Bible and sacres lectures


GENERAL AUDIENCE: On the Universal Importance of the Family

“The promise that God makes to man and woman, at the beginning of history, includes all human beings until the end of history.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

Here is a ZENIT translation of the Holy Father’s address today during his Wednesday General Audience in St. Peter’s Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

This is our final reflection on the subject of marriage and the family. We are on the eve of beautiful and demanding events, which are directly connected with this great subject: the World Meeting of Families at Philadelphia and the Synod of Bishops here in Rome. Both have a worldwide breadth, which corresponds to the universal dimension of Christianity, but also to the universal importance of this fundamental and irreplaceable human community that, in fact, the family is.

The present period of civilization seems marked by the long-term effects of a society administered by economic technocracy. The subordination of ethics to the logic of profit has tremendous resources and enormous media support. In this scenario, a new alliance of man and woman becomes not only necessary but also strategic for the emancipation of people from the colonization of money. This alliance must return to orientate politics, the economy and civil coexistence! It decides the habitability of the earth, the transmission of the meaning of life, the bonds of memory and of hope.

Of this alliance, the conjugal-family community of man and woman is the generative grammar, the “golden bond,” we could say. Faith draws it from the wisdom of the creation of God, who has entrusted to the family not the care of an intimacy that ends in itself, but rather the exciting project of rendering the world “domestic.” The family, in fact, is at the beginning, at the base of this global culture that saves us. It saves us from so many, so many attachments, so many destructions, so many colonizations, such as that of money or those ideological ones that threaten the world so much; the family is at the base to defend oneself.

In fact, in our brief Wednesday meditations on the family, we took our fundamental inspiration from the biblical Word of creation. We can and must draw from this Word again with abundance and profundity. It is a great work that awaits us, but also very exciting. God’s creation is not a simple philosophical premise: it is the universal horizon of life and of faith! There is not a different divine design of creation and of its salvation. It is for the salvation of the creature – of every creature – that God became man: “for us men and for our salvation,” as the Creed says. And the Risen Jesus is “the first born of all creation” (Colossians 1:15).

The created world is entrusted to man and woman: what happens between them leaves an imprint on everything. Their rejection of God’s blessing leads fatally to a delirium of omnipotence that ruins everything. It is what we call “original sin.” And we all come into the world with this inherited sickness.

Despite this, we are not cursed or abandoned to ourselves. The ancient account of God’s first love for man and woman, already had pages written with fire in this regard! “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed” (Genesis 3:15a).  They are the words that God addresses to the deceitful, beguiling serpent. Through these words God marks woman with a protective barrier against evil, to which she can take recourse – if she wishes – for every generation. It means that woman bears a secret and special blessing, for the defense of her child from the Evil One! As the Woman of Revelation, who runs to hide her son from the Dragon. And God protects her (cf. Revelation 12:6).

Think what depth opens here! There are many common places, sometimes even offensive, of the temptress woman that inspires to evil. Instead, there is room for a theology of woman that is equal to this blessing of God for herself and for the generation!

In any case, the merciful protection of God in the dealings of man and woman never fails for both. Let us not forget this! The symbolic language of the Bible tells us that before driving them out from the Garden of Eden, God made for the man and the woman garments of skins, and clothed them (cf. Genesis 3:21) This gesture of tenderness also means that in the painful consequences of our sin, God does not want us to remain naked and abandoned to our fate of sinners. We see this divine tenderness, this care for us, incarnated in Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God, “born of woman” (Galatians 4:4). And Saint Paul says again: “while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Christ, born of woman, of a woman, is God’s caress on our wounds, on our mistakes, on our sins. But God loves us as we are and wants to lead us forward with this plan! And woman is the strongest who carries this plan forward.

The promise that God makes to man and woman, at the beginning of history, includes all human beings until the end of history. If we have sufficient faith, the families of the peoples of the earth will recognize themselves in this blessing. Whoever lets himself be moved by this vision in any way, regardless to what people, nation, or religion he belongs, let him get underway with us. He/she will be our brother and sister, without engaging in proselytism, no! We walk together under this blessing and under this objective of God to make us all brothers in life in a world that goes forward and is born in fact of the family, of the union of man and woman.

May God bless you, families of all corners of the earth! And may God bless you all!

* * *


Dear Brothers and Sisters: Today we conclude our series of catecheses on marriage and the family, on the eve of two significant international events: the World Meeting of Families, to be held next week in Philadelphia, and the Synod of Bishops here in Rome. In these past months, guided by God’s Word, we have reflected on the perennial value of the covenant between man and woman for the future of the entire human family. In the Creator’s plan, marriage and the family have an essential role in shaping an ever more humane political, economic and social life. This role is all the more critical today, in a society increasingly subject to technology and to forms of economic colonization which subordinate ethics to profits. From the beginning, God entrusted his creation to man and woman. Despite our rejection of his original blessing, he continues to watch over our efforts to make this world our common home. In a special way, by the coming of Jesus his Son, he has maintained his promise (cf. Gen 3:15) to bless and protect us in every generation. May families everywhere come to know this blessing!

Pope Francis (in Italian):

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, including those from Great Britain, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Malta, Croatia, Kenya, South Africa, Australia, China, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Canada and the United States ofAmerica. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke an abundance of joy and peace in the Lord Jesus. God bless you all!

* * *

Next Saturday I shall leave for the Apostolic Journey to Cuba and the United States of America, a mission to which I set out with great hope. The main reason for the trip is the Eighth World Meeting of Families, which will take place in Philadelphia. I will also go to the main headquarters of the UN, on the 70th anniversary of that institution. I greet with affection the Cuban people and those of the United States that, guided by their Pastors, have prepared themselves spiritually. I ask everyone to accompany me with their prayer, invoking the light and strength of the Holy Spirit and the intercession of Mary Most Holy, Patroness of Cuba as Virgin of Charity of Cobre, and Patroness of the United States of America as the Immaculate Conception.

Also next Saturday, Blessed Pio Alberto del Corona, Bishop of that diocese and Founder of the Dominican Sisters of the Holy Spirit, will be proclaimed Blessed at San Miniato. He was a zealous guide and wise teacher of the people entrusted to him. May his example and his intercession help the Church to walk in the spirit of the Gospel, bearing fruits of good works.

* * *

I give a cordial welcome to all the Italian-speaking pilgrims. I am happy to receive AVIS of the Marches, accompanied by the Archbishop of Ancona-Osimo, Cardinal Edoardo Menichelli, and the faithful of Spinazzola, with the Archbishop of Altamura-Gravina-Acquaviva delle Fonti, Monsignor Giovanni Ricchiuti, on the occasion of the fourth centenary of the birth of Pope Innocent XII.

I greet the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, who are observing the first centenary of the death of the Founder, Father Lodovico Acernese; the young people of the Custody of the Holy Land; the military men of Italian Air Force, and the professors and researchers taking part in the updating course organized by the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. May the visit to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul nourish in all the faith, which is manifested in concrete works of charity.

A special thought goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Yesterday we celebrated the Liturgical Memoria of Our Lady of Sorrows. Invoke the Mother of God, dear young people, to feel the sweetness of her maternal love; you, dear sick, pray to her in moments of the cross and of suffering; and you, dear newlyweds, look at Her, as the model of your conjugal journey of dedication and fidelity.

[Translation by ZENIT]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation