The First Latin American Congress on the Pastoral Care of the Family sponsored by the bishops of the region, is underway in Panama through Aug. 9.
With the theme “Family and social development for full life and missionary communion,” the congress is expected to be addressed this Thursday by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.
Below is a translation in English of the message sent by the Pope to the Congress:
Dear brothers and sisters,
I unite with all the participants in this first Latin American Congress for the Pastoral Care of the family, organized by CELAM and I congratulate you on this initiative in favour of a value so dear and important today for our peoples.
What is the family? Beyond its more pressing problems and its most urgent needs, the family is a “center of love,” where the law of respect and communion reigns, able to withstand the attacks of manipulation and dominance of the worldly “centers of power.” In the home, the person is integrated in a natural and harmonious way in a human group, overcoming the false opposition between the individual and society. Within the family, no one is discarded: both the elder and child are welcome. The culture of encounter and dialogue and openness to solidarity and transcendence have it in its cradle.
For this reason, the family is a great “social wealth” (cf. Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 44). In this sense, I would like to emphasize two primary contributions: stability and fertility.
We learn to live in the nuclear family based on loving relationships that are faithful unto death, such as that of a spouse, father, child and brother or sister. These relationships form the basic fabric of human society, when they are given cohesion and consistency. Because you cannot be part of a community that opens itself out to others, to feel close to one another, to take account of the most needy and most unfortunate, if the human heart were to shatter these relationships that provide basic security to man.
In addition, family love is fruitful, not only because it generates new lives, but also because it broadens the horizon of existence, creates a new world; makes us believe, against all despair and defeat, that a coexistence based on respect and trust is possible. Faced with a materialistic view of the world, the family does not reduce man to sterile utilitarianism, but channels his deepest desires.
Finally, I would like to tell you that, thanks to the founding of family love, man also grows in his openness to God as Father. For this, the Aparecida document indicates that the family should not only be considered the object of evangelization, but also an agent of evangelization (cf. nn. 432, 435). The family reflects the image of God, in his deepest mystery, and in this way allows you to see human love as a sign of God’s love and presence (Lumen fidei, 52). In the family, faith is mixed with maternal milk. For example, the simple and spontaneous gesture to ask for a blessing that is conserved in many of our peoples, encapsulates the biblical conviction that God’s blessing is passed on from father to son.
Aware that family love ennobles everything that man does, giving it an added value, it is important to encourage families to cultivate healthy relationships among its members, to know how to say to each other “forgive”, “thanks , ” ” please, “and turn to God with the beautiful name of” Father “.
May Our Lady of Guadalupe obtain from God abundant blessings for the families of America and make it the seed of life, harmony and a strong faith, nourished by the Gospel and by good works.
I ask you, please, to pray for me because I need it, fraternally.
Francisco[Original Text: Italian] [Translation by Vatican Radio]