Society's Future Is Rooted in Young, and in Elderly, Says Francis

Warns Against Abuse of ‘Memory’ and of ‘Promise’

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A traditional gathering in Italy for Catholic laypeople brought a message from Pope Francis this year.

The Pope sent a message to those partcipating in the 47th Social Week for Italian Catholics, underway since Thursday.

The event aims to address changes in society as it develops. This year’s theme is on the family as «hope» and «future,» and the bulk of Francis’ message addressed that theme.

The Pope commented that for the Christian community, the family is “a path for generations through which faith, love and fundamental moral values are transmitted, as well as concrete solidarity, hard work, patience, and also plans, hope, and future. All of this – which the Christian community lives in the light of faith, hope and charity – it has never kept to herself, but every day it becomes leaven in the dough of society, for the greater common good.”

The tradition of the Social Weeks began in 1907 and one of its promoters was Blessed Giuseppe Toniolo. This will in fact be the first Week convened since his beatification last April. The Weeks are proposed as high profile cultural and ecclesiastical initiatives which aim to face and, if possible, anticipate the at times radical challenges posed by the evolution of society.

“Hope and future”, writes the Pope, “presuppose memory. The memory of the elderly gives us the support we need to continue on our path. The future of society … is rooted in the elderly and the young: the latter because they have the strength and youth to carry history forward, and the former because they are the source of living memory. A population that does not take care of the elderly and of children and the young has no future, because it abuses both its memory and its promise”.

“As the Church, we offer a concept of the family rooted in the Book of Genesis, of the unity in the difference between man and woman, and the fruitfulness of this complementarity, and we recognise it as an asset for all, as the first natural society. … The family understood in this way remains the first and principle building block of society and of an economy on a human scale. … The consequences, positive or negative, of decisions of a principally cultural or political nature in relation to the family touch upon the various areas of the life of a society and a country”.

In his message, Pope Francis reiterated that we cannot ignore the suffering of many families caused by a lack of employment, housing problems, the fractures that may develop within a family or a marriage, and “the violence that unfortunately lurks and does damage inside our homes”. However at the same time, he concluded, we must remember the “simple, but beautiful and courageous witness given by many families, who experience matrimony and parenthood with joy, illuminated and supported by the grace of the Lord, without fear of facing the moments of the cross that, lived in union with the Lord, do not obstruct the path of love, but rather make it stronger and more complete”.

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