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Pope’s Letter for World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia

“In reality, we cannot qualify a family with ideological concepts; we cannot speak of a conservative family and a progressive family. The family is family!”

Pope Francis has shared his enthusiasm about the World Meeting of Families in September, which will bring about his first apostolic visit to North America.

In a letter the Holy Father sent to the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Cardinal Vincenzo Paglia, in view of the 8th World Meeting of Families, to be held in Philadelphia from Sept. 22-27, 2015, on the theme: “Our Mission Is Love. The Fully Alive Family,” he noted his plans to participate.

Here is a translation of the letter:

* * *

To the Venerable Brother Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia

President of the Pontifical Council for the Family

At the end of the 7th World Meeting of Families, Pope Benedict XVI announced that the city of Philadelphia, in the United States of America, would host the next gathering. I have confirmed this choice on many occasions, looking with confidence and hope to this event of grace in which, God willing, I will take part. It will be held from September 22-27, 2015, and will have as its theme ”Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.”

Today, as yesterday, the mission of the Christian family is to proclaim, with the strength of the nuptial Sacrament, the love of God to the world. Born and built from this announcement itself is a living family, which puts the hearth of love at the center of all its human and spiritual dynamism. If, as Saint Irenaeus said: “Gloria Dei vivens homo”  [“The glory of God is the living man …”] (Adv. Haer., IV, 20, 7), a family also, which with the Lord’s grace lives its vocation and mission in fullness, renders glory to Him.

Recently we held the Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on The Pastoral Challenges Involving the Family in the Context of Evangelization.”In the sign of synodality we identified the most urgent topics involving the family in our pluralistic society. In reality, “we cannot qualify a family with ideological concepts; we cannot speak of a conservative family and a progressive family. The family is family!” (Address to the Participants in the International Colloquium on the Complementarity between Man and Woman, November 17, 2014). The values and virtues of the family, its essential truths, are the strong points on which the family nucleus is supported and they cannot be questioned. Instead, we are called to look again at our lifestyle, which is always exposed to the risk of being “contaminated” by a worldly mentality — individualist, consumerist, hedonist – and to rediscover the highroad to live and propose the grandeur and beauty of matrimony and the joy of being and making a family.

The indications of the Final Report of the recent Synod, and those guiding the way to the next Ordinary Assembly of October 2015, invite us to continue in the commitment to proclaim the Gospel of Matrimony and the Family and to experience the pastoral proposals in the social and cultural context in which we live. The challenges of this context stimulate us to widen the spaces of faithful love open to life, to communion, to mercy, to sharing and to solidarity. Therefore, I exhort spouses, priests and parish communities, as well as Movements and Associations, to allow themselves to be guided by the Word of God, on which the foundations rest of the holy edifice of the family, domestic Church and family of God (cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, 6, 11).

I express my appreciation to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for its generous availability and organizational commitment placed at the service of the universal Church and of families of various Continents. I ask the Lord to recompense, henceforth, that beloved particular Church with abundant heavenly graces.

While I invoke the intercession of the Virgin of Guadalupe and of Aparecida, I impart to you, dear Brother, and to the collaborators of that Dicastery my heartfelt Apostolic Blessing, which I gladly extend to all those collaborating in the preparation of the Meeting and, please, I ask you to pray for me.

Fraternally,

FRANCISCUS

From the Vatican, December 9, 2014

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]

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