How one bishop sees marriage as key to ‘culture of encounter’

With marriage in crisis in the modern world, the faithful have a duty to work for its restoration, promoting the ‘culture of encounter’ called for by the Holy Father, said a leading U.S. bishop.
“Pope Francis said recently, ‘There is a crisis in the family because it’s beat[en] up from all sides and left very wounded!’ We must help to pick it up, like the Good Samaritan, and care for it,” San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone explained.
The archbishop chairs the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He addressed his fellow bishops at their annual fall meeting in Baltimore on Nov 10.
Marriage is a key part of Pope Francis’ call for a “culture of encounter,” he explained, and Catholics can participate in several ways.
One way to advance a “culture of encounter” through marriage is reaching out to the “most vulnerable” – in this case, the poor, emphasizing “the connection between strengthening marriage and combating poverty,” the archbishop said.
He pointed to an address given by Professor W. Bradford Wilcox to the bishops at their June general assembly in New Orleans.
The University of Virginia professor, who heads the National Marriage Project at the university, spoke about the connection between the strength of marriages and family poverty. “If you care about poverty, if you care about income inequality; if you care about opportunity in America, you should care about marriage,” he told the bishops in a Catholic News Agency report.
Another way to participate in the “culture of encounter” through marriage is “walking with others toward Christ,” Archbishop Cordileone said.
He explained that “good messaging and sound bites, while important, can only go so far in a culture deeply affected and wounded by the sexual revolution.” Catholics must personally accompany those who struggle, for example, with same-sex attraction.
“We must encourage and walk with others in living out this call [to chastity], which is a great ‘yes!’” the archbishop insisted.
Finally, he said, the faithful must bear witness to the truth amid a society of broken families.
Married couples must give witness through the strength of their marriages, he explained, and those with same-sex attraction can bear witness by living in accordance with Catholic teaching.
He pointed to the film “Desire of the Everlasting Hills,” produced by the group Courage, which ministers to persons with same-sex attractions and their families. The film features the conversion stories of three persons who relied upon Christ to abandon homosexual lifestyles.
Archbishop Cordileone ended his address looking forward to three major events in the coming year: next week’s interreligious Vatican conference on the complementarity of man and woman in marriage; next September’s World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, which Pope Francis is expected to attend; and the Ordinary Synod on the Family, which will take place at the Vatican next October.

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