The Francis Chronicles
Couples who are seeking to marry, even those who have lived together, should value their engagement period as a time to grow in mature love and in profound knowledge of each other, said Pope Francis.
The pope urged couples not to rush into marriage. Maturation in love before marriage is a slow process, in which none of the steps should be skipped, Pope Francis told people at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square.
"The covenant of love between a man and a woman, a covenant for life, cannot be improvised; it cannot be done from one day to the next," he said.
Pope Francis urged Franciscan friars to hold true to their charism of fraternity, humility and poverty and not lose the respect they have earned over the centuries for living up to those ideals.
The more one feels small before God and in need of his mercy, "the closer we are to salvation; the more we are convinced of being sinners, the more we are willing to be saved," he said in an audience Tuesday with 200 Franciscan leaders.
The gaze of Jesus can change a person's life just like it did with St. Peter, Pope Francis said.
"He always looks at us with love. He asks us something, he forgives us and he gives us a mission," the pope said Friday during his early morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
Parents must not exclude themselves from their children's lives and, despite what some "experts" may say, they must take an active role in their children's education, said Pope Francis during his general audience Wednesday in St. Peter's Square.
"It's time for fathers and mothers to come out of their exile -- because they have exiled themselves from their children's education -- and to fully assume again their educational role," he said.
Everyone would do well to reflect on their "final farewell" from earthly life and on whether they are prepared to entrust themselves and all they will leave behind to God, said Pope Francis.
During a morning Mass Tuesday at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the pope reflected on the day's readings in which Jesus, after speaking to his disciples of his imminent departure for the Father, prays "the hour has come" (John 17:1-11a), and in which St. Paul gathers with the elders of Ephesus before leaving for Jerusalem (Acts 20:17-27).
Women can be appointed heads of some offices of the Roman Curia, Pope Francis said, but that will not be enough to "recover the role" women should have in the Catholic church.
"Women should be promoted," he said Saturday during an audience with an international group of men and women religious working in the diocese of Rome. But assigning a certain number of women to leadership positions is "simply functionalism," he said.
What is important is to ensure that women have a voice and are listened to, he said, because the church needs their specific contributions.