It is important that spouses and parents are not left alone in their commitment to applying the Gospel, the Pope says

The Church must do more to help young married couples, Pope Francis has said.

The Pope said that marriage and family life are “the most effective antidote against the individualism that currently runs rampant,” but that it does not do one any good to pretend that marriage and family life are free from situations requiring difficult choices.

Francis said the Church must strengthen its programmes “to respond to the desire for family that emerges in the soul of the young generations” and to help couples once they are married.

The video message was communicated at the Italian bishops’ conference in Rome on Saturday. The gathering was focused on “conscience and norm” in the Pope’s apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

“Love between a man and a woman is obviously among the most generative human experiences; it is the leaven of a culture of encounter, and introduces to the present world an injection of sociality,” the Pope said.

“In the domestic reality, sometimes there are concrete knots to be addressed with prudent conscience on the part of each,” he said. “It is important that spouses, parents, not be left alone, but accompanied in their commitment to applying the Gospel to the concreteness of life.”

Conscience, Pope Francis said, always has God’s desire for the human person as its ultimate reference point. However, too many people today confuse a rightly formed conscience with personal preferences dominated by selfishness.

“The contemporary world risks confusing the primacy of conscience, which is always to be respected, with the exclusive autonomy of the individual” even when the individual’s decisions impact his or her marriage and family life, the Pope said.

“In the very depths of each one of us, there is a place wherein the ‘Mystery’ reveals itself, and illuminates the person, making the person the protagonist of his story,” he said. “Conscience, as the Second Vatican Council recalls, is this ‘most secret core and sanctuary’ of a man. There he is alone with God, whose voice echoes in his depths.'”

Each Christian, Pope Francis said, must be “vigilant so that in this kind of tabernacle there is no lack of divine grace, which illuminates and strengthens married love and the parental mission.”