Meeting with families in Santiago de Cuba


Pope: Families Are the Answer for the Future

Says Without Them We Can’t Learn to Be Human

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Pope Francis left Cuba today after telling families that they are needed for the future, to save societies from people who haven’t learned how to be human.

The Pope’s final public address in his four-day visit to the island nation was an exhortation to families, not to be perfect or never have arguments, but to be the space where people can discover not only the love of God, but also how to deal with others and how to reign in their own egotism.

Jesus likes to be with families, the Holy Father said, and it is in families that «we learn fraternity, that we learn solidarity, that we learn not to be overbearing. It is in the home that we learn to receive, to appreciate life as a blessing and to realize that we need one another to move forward. It is in the home that we experience forgiveness, that we are continually asked to forgive and to grow. It’s interesting, in the home there is no room for ‘putting on masks’: we are who we are, and in one way or another we are called to do our best for others.»

The Pope lamented that the experience of family is «disappearing,» and consequently «everything is slowly breaking up, growing apart.»

«We have fewer moments in common, to stay together, to stay at home as a family,» he said. «As a result, we don’t know how to be patient, we don’t know how to ask permission or we don’t know how to ask forgiveness, or even we don’t know how to say ‘thank you,’ because our homes are growing empty. Not empty of people. Empty of relationships, empty of contacts, empty of encounters. Of parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings.»

The Pope said that the family is a «school of humanity» and that without it, one’s personality becomes all about «I, mine, me, with me, for me — totally centered in oneself, unaware of solidarity, fraternity, teamwork, love, arguments among siblings.»

«Please, never forget one thing,» Francis said. «Families are not a problem, they are first and foremost an opportunity. An opportunity which we have to care for, protect and support. That is a way of saying that they are a blessing. When you begin to live as if the family is a problem, you get stuck, you don’t go forward. You are very centered in yourself.»

Saying that there is often talk about the future, the Pontiff exhorted: «Let us leave behind a world with families. This is the best inheritance. Let us leave behind a world with families. No doubt about it: the perfect family does not exist; there are no perfect husbands and wives, perfect parents, perfect children — and if I can dare to say it, there is no perfect mother-in-law — but this does not prevent families from being the answer for the future. […] So let us care for our families, true schools for the future. Let us care for our families, true spaces of freedom. Let us care for families, true centers of humanity.»

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Kathleen Naab

United States

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