Among many speeches yesterday (November 18) following Pope Francis’s address to the Humanum colloquium on complementarity, that of Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, was the standout, bringing the audience of 300 in the synod hall to their feet. Using dazzling oratory, he offered a magisterial account of the development of marriage from the very start — a sexual act between fish in Scotland — right up to the present day, told by means of seven stories, and ending with a spectacular exegesis of the Genesis account. It is a story with a tragic end: the dismantling of what he calls “the single most humanising institution in history” resulting in a whole new era of poverty and social division. Yet the recovery of that institution offers hope.
The speech is thought-provoking and should provide fruitful grounds for reflection and lively discussion. It embodies what traditional Judaism and Catholicism have in common regarding the origins and purpose of the family, whilst distinguishing between different approaches. The full text can be found here.