This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:20 in St. Peter’s Square, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.
In his address in Italian, the Pope focused his meditation on his Apostolic Journey to Ireland, which just ended, on the occasion of the 9th World Meeting of Families (Biblical passage from Psalm 128:1-6).
After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father expressed special greetings to groups of faithful present.
Then he made an appeal on the occasion of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, which will be observed on Saturday, September 1.
The General Audience ended with the singing of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.
* * *
The Holy Father’s Catechesis
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Last weekend I undertook a trip to Ireland to take part in the World Meeting of Families. I’m sure you saw it on television. My presence was above all to confirm Christian families in their vocation and mission. The thousands of families — spouses, grandparents, children — gathered in Dublin, with all the variety of their languages, cultures and experiences, were an eloquent sign of the beauty of God’s dream for the whole human family. And we know it: God’s dream is unity, harmony and peace in families and in the world, fruit of fidelity, forgiveness and reconciliation , which He has given us in Christ. He calls families to take part in this dream and make of the world a home where no one is alone, no one is unwanted, no one is excluded. Think well about this: what God wants is that no one be alone, no one be unwanted, no one be excluded. Therefore, the theme of this World Meeting was very appropriate. It was called thus: “The Gospel of the Family, Joy for the World.”
I am grateful to the President of Ireland, to the Prime Minister, to the different government, civil and religious Authorities, and to the many people of all levels who helped to prepare and to carry out the Meeting’s events, a many thanks to the Bishops, who worked so much. Addressing the Authorities in Dublin’s Castle, I confirmed that the Church is the family of families and that, as a body, she sustains her cells in their indispensable role for the development of a fraternal and solidary society.
True and proper “light-points” of these days were the testimonies of conjugal love given by couples of every age. Their stories have reminded us that marital love is a special gift of God, to be cultivated every day in the “domestic church,” which is the family. How much need the world has of a revolution of love, of a revolution of tenderness, which saves us from the present culture of the provisional! And this revolution begins in the heart of the family.
I met in Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral with spouses committed in the Church and many couples of young spouses, and many small children. Then I met with some families that face particular challenges and difficulties. Thanks to the Capuchin Brothers, who are always close to the people, and to the larger ecclesial family, they experience the solidarity and support that are the fruit of charity.
The culminating moment of my visit was the great celebration with the families on Saturday evening in Dublin’s Stadium, followed on Sunday by the Mass in Phoenix Park. In the Vigil we heard very touching testimonies of families that suffered due to the wars, families renewed by forgiveness, families that love saved from the spiral of addictions, families that learned to use well mobile phones and tablets and families giving priority to time spent together. Highlighted was the value of communication between generations and the specific role that corresponds to grandparents in consolidating family bonds and transmitting the treasure of the faith. Today — it’s hard to say it — but it seems that grandparents disturb. In this throw away culture, grandparents are “discarded,” they grow away. But the grandparents are the wisdom; they are the memory of a people, the memory of families! And the grandparents must transmit this memory to the grandchildren. Young people and children must talk with grandparents to carry history forward. Please, don’t discard the grandparents. May they be close to your children, to your grandchildren.
On Sunday morning, I went on pilgrimage to the Marian Shrine of Knock, so dear to the Irish people. There, in the chapel built in the place of the Virgin’s apparition, I entrusted all families to her maternal protection, in particular those of Ireland. And although my trip didn’t include a visit to Northern Ireland, I addressed a special greeting to its people and encouraged the process of reconciliation, pacification, friendship and ecumenical cooperation.
My visit to Ireland, in addition to great joy, was also to take on the pain and bitterness of the sufferings caused in that country by different forms of abuse, also on the part of members of the Church, and of the fact that in the past Ecclesiastical Authorities were not always able to address these crimes in an appropriate way. The meeting with some survivors left a profound sign — they were eight — and several times I asked the Lord for forgiveness for these sins, for the scandal and for the sense of betrayal procured. The Irish Bishops have undertaken a serious course of purification and reconciliation with those that suffered abuses, and with the help of the national Authorities, they have established a series of severe norms to guarantee the safety of young people. And then, in my meeting with the Bishops, I encouraged them in their effort to remedy the failures of the past with honesty and courage, trusting in the Lord’s promises and counting on the profound faith of the Irish people, to inaugurate a season of renewal of the Church in Ireland. The faith exists in Ireland, there are people of faith, a faith with great roots. But do you know something? There are few vocations to the priesthood. How is it that this faith doesn’t succeed <here>? Because of these problems, the scandals, so many things . . . We must pray that the Lord may send holy priests to Ireland, send new vocations. And we will do so together, praying a “Hail Mary” to Our Lady of Knock. [Recitation of the Hail Mary] Lord Jesus, send us holy priests.
Dear brothers and sisters, the World Meeting of Families in Dublin was a prophetic, comforting experience of so many families committed in the evangelical way of marriage and family life; disciple and missionary families, leaven of goodness, holiness, justice and peace. We forget the many families — so many! — that carry forward their family, the children, with fidelity, asking for forgiveness from one another when there are problems. We forget because it’s fashionable today in magazines, in newspapers to speak thus: “He has divorced her . . . She from him . . . And separation . . . “ But please, this is an awful thing. It’s true: I respect everyone, we must respect people, but the ideal isn’t divorce, the ideal isn’t separation, the ideal isn’t the destruction of the family. The ideal is the united family. So forward: this is the ideal!
The next World Meeting of Families will be held in Rome in 2021. We entrust all of them to the protection of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, so that in their homes, parishes and communities they can truly be “joy for the world.”[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
A warm welcome goes to the Italian-speaking pilgrims.
In particular, I greet the Pious Sisters of the Redemption taking part in their General Chapter; the Daughters of Divine Zeal; the Priests of the Brazilian Pius Pontifical College; the Priests and Deacons of Milan — these Lombards are noisy!
— the participants in the summer meeting for Seminarians, and the Confirmation candidates of Chiavari and of Lucca, accompanied by their Bishops.
I greet the Musical Corps Our Lady of Dinnammare of Messina and the parish groups, in particular those of Grotte di Castro, of San Giorgio del Sannio and of Curteri di Mercato San Severino.
A particular thought goes to young people, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds. Today is the liturgical memorial of the Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist. May the heroic sacrifice of the Precursor teach you to understand what is the supreme value for a Christian: to witness the lordship of Christ, living and working in our midst, not only with words but with the gift of life itself. May God bless you all![Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
The Holy Father’s Appeal
Observed next Saturday, September 1, is the fourth World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, which we celebrate in union with Orthodox brothers and sisters and with the adherence of other Christian Churches and Communities. In this year’s message, I wish to call attention to the question of water, primary good to protect and to put at the disposition of all. I’m pleased with the different initiatives that the particular Churches, the Institutes of Consecrated Life and ecclesial aggregations have prepared in various places. I invite all to unite themselves in prayer on Saturday for our common home, for the care of our common home.[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]