At his weekly general audience on May 27, 2015, Pope Francis asked engaged couples to read Alessandro Manzoni’s novel The Betrothed. He knew how such writers, who are neither bishops nor priests, can have much to teach the Church about Christian faith and life. Manzoni’s classic work depicts the troubled love story of Renzo and Lucia. As a “masterpiece on engagement,” it still has important lessons for the youth of today about the heroic endurance that followers of Jesus need, if they are to face suffering and resist even great evil as they live, hoping for the divine justice to come.
In his 2016 apostolic exhortation on love in the family, Amoris Laetitia (Joy of Love), the Holy Father cited Jorge Luis Borges (AL 8) and other modern writers (AL 107, 181). While never considered official teachers for Catholics and other Christians, they have many significant things to teach us, in this case, about family life.
The exhortation broke new ground by citing a film, said to be the pope’s favorite film, Babette’s Feast: “since we were made for love, we know that there is no greater joy than that of sharing good things” (AL 129). Babette’s unselfish sharing brings much joy to those who have lived harsh and constricted lives. Her love breaks them open to the simple joys of life.