How Can Youth Dream of a Future if Grandparents' Testimony of Success Is Hidden?, Pope Asks

In opening ecclesial conference of Diocese of Rome, Francis draws from themes of synods to outline facets of family ministry

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Pope Francis this evening opened the annual ecclesial conference of the Diocese of Rome, giving an address and then later speaking off-the-cuff to the questions of the audience.
In his address, the Pope drew from three biblical images in order to speak of family themes related to topics addressed in the recent synods on the family.
In the first, “put off your shoes … you are standing on holy ground” from Exodus, the Holy Father encouraged giving “a face to topics,” which exacts «an atmosphere of respect capable of helping us to listen to what God is saying to us within our situations.”
“How much it helps to give a face to topics!” he affirmed, saying that this “frees us from speaking in the abstract, to be able to approach and commit ourselves to concrete individuals.”
The second image the Pope used was from Luke’s account of the Pharisee who “prayed” by thanking God that, “I am not like these other men.”
“I consider it necessary to take an important step,” the Pope said in this regard. “We cannot analyze, reflect and even less so pray about reality as if we were on different banks or paths, as if we were outside of history. We are all in need of conversion; we are all in need of putting ourselves before the Lord.”
He said that analyzing family issues is “important and necessary” and the analyses “will help us to have a healthy realism.»
«But,» the Holy Father emphasized, «nothing is comparable to the evangelical realism, which does not halt at the description of situations, of problems, — even less of sin — but always goes beyond and succeeds, seeing behind every face, every story, every situation an opportunity, a possibility.”
The Pope said that this type of realism “soils its hands because it knows that ‘wheat and weeds’ grow together, and the best wheat — in this life — will always be mixed with a bit of weeds.”
Finally, the Pope used from the Book of Joel the image of “old men shall dream dreams” to speak about the value of testimony, and particularly of the role of the elderly in society.
“As a society, we have deprived our elderly of their voice; we have deprived them of their space; we have deprived them of the opportunity to tell us about their life, their stories and their experiences,” he lamented. “We have set them aside and thus we have lost the richness of their wisdom. By discarding them, we discarded the possibility of having contact with the secret that enabled them to go forward. We are deprived of the testimony of spouses that not only persevered in time, but that keep in their heart gratitude for all that they have lived.”
This lack of testimony, of models, keeps young people from being able to “make plans, given that the future generates insecurity, mistrust and fear.”
“How can we pretend that young people live the challenge of the family, of marriage as a gift, if they continually hear from us that it is a burden?” he asked. “If we want ‘visions,’ let us allow our grandparents to tell us, to share with us their dreams, so that we can have prophecies of the morrow.”
The Pope concluded by calling for a family pastoral ministry that is “capable of receiving, accompanying, discerning and integrating. A pastoral ministry that permits and renders possible the appropriate scaffolding so that the life entrusted to us finds the support of which it is in need to develop according to God’s dream.”

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Kathleen Naab

United States

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