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News - Pope to families: "Share the joy of this call"
Pope Francis greeted all the families who took part in the Tenth World Meeting of Families, reaffirming their beauty, the need to defend them "from the poisons of selfishness, individualism, the culture of indifference and discarding", but above all encouraging them "to resuming with decision the path of family love, sharing with all members the joy of this call". A palpable joy in St Peter's Square, where on Saturday 25 June, Mass was celebrated in the presence of families from all over the world, as witnessed by the many flags that coloured the square. Among them were the over two thousand delegates from the Bishops' Conferences who took part in the work of the Theological-Pastoral Congress. Couples of young people with very young children and grandparents with grandchildren of all ages in tow seemed to form one big family squeezed in the embrace of the Bernini colonnade. A family that is Church. 'The Church, in fact, was born from a Family, that of Nazareth,' recalled the Bishop of Rome, 'and is made up mainly of families'. Before the celebration, presided over by Cardinal Kevin Joseph Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, Francis passed through the square in a pope mobile on which there were also some children.
To the families who over the past few days have meditated on the theme of the meeting, "Family love: vocation and way to holiness," Bergoglio asked them to live this love in a way that is "always open, extroverted, capable of 'touching' the weakest and most wounded that one encounters along the way: fragile in body and fragile in soul. Love, in fact, even family love, is purified and strengthened when it is given", underlined the Pope who delivered the homily.
Thanks to the live streaming and television broadcasts, the 10th World Meeting of Families - which concludes the Amoris laetitia Year of the Family - was experienced in every corner of the earth in its unprecedented multi-centered and widespread formula, giving life to "a sort of immense constellation" that has a rich baggage "of experiences, of intentions, of dreams" but also of "worries and uncertainties". Referring to the readings proposed by the liturgy, the Pope spoke of freedom "one of the goods most valued and sought after by modern and contemporary man", who however lacks "inner freedom". He reflected that those who marry and decide to have children make the "courageous" choice of putting their freedom at the service of their spouse. He reiterated that today betting on family love is a "courageous" act that must be performed with the help of parents who "must push their children to fly the nest". And in difficult moments, of crisis, which inevitably there will be, "do not go back home to mom and dad," Bergoglio said, "but rediscover love".
"This is how one lives freedom in the family - Francis' words -. There are no 'planets' or 'satellites' each travelling on its own orbit. The family is the place of encounter, of sharing, of going out of oneself to welcome the other and be close to him. It is the first place where one learns to love'.
The bishop of Rome gave advice to parents who try to protect their children from all dangers and pain and who fear today's society 'where everything seems chaotic and precarious'. An overprotective behavior that "sometimes even ends up blocking the desire to bring new lives into the world". The suggestion is not to clip children's wings, not to preserve them "from every bit of discomfort and suffering, but to try to transmit to them the passion for life, to kindle in them the desire to find their vocation and to embrace the great mission that God has planned for them. If you help your children to discover and embrace their vocation, you will see that they will be 'gripped' by this mission and will have the strength to face and overcome life's difficulties. A strength that they will also be able to draw from following the testimony of parents who live "marriage and the family as a mission, with fidelity and patience, despite the difficulties, sad moments and trials".
The same parents, by accepting the call to marriage, have "left the 'nest'", embarking on an unknown path "with ever new situations, unexpected events, surprises". They welcomed God's call and are therefore invited "not to regret the life of before, the freedom of before, with its deceptive illusions - the Pope's words - life becomes fossilized when it does not welcome the novelty of God's call by regretting the past".
At the end of the celebration - which saw among the concelebrants 15 cardinals, including the vicar for the diocese of Rome Angelo De Donatis, 140 bishops, including the auxiliary Dario Gervasi, delegate for family pastoral care in the diocese of Rome, and 271 priests - the text of the Missionary Prayer for Families signed by Francis was delivered and read out. "Be the seed of a more fraternal world," the Pope writes, among other things. "Be families with a big heart, be the welcoming face of the Church". Before the blessing, Cardinal Farrell, addressing a greeting, explained that the dicastery is working with the bishops' conferences and dioceses to help them respond to the Pope's call to evangelize families and to evangelize with families. "There is still a lot of work to be done," he admitted, "but after this meeting there is confidence and renewed enthusiasm in our hearts. Families, with their specific vocation to holiness, are truly the most beautiful face of the Church and can contribute in a unique way to evangelizing the world with their ability to witness love, fortitude in difficulties and perseverance in trusting abandonment to God". He then announced that the next gathering of families with Pope Francis will be the 'Jubilee of Families' to be celebrated in Rome on the occasion of the 2025 Jubilee, while the XI World Meeting of Families will take place in 2028. Finally, the official prayer for the 10th World Meeting of Families was recited. The text of the Missionary Prayer and the prayer, printed in thousands of copies, will also be distributed to the faithful during the recitation of the Angelus on Sunday 26th.