Family plays an increasingly important role in the social, cultural and political development of a country.
Pope Francis made this observation in a message sent to participants of the Festival of the Family, held in Riva del Garda, Italy, which began Monday and concludes tomorrow. This year's theme is "The ecosystem, life, and work. Female employment and fertility, prosperity, and economic growth."
The festival includes a series of cultural and scientific activities, sports, and debates. One of its outcomes is to create a thesis which considers how to support families in Italy. Organizers and collaborators included family-related institutions of the province of Trento, Upper Garda, and the town of Riva del Garda in Northern Italy, as well as the Department for Family Policies of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers.
The family, the Pope's message began, occupies an 'irreplaceable and fundamental' position, both in civil society and in the Church. Since "the future of humanity passes through the family," he continued, it must be given the attention it deserves.
The Holy Father said it is not enough to reiterate the importance of the family and to assert its rights, but rather the relationship between family and society must be better articulated, especially that between work and family life.
The family has a mission, he stressed, which calls for it to serve its members and help their development. It has rights that need to be supported and guaranteed.
On the other hand, he pointed out, the family also has duties to society, "meaning that it must offer its cooperation to serve the community."
“The tragedy of unemployment, especially among the young,” the Pope said, must be reconsidered and solved.
“The lack of work demeans the person, who feels useless in his own eyes, and impoverishes society,” which is then “deprived” of their contributions, Francis highlighted.
Policies, the Jesuit Pope said, should help give moral and material support to families, and should work toward social inclusion and assisting the disadvantaged.
In particular, attention must be paid to women's employment. Many women feel their rights need to be better recognized, he said, noting this is well-deserved given their valuable work in different sectors of social, professional, and family life.
“Some of them are tired and almost crushed by the bulk of the commitments and duties, without finding sufficient understanding and help,” he said, adding, “We must ensure that the woman is not, for economic reasons, forced to work too hard and too heavy a schedule," in addition to all her responsibilities running the house and bringing up the children.
Above all, he went on to say, "we must consider that the commitments of women at all levels of family life and how they constitute an unparalleled contribution to the life and future of society."
Pope Francis concluded, praying and reminding the participants that the family is the fundamental cell of society.
On ZENIT's website:
For the Pope's Message to the Festival of the Family, go to:
On the NET:
Information on the festival (Italian): http://www.gardatrentino.it/it/Festival-della-famiglia-Riva-del-Garda/