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The Door of Welcome

Catechesis by Pope Francis on the Family
General Audience, Wednesday 18 November 2015 - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
With this reflection we arrive at the threshold of the Jubilee, it’s close. The door is before us, not just the Holy Door, but another: the great door of the Mercy of God — and that is a beautiful door! — which embraces our penance, offering the grace of his forgiveness. The door is generously open, it takes a little courage on our part to cross the threshold. Each of us has burdensome things within ourselves. We are all sinners! Let us take advantage of this coming moment and cross the threshold of this mercy of God who never tires of forgiving, never tires of waiting for us! He watches us, he is always beside us. Take heart! Let us enter through this door!

From the Synod of Bishops, which we celebrated in the month of October, all families and the entire Church received great encouragement to meet at the threshold of this open door. The Church was encouraged to open her doors, to go out with the Lord to meet her sons and daughters on the path, at times uncertain, at times dismayed, in these difficult times. Christian families in particular were encouraged to open the door to the Lord who is waiting to enter, bringing his blessing and his friendship. And as the door of God’s mercy is always open, so too must the doors of our churches, our communities, our parishes, our institutions, our dioceses, be open, because this is how we can all go out to bring this mercy of God. The Jubilee signifies the great door of the mercy of God but also the small doors of our churches, open to allow the entrance of the Lord — or often the exit of the Lord — who is a prisoner of our structures, of our selfishness and of so many things.

The Lord never forces the door open; he too asks permission to enter. The Book of Revelation says: “I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (3:20). Let us imagine the Lord knocking at the door of our heart! In the last great vision of the Book of Revelation, the City of God is prophesied like this: “its gates shall never be shut by day”, which means for ever, because “there shall be no night there” (21:25). There are places in the world in which doors are not locked, there still are. But there are so many where armoured doors have become the norm. We must not give in to the idea that we must apply this system to our whole life, to the life of the family, of this city, of society, much less to the life of the Church. That would be terrible! An inhospitable Church, like a family closed off within itself, mortifies the Gospel and withers the world. No armoured doors in the Church, none! Completely open!

The symbolic management of “doors” — of thresholds, of passages, of borders — has become crucial. The door must protect, of course, but not reject. The door must not be forced but on the contrary, one asks permission, because hospitality shines in the freedom of welcoming, and dims in the arrogance of invasion. The door is frequently opened, in order to see if there is someone waiting outside, perhaps without the courage nor, perhaps, the strength to knock. How many people have lost faith, do not have the courage to knock at the door of our Christian heart, at the doors of our churches.... And they are there, they don’t have the courage, we have taken away trust: please, may this never happen. A door says many things about the house, and also about the Church. Tending the door requires careful discernment and, at the same time, must inspire great faith. I would like to pay a word of gratitude to all porters: of our condominiums, of civil institutions, of the Churches themselves. Often a porter’s acumen and courtesy can offer an image of humanity and of welcome to the entire house, right from the entrance. There is something to be learned from these men and women, who are watchmen at the places of encounter and welcome in the city of man! To all of you watchmen of so many doors, be they residential doors or church doors, many thanks! Always with a smile, always demonstrating the acceptance of that house, of that Church, so people feel happy and welcomed in that place.

In truth, we are well aware that we too are watchmen and servants of the Door of God, and what is the name of the door of God? Jesus! He lights up all of life’s doors for us, including those of our birth and of our death. He himself affirmed it: “I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (Jn 10:9). Jesus is the door that lets us go in and out. Because God’s sheepfold is a refuge, it isn’t a prison! The house of God is a refuge, it isn’t a prison, and the door is called Jesus! If the door is closed, we say: “Lord, open the door!”. Jesus is the door and lets us go in and out. Those who try to avoid the door are thieves: it’s curious, thieves always try to enter by another way, by the window, by the roof, but they avoid the door, because they have evil intentions, and they sneak into the sheepfold in order to deceive the sheep and take advantage of them. We must enter through the door and listen to Jesus’ voice: if we hear the tone of his voice, we are certain, we are saved. We can go in without fear and go out without danger. In this beautiful discourse Jesus also speaks of the gatekeeper, whose task is opening to the Good Shepherd (cf. Jn 10:2). If the gatekeeper hears the Shepherd’s voice, he opens and lets in all of the sheep that the Shepherd brings, all of them, including those lost in the wood, whom the Good Shepherd went to get back. The sheep are not chosen by the gatekeeper, they are not chosen by the parish secretary or parish administrator; the sheep are all called, they are chosen by the Good Shepherd. The gatekeeper — he too — obeys the Shepherd’s voice. Thus, we can well say that we must be like that gatekeeper. The Church is the gatekeeper of the house of the Lord, she is not the proprietor of the Lord’s house.

The Holy Family of Nazareth knows just what an open or closed door means, for those expecting a child, for those who have no shelter, for those who need to escape danger. Christian families make the threshold of their homes a great sign of the Door of the mercy and welcome of God. It is precisely how the Church will have to be recognized, in every corner of the earth: as the watchman of a God who knocks, as the welcome of a God who does not close the door in your face with the excuse that you are not part of the household. With this spirit let us approach the Jubilee: there will be the Holy Door, but there is the door of the great mercy of God. May there also be the door of our heart for all to receive God’s forgiveness and to give, in our turn, our forgiveness, welcoming all those who knock at our door."


"Je suis heureux d’accueillir les pèlerins de langue française. Je souhaite que vos familles fassent toujours du seuil de leurs maisons un signe de la Porte de la Miséricorde que Jésus ouvre à tous. Que Dieu vous bénisse !

[Sono lieto di accogliere i pellegrini di lingua francese. Vi auguro che le vostre famiglie facciano sempre delle loro soglie di casa un segno di quella Porta della Misericordia che Gesù apre a tutti. Dio vi benedica!]

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, including those from England and the United States of America. My special greeting goes to the El Shaddai prayer fellowship and the orthopaedic surgeons of the Ivins Society. Upon you and your families I invoke the Lord’s blessings of joy and peace. God bless you all!

[Saluto i pellegrini di lingua inglese presenti all’odierna Udienza, specialmente quelli provenienti dall’Inghilterra e dagli Stati Uniti d’America. Rivolgo un saluto particolare al gruppo di preghiera El Shaddai ed ai chirurghi della “Ivins Society”. Su tutti voi e sulle vostre famiglie invoco la gioia e la pace del Signore. Dio vi benedica!]

Rivolgo un cordiale saluto a tutti i pellegrini di lingua tedesca. Carissimi, una Chiesa inospitale e una famiglia rinchiusa su sé stessa mortificano il Vangelo e rendono arido il mondo. Lo Spirito Santo accompagni il vostro cammino con la sua luce.

[Einen herzlichen Gruß richte ich an alle Pilger deutscher Sprache. Liebe Freunde, eine ungastliche Kirche und eine in sich verschlossene Familie demütigen das Evangelium und verhärten die Welt. Der Heilige Geist begleite euch mit seinem Licht auf euren Wegen.]

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los grupos provenientes de España y Latinoamérica. Pidamos a la Sagrada Familia, que supo lo que significa encontrar una puerta cerrada, que ayude a los hogares cristianos a ser un signo elocuente de la Puerta de la Misericordia, que se abre al Señor que llama y al hermano que viene. Que Dios los bendiga.

[Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini di lingua spagnola, in particolare i gruppi provenienti dalla Spagna e dall'America Latina. Chiediamo alla Sacra Famiglia, che conobbe quello che significa trovare una porta chiusa, che aiuti le famiglie cristiane a essere un segno eloquente della Porta della misericordia, che si apre al Signore che chiama e al fratello che viene. Che Dio vi benedica.]

Queridos peregrinos de língua portuguesa, em particular os brasileiros de Belém, João Pessoa, Olinda e Recife, de coração vos saúdo e desejo que a vossa vinda a Roma se cumpra com o espírito do verdadeiro peregrino que, sabendo de não possuir ainda o Bem maior, põe-se a caminho decidido a procurá-Lo! Sabei que Deus Se deixa encontrar por quantos assim O desejam. Sobre vós e vossas famílias desçam, em abundância, as bênçãos do Senhor.

[Carissimi pellegrini di lingua portoghese, in particolare brasiliani di Belém, João Pessoa, Olinda e Recife, di cuore vi saluto e vi auguro che la vostra visita a Roma si compia con lo spirito del vero pellegrino, che, sapendo di non possedere ancora il Bene più grande, si mette in viaggio deciso a cercarLo. Sappiate che Dio si lascia trovare da quanti Lo desiderano in questo modo. Su di voi e sulle vostre famiglie scendano abbondanti benedizioni del Signore!]

أرحب بالحجاج الناطقين باللغة العربية، وخاصة بالقادمين من لبنان ومن سوريا! في يوبيل الرحمة، لتجعل ‏الأسر المسيحية من عتبة بيوتها علامة لباب رحمة الله ولاستقباله. كما ينبغي على كل كنيسة أن تكون شاهدة ‏لرحمة الآب السماوي الذي لا يقفل ابدا باب غفرانه أمام التائبين، ولا يعاملنا ابدا بحسب استحقاقاتنا ولكن ‏بحسب عظة رحمته ومحبته. ليبارككم الرب ويحرسكم ‏جميعا من ‏‏الشرير!‏‏‏‏

[Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua araba, in particolare a ‎quelli provenienti dal Libano e dalla Siria! Nel Giubileo della Misericordia, le ‎famiglie cristiane facciano della loro soglia di casa un segno della misericordia ‎e dell’accoglienza di Dio; e ogni Chiesa sia testimone della Misericordia del ‎ Padre celeste, che non chiude mai la porta del Suo perdono di fronte ai pentiti e ‎non ci tratta mai secondo i nostri meriti, ma secondo l’immensità della Sua ‎misericordia e del Suo amore. Il Signore vi benedica e vi protegga tutti dal ‎male!‎]

Serdecznie witam polskich pielgrzymów. Pozdrawiam szczególnie przedstawicieli Niezależnego Związku Zawodowego “Solidarność”. Od trzydziestu pięciu lat wasz Związek angażuje się na rzecz świata pracy, zarówno fizycznej, jak i intelektualnej, jak również na rzecz obrony podstawowych praw osoby i społeczeństw. Bądźcie wierni temu zaangażowaniu, aby interesy polityczne albo ekonomiczne nie były ważniejsze od wartości, które stanowią istotę ludzkiej solidarności. Zawierzam was i wszystkich członków Związku opiece waszego patrona, błogosławionego księdza Jerzego Popiełuszki, i z serca wam błogosławię. Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus!

[Do un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini polacchi. Saluto in particolare i rappresentanti del Sindacato Autonomo dei Lavoratori “Solidarnosc”. Da trentacinque anni il vostro Sindacato si impegna a favore del mondo del lavoro, sia fisico, che intellettuale, nonché per la tutela dei diritti fondamentali della persona e delle società. Siate fedeli a questo impegno, affinché gli interessi politici o economici non prevalgano sui valori che costituiscono l’essenza della solidarietà umana. Affido voi e tutti i membri del Sindacato alla protezione del vostro patrono, il beato don Jerzy Popieluszko, e vi benedico di cuore. Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!]


Dopodomani ricorrerà la Giornata mondiale dei diritti dell’infanzia. È un dovere di tutti proteggere i bambini e anteporre ad ogni altro criterio il loro bene, affinché non siano mai sottoposti a forme di servitù e maltrattamenti e anche a forme di sfruttamento. Auspico che la Comunità internazionale possa vigilare attentamente sulle condizioni di vita dei fanciulli, specialmente là dove sono esposti al reclutamento da parte di gruppi armati; come pure possa aiutare le famiglie a garantire ad ogni bambino e bambina il diritto alla scuola e all’educazione.

* * *

Il 21 novembre, poi, la Chiesa ricorda la Presentazione di Maria Santissima al Tempio. In tale circostanza ringraziamo il Signore per il dono della vocazione degli uomini e delle donne che, nei monasteri e negli eremi, hanno dedicato la loro vita a Dio. Affinché le comunità di clausura possano compiere la loro importante missione, nella preghiera e nel silenzio operoso, non facciamo mancare la nostra vicinanza spirituale e materiale.

Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana.

Sono lieto di accogliere i sacerdoti di Gubbio, accompagnati dal loro Vescovo, Mons. Ceccobelli.

Saluto l’Associazione Thalidomidici Italiani, i partecipanti al Convegno Nazionale promosso dall’Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, l’Associazione Love Bridges di Iglesias e l’Associazione Santa Maria della Strada di Messina.

In questo giorno, in cui celebriamo la Dedicazione delle Basiliche dei Santi Pietro e Paolo, auguro a tutti che la visita alle tombe degli Apostoli rafforzi la gioia della fede.

Porgo un pensiero speciale ai giovani, agli ammalati e agli sposi novelli. Cari giovani e studenti, in particolare di Afragola e di Roma, la testimonianza degli Apostoli, che hanno lasciato tutto per seguire Gesù, accenda anche in voi il desiderio di amarlo con tutte le forze e di seguirlo; cari ammalati, le gloriose sofferenze dei Santi Pietro e Paolo diano conforto e speranza alla vostra offerta; cari sposi novelli, le vostre case possano essere templi di quell’Amore da cui nessuno potrà mai separarci."

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