My Creed on Marriage and Family
by Msgr. László Bíró,
Bishop for the Family,
Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference
I believe that sacramental marriage is a gift from the Giver of all gifts (James 1,17) through the Church, within the Church, for the benefit of all mankind. It is a mystery wherein Christ is present in a real, active, dynamic, constant, patient and loving way.
I believe that marriage and the family are based upon God’s intention, rather than being simply the result of a common agreement that can be arbitrarily changed at any time. It is a profound mystery founded by the Creator and protected by His law so it should never be subject to any kind of human arbitrariness. That is why it cannot be at the mercy of Parliaments, nor be the victim of political struggles.
I believe that in the Creator’s Plan marriage is based on the self-giving of persons. He created both man and woman to be an „I” related to a „you”, therefore neither can ever be an object of possession or oppression by the other. Spouses and family members must always remain persons who can grow within the dialectics of love. True love elevates, fulfils, frees us from selfishness, sets us free in justice. The only way to find ourselves is by giving ourselves to others. Human dignity lies in our ability to give not only things but our whole selves.
I believe that the unity and indissolubility of marriage is not merely an external requirement, but its source is the essence of love, a total self-giving following the example of Jesus Christ. Marital love is one and indissoluble. The „yes” of a newly married couple is one constant request to God that His power and love may enable them to be faithful. Material goods get worn away with time. Love is not subject to time for it is stronger than death.
I believe that the dignity of sexuality lies in mutual self-giving for a whole lifetime. A union of love, through which a man and a woman give themselves to one another in an act due to and reserved for married couples, is not just a biological fact but a personal action deeply related to the human person. Sexuality that is truly worthy of humans can only be realized by persons who have committed themselves to one another for their whole life. It is a false culture which turns sexuality into a thing, an object to be used, and whose principle is „use and throw away”. In this case the „whole”-ness of the personality is at risk.
I believe that the family is more fully and more directly connected to life than any other institution. Marital love is fulfilled by a way of life coming from the mutual self-giving of spouses. Children are not „side-products” of marital love. They are fruits coming from the heart of mutual self-giving. Children are gifts, good news to be accepted. And, because they are gifts, Christian parents bring them up and accompany their growth in a thankful, tender, joyful, loving way. The lifelong mutual commitment of husband and wife is the most appropriate framework of parental vocation.
I believe that family and marriage are requirements both for individual growth and for the future of society. Therefore states and societies must uniquely pronounce in favour of the family, as well as ensure its priority over any other forms of union. Favouring the family this way is acknowledging the results which only marriage and families can present for the benefit of all. Society must not get into the danger of „forgetting the family”. Primarily it is for families themselves to make sure that state legislation relates to families in a positive way. Families should take the initiative to help the society of the next millennium to become a family friendly society.
I believe that the pastoral care for families will not be considered no more than a „luxury service” by the Church of tomorrow either; that parishes will be open to families; that they will consider the faithful not just as being individuals but as persons living in relationships: as husbands, wives, parents and grandparents, children, siblings and grandchildren.
I believe that more and more committed Christian families are going to find one another; that they form groups of families and that these groups together make a network. Each family group is a knot of this net. The more closely knitted the net is, the more needy families it can hold. I dream of a unity of families whose members live out the Gospel, have living relationships, and are open to supporting one another. Both evangelization and the future of the Church is based on Christian families finding one another.
I believe that the family is Gospel, joy, a place of life, perspective, hope. The family is a basic reference point. It is love releasing human energies. Speaking about the true essence of family is tantamount to protecting life. Working for the family is serving God and the future of mankind.