Bishop Jean Laffitte, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family, today addressed theHumanum colloquium at the Vatican. The colloquium is entitled “The Complementarity of Man and Woman” and has been organised by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Below is a summary of Bishop Laffitte’s address to the colloquium, entitled “The Sacramentality of Human Love According to Saint John Paul II” (full text)
(republished with permission)
Bishop Jean Laffitte reaffirms the centrality of the teaching of St. John Paul II on Christian marriage
With less than a month after the close of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, an interfaith world colloquium took place, in Rome, organized by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This event, which has involved several months of preparation, emphasized the complementarity between man and woman in structuring human love, the source of the Family, the fundamental cell of society.
Among the many contributions made by members of different religious confessions, and available on the colloquium’s official website www.humanum.it the contribution of Catholic thought was presented by the French theologian, Bishop Jean Laffitte, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family.
Delivered to a particularly attentive assembly, the French theologian’s lecture focused initially on the sacramental mystery of the spousal union which has its source in the love that unites Christ to the Church. Bishop Laffitte held that marriage was described by St. John Paul II as a “primordial sacrament” in which all the sacraments find their “prototype”. Then showing the relationship between the body and the sacrament, he underlined the fact that the visible sign of Christ’s love is his dead and risen Body. The union between man and woman can only be understood as a gift which each of the spouses make to each other, the body of each one being considered in its sexual differentiation: the spouses are male and female. The lecture also emphasized the link that St. John Paul II made between the union of the spouses and the creation of man and woman in the image of God.
To conclude, Bishop Laffitte focused on the nuptial and sacrificial dimension of the gift of the Eucharist, which Christ the Bridegroom, gives to the Church, His bride. In reference to mankind’s condition as wounded by original sin, Bishop Laffite stressed that the reciprocal gift of the spouses needs a continuous purification. For this reason, he stated, St. John Paul II illustrated that the ethos of gift became, thanks to the sacrifice of Our Lord, an ethos of redemption. In the light of St. John Paul II’s teaching, Bishop Laffitte could conclude his talk by affirming that the whole issue concerning the indissolubility of Christian marriage can be formulated on the basis of what it is called to express: a love for ever, the gift of Christ to anybody. This is unique, as is the gift that a man or a woman makes of himself or herself in sacramental marriage.”