Tony Perkins and a host of other faith and cultural leaders are in Rome to meet with Pope Francis. This is the first installment of Tony's experiences and insight during his visit.
Pope Francis began the gathering of international religious leaders this morning with a clear message that marriage and family are in trouble in large part because some are yielding the truth to trends. "In our day," he said to the gathering of international religious and cultural leaders, "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 Pope explained that it is important to challenge young people to not to build upon the temporal, but rather the transcendent. "It is important that they young people do not give themselves over to the poisonous mentality of the temporary, but rather be revolutionaries with the courage to seek true and lasting love, going against the common pattern: this must be done."
The theological and doctrinal differences present among the 200 or so attendees is significant, making the common understanding of the complementarity of man and woman in marriage all the more revealing. Marriage is not a creation of government or of man. Marriage is in the created order of God. The societal impact on the decline of marriage was clearly present in the comments made today.
As Pope Francis said, "This revolution in manners 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. Evidence is mounting that the decline of the marriage culture is associated with increased poverty and a host of other social ills…"
In addition to Pope Francis, there were several other outstanding presentations, among them Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Primate of the Church of Nigeria in the Anglican Communion, who said, "The Church must be God's prophetic voice in the world supporting the family. He went on to say, "Where the culture and the gospel clash, the culture must bow to the gospel."
The message is that, as Christians, we cannot shrink back from conflict, it not the power of the sword, but the Spirit that will prevail. As Paul wrote in Romans nearly 2000 years ago, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."