In the Parish, Church Must Be Seen as a Family, Pope Says

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 18, 2003 ( John Paul II says the parish is the place where people must experience the Church as a family.

The Pope expressed this conviction in a message to the general assembly of the Italian bishops’ conference, which began Monday and is focusing on the parish.

In his message, the Holy Father stresses that it is “particularly important” that “Italian parishes maintain the family style that characterizes them, and which makes them, in a certain sense, great ‘families of families.'”

“In this way, parishes will be a warm and welcoming environment of life and will be able to make a great contribution to the defense and promotion of the family, precious and irreplaceable institution which, unfortunately, is constantly threatened today,” he said.

“It is up to the parish to make it possible, and in a certain sense easy and spontaneous for every person and family, to participate in the life of the Church,” the Pontiff continued.

He reminded the Italian bishops that parishes “represent in a certain sense the visible Church established throughout the earth.”

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