A good father teaches his children by giving an example of love and integrity. This was the reflection given by Pope Francis during his General Audience today.

The Holy Father entered the Paul VI Hall today, greeted by thousands of pilgrims and with live music from a musical group here in Rome for the IV International Congress of Scholas Occurrentes, an educational initiative supported by the Holy Father.

In his address, Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the role of the father saying that he wanted to reflect on its positive aspects. Every family, he said, needs a father in order to transmit "what truly counts in life, namely a wise heart."

"A father knows wells how much it costs to transmit this heritage: how much closeness, how much sweetness and how much firmness," he said. "But, what a consolation and what a reward you receive, when children honor this heritage! It is a joy that redeems all labor, which surpasses all misunderstanding and heals every wound."

The Holy Father went on to stress the importance of the father's presence within the family, especially in sharing both joy and pain, hardships and hopes with his wife and in being close to their children.

Recalling the Gospel of the Prodigal Son, the Pope said that God, "the only who can truly be called 'the Good Father'" is the example that one should follow.

"How much dignity and how much dignity can be found in that father who awaits at the door of the house, waiting for his son to return," he said. "Fathers must be patient; many times there is nothing else that can be done but to wait. Pray and wait with patience, sweetness, magnanimity and mercy."

"A good father knows how to wait and knows how to forgive, from the depths of his heart. Certainly, he knows how to correct with firmness: he is not a weak father, complacent, sentimental. A father who knows how to correct without degrading is the same as one who knows how to protect tirelessly.

The Jesuit Pope went on to recall a father he met who said that although he corrected his child with a slight spank, he never dared to strike his child in the face to not "degrade" him. "How beautiful!" the Pope said. "He has a sense of dignity. If he must correct, he does it justly and goes forward."

Concluding his address, the Holy Father highlighted the importance of fathers who await their children, especially after they make mistakes. The Church, he said, is committed to help fathers "so that they become for new generations guardians and irreplaceable mediators of faith in goodness, justice and in the protection of God, like St. Joseph."