young brothers in California. They have raised them as their own. Yet the Church will speak ill of the unheralded, thankless task that they have chosen to undertake because they are gay. I would expect a man like Cardinal Burke to deny them communion despite the holy work of raising children that they have accepted and made central in their lives.


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