Omni-talented comedian, actor, and producer Whoopi Goldberg is interviewed in this month’s Vanity Fair magazine. Asked what living person she admires most, she says, “Pope Francis. He’s going with the original program. He may not be perfect, but he’s trying.” Asked what or who is the greatest love of her life, she answered, “My family.”
The most overrated virtue, she says, is “Fidelity.”
We can’t know exactly what she meant by that because it was a one-word answer. But we can know Pope Francis’s take on fidelity by what he said this month at a general audience:
“Consider this carefully: the family identity is founded on the promise. One could say that the family lives on the promise of love and fidelity that a man and a woman make to one another. The conjugal promise expands so as to share in the joys and sorrows of all fathers, mothers, children, with generous openness with regard to human coexistence and to the common good.
“In our time, honoring fidelity to the promise of family life appears to be very much weakened. On the one hand, because a misunderstood right to seek one’s own satisfaction, at all costs and in any relationship, is exalted as a nonnegotiable principle of freedom. On the other hand, because the constraints of relational life…are entrusted exclusively to the requirements of law.
“But in reality, no one wants to be loved only for their assets or by constraint. Love, as well as friendship, owe their strength and their beauty to this fact: that they engender a bond without taking away freedom. Love is free, the promise of the family is free, and this is its beauty. Without freedom there is no friendship, without liberty there is no love, without free consent there is no marriage. Thus, liberty and fidelity do not oppose one another, but rather, they support each other, both in interpersonal and social relationships.
“Faithfulness to promises is a true masterpiece of humanity! If we look at its bold beauty, we are frightened, but if we disregard its courageous tenacity, we are lost. No relationship of love — no friendship, no form of loving, no happiness in the common good — reaches the height of our desire and of our hope, if this miracle does not come to dwell in the soul….Honoring the word given, fidelity to the promise, cannot be bought and sold. They cannot be compelled by force or shielded from sacrifice.
“No other school can teach the truth of love, if the family does not do it. No law can impose the beauty and legacy of this treasure of human dignity, if the personal bond between love and procreation is not inscribed in our flesh.
“Brothers and sisters, it is necessary to restore social honor to the fidelity of love!…Our fidelity to the promise is always entrusted to the grace and mercy of God. May God allow us to be worthy of this promise. May the Lord bless [the Synod on the Family’s] work, performed with creative fidelity, with the confidence that He, first, the Lord — He first! — is faithful to his promises.”