Bookmark and Share


Catechesis by Pope Francis on the Family
General Audience, Wednesday 20 May 2015 - in Arabic, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Today, dear brothers and sisters, I would like to welcome you because I saw among you many families, Good morning to all the families! Let us continue to reflect on the family. Today we will pause to reflect on an essential characteristic of the family, the natural vocation to educate children so they may grow up to to be responsible for themselves and for others. What we heard from the Apostle Paul, at the start, is very beautiful: “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Col 3:20-21). This is a wise rule: children should be raised to listen to their parents and obey their parents, who, in turn, should not order them around in a negative way, so as not to discourage the children. Children, indeed, must grow without becoming discouraged, step by step. If you parents say to your children: “Let’s climb this ladder” and you take them by the hand and, step by step, help them climb, things will go well. But if you say: “Go up!” — “But I can’t” — “Go!”, this is called provoking your children, asking them to do things they don’t have the ability to do. That is why the relationship between parents and children must be one of wisdom, of a great balance. Children, obey your parents, this pleases God. And you parents, don’t provoke your children by asking of them things they can’t do. And this needs to be done so that children can grow up to be responsible for themselves and for others.

It would seem like an obvious statement, there are difficulties still in our times. It is hard to educate when parents only see their children in the evening, when they come home tired from work. Well, those who are fortunate enough to work! It is even more difficult for parents who are separated, who are weighed down by their condition: the poor dears, they have had real hardships, they have separated and frequently the child is taken hostage and the father speaks ill of the mother, and the mother speaks ill of the father, and so much harm is done. But I say to separated parents: never, never, never take your child hostage! You separated because of many difficulties and reasons, life has given you this trial, but the children should not be the ones to carry the weight of this separation, they should not be used as hostages against the other spouse, they should grow up hearing their mother speak well of their father, even though they are not together, and the father speak well of their mother. For separated parents this is very important and very difficult, but they can do it.

Above all, the question is: how should we educate? What tradition do we have today to pass on to our children?

Intellectual “critics” of every kind have silenced parents in countless ways, in order to protect the younger generations from the damage — real or presumed — of family education. The family stands accused, among other things, of being authoritarian, of favoritism, of conformism, of the emotional repression that generates conflict.

In fact, a rift has opened up between the family and society, between the family and school, the educational pact today has been broken; and thus, the educational alliance between society and the family is in crisis because mutual trust has been undermined. There are many symptoms. For example, at school relationships between parents and teachers have been compromised. At times there is tension and mutual distrust; and naturally, the consequences fall on the children. On the other hand, the number of so-called “experts” has multiplied, and they have assumed the role of parents in even the most intimate aspects of education. With regard to emotional life, personality and development, rights and duties, these “experts” know everything: objectives, motivations, techniques. And parents must simply listen, learn and adapt. Deprived of their role, they often become overly apprehensive and possessive of their children, to the point of never correcting them: “You cannot correct the child”. They tend to entrust them more and more to the “experts”, even in the most delicate and personal aspects of their lives, putting themselves alone in a corner; and thus parents today run the risk of excluding themselves from the lives of their children. And this is very grave! Today there are cases like this. I am not saying that it always happens, but there are cases. The teacher will admonish the child at school and send a note to the parents. I remember a personal anecdote. Once, when I was in the fourth grade, I said a bad word to the teacher and the teacher, being a good woman, called my mom. She came the next day, they spoke together, and then I was called. And my mother explained to me in front of the teacher that what I had done was bad, that I shouldn’t have done it; but my mother did it with such sweetness and she asked me to apologize to the teacher in front of her. I did it and then I was glad that I did: the story had a happy ending. But that was only the first chapter! When I got home, the second chapter began... Imagine today if a teacher were to do something of the kind, the next day the parents, or one of the two, would seek to admonish her, because the “experts” say that children should not be reproached like this. Things have changed! That is why parents should not exclude themselves from their children’s education.

It is clear that this approach is not good: it is not harmony, it is not dialogue, and rather than fostering cooperation between the family and other educational agencies, schools, gymnasiums... it counteracts it.

How did we get to this point? There is no doubt that parents or, better yet, certain past educational models had their limitations, there is no doubt. But it is also true that there are mistakes that only parents are allowed to make, because they can compensate for them in a way that is impossible for anyone else. On the other hand, as we well know, life has become stingy with the time for talking, reflecting and facing oneself. Many parents are “sequestered” by work — mom and dad have to work — and by worries, uncomfortable with the new needs of their children and with the complexity of modern life — which is the way it is and we must accept it as it is — and they find themselves as if paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake. The problem, however, is not just talking. Superficial “dialogue” does not lead to a true meeting of mind and heart. Let us ask instead: do we seek to understand “where” our children really are in their journey? Where is their soul, do we really know? And above all: do we want to know? Are we convinced that they, in reality, aren’t waiting for something else?

Christian communities are called to offer support to the educational mission of families, and they do this first of all with the light of the Word of God. The Apostle Paul recalls the reciprocity of duties between parents and children: “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Col 3:20-21). At the foundation of everything is love, that which God gives us, which “is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but ... bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13:5-7). Even the best families need support, and it takes a lot of patience to support one another! But such is life. Life is not lived in a laboratory, but in reality. Jesus himself experienced a family upbringing.

Also in this case, the grace of the love of Christ leads to the fulfillment of what is inscribed in human nature. How many astounding examples we have of Christian parents filled with human wisdom! They show that a good family upbringing is the backbone of humanity. Its radiance in society is the source that allows us to fill in the gaps, wounds and voids in parenthood that affect less fortunate children. This radiance can work real miracles. And in the Church these miracles happen every day!

I hope that the Lord bestows on Christian families the faith, freedom and courage necessary for their mission. If family education rediscovers the pride of its leadership, many things will change for the better, for uncertain parents and for disappointed children. It is time for fathers and mothers to return from their exile — for they have exiled themselves from their children’s upbringing — and to fully resume their educational role. We hope that the Lord gives this grace to parents: to not exile themselves from the education of their children. And this can only be done with love, tenderness and patience."

"Je salue cordialement les pèlerins de langue française, en particulier les groupes venus de Côte d’Ivoire et de France. Que le Saint-Esprit demeure sur vous et dans vos familles, et qu’il donne en particulier aux parents la foi, le courage et la liberté pour assumer leur mission éducative auprès de leurs enfants.
Que Dieu vous bénisse !

[Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini di lingua francese, in particolare i gruppi venuti dalla Costa d’Avorio e dalla Francia. Lo Spirito Santo dimori in voi e nelle vostre famiglie, e doni in particolare ai genitori la fede, il coraggio e la libertà per svolgere la loro missione educativa con i loro bambini.
Che Dio vi benedica!]

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, including those from Great Britain, Finland, Norway, South Africa, China, India, Korea, Canada and the United States of America. In a special way, I great these young musicians, you played well! Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke an abundance of joy and peace in the Lord Jesus. God bless you all!

[Saluto i pellegrini di lingua inglese presenti all’odierna Udienza, specialmente quelli provenienti da Gran Bretagna, Finlandia, Norvegia, Sud Africa, Cina, India, Corea, Canada e Stati Uniti d’America. In modo speciale saluto queste brave ragazze musiciste, avete suonato bene! Su tutti voi, e sulle vostre famiglie, invoco la gioia e la pace nel Signore. Dio vi benedica!]

Herzlich grüße ich die Brüder und Schwestern deutscher Sprache, die zur heutigen Audienz gekommen sind, besonders die Gläubigen der Pfarrei Sankt Franziskus in Schwenningen, die zu Fuß nach Rom gepilgert sind. In diesem Monat Mai vertrauen wir dem Schutz der Jungfrau Maria alle Eheleute und Familien an. Die Muttergottes helfe uns, die Familie in der Gesellschaft und in den Herausforderungen unserer Zeit zu fördern und zu unterstützen. Der Heilige Geist geleite euch auf euren Wegen.

[Saluto di cuore i fratelli e le sorelle di lingua tedesca presenti a quest’Udienza, in particolare i fedeli della Parrocchia San Francesco di Schwenningen, venuti a piedi in pellegrinaggio a Roma. In questo mese di maggio, affidiamo alla protezione della Vergine Maria tutti gli sposi e tutte le famiglie. La Madre di Dio ci aiuti a favorire e promuovere la famiglia nella società e nelle sfide del nostro tempo. Lo Spirito Santo vi accompagni nel vostro cammino.]

Saludo a los peregrinos de lengua española. En primer lugar, quiero saludar al nuevo Presidente del CELAM, el Cardenal de Bogotá, recientemente electo en la Asamblea. ¡Buen trabajo! También saludo a los fieles de la Archidiócesis de Toledo, acompañados por su Pastor, Mons. Braulio Rodríguez Plaza – saben hacer rumor ustedes, ¿eh? –, así como a los grupos venidos de España, México, Argentina, Panamá. Chile y otros países latinoamericanos. Pidamos al Señor que dé a los padres la confianza, la libertad y el valor necesarios para cumplir fielmente su misión educativa. Que Dios los bendiga. Muchas gracias.

[Saluto i pellegrini di lingua spagnola. In primo luogo, voglio salutare il nuovo presidente del Celam, il cardinale di Bogotá, recentemente eletto nell’Assemblea. Ottimo lavoro! Saluto inoltre i fedeli dell’arcidiocesi di Toledo, accompagnati dal loro Pastore, monsignor Braulio Rodríguez Plaza, — sapete far rumore eh? — così come i gruppi provenienti da Spagna, Messico, Argentina, Panama, Cile e altri Paesi dell’America Latina. Chiediamo al Signore di dare ai genitori la fiducia, la libertà e il coraggio di adempiere fedelmente la loro missione educativa. Dio vi benedica. Grazie mille.]

Saúdo cordialmente todos os peregrinos de língua portuguesa, especialmente os grupos vindos do Brasil, Cabo Verde e Portugal. Supliquemos a vinda do Espírito santo sobre todos os educadores, em particular os pais, para que, com o seu exemplo, ajudem os mais jovens a crescer em sabedoria, estatura e graça. Que Deus vos abençoe.

[Rivolgo un cordiale saluto a tutti i pellegrini di lingua portoghese, specialmente ai gruppi venuti dal Brasile, Capo Verde e Portogallo. Supplichiamo la venuta dello Spirito Santo su tutti gli educatori, in particolare i genitori, affinché aiutino, con il loro esempio, i più giovani a crescere in sapienza, età e grazia. Dio vi benedica!]

أُرحّبُ بالحجّاجِ الناطقينَ باللغةِ العربية، وخاصةً بالقادمينَ من الشرق الأوسط ولاسيما بالحجاج القادمين من فلسطين والأرض المقدّسة: إن الأب الأقدس يحمل لكم محبة خاصة وهو قريب منكم بالصلاة لكي يحلّ السلام في أرضكم. أيّها الإخوةُ والأخواتُ الأعزّاء، التربية العائليّة الصالحة هي العامود الفقري للـ "إنسانويّة". فليهب الرب العائلات المسيحيّة ما يلزم من إيمان وحريّة وشجاعة من أجل القيام برسالتها. ليبارككم الرب!

[Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua araba, in particolare a quelli provenienti dal Medio Oriente e in modo speciale quelli provenienti dalla Palestina e di Terra Santa: il Santo Padre porta per voi un amore speciale, vi sta vicino con la preghiera affinché la pace regni nella vostra terra. Cari fratelli e sorelle, la buona educazione famigliare è la colonna vertebrale dell’umanesimo! Il Signore doni alle famiglie cristiane la fede, la libertà e il coraggio necessari per la loro missione. Il Signore vi benedica!]

Serdecznie pozdrawiam polskich pielgrzymów. Dziś w sposób szczególny prosimy Matkę Jezusa i Jego uważną wychowawczynię, aby wszystkie dzieci znalazły w swoich rodzicach pełnych miłości mistrzów i przewodników, i by mogły „wzrastać w mądrości, w latach i w łasce u Boga i u ludzi”. Niech Pan błogosławi wam i waszym rodzinom! Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus!

[Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini polacchi. Oggi in modo particolare preghiamo la Madre di Gesù, Sua attenta educatrice, affinché tutti i bambini trovino nei loro genitori dei maestri guide piene di amore, e possano “crescere in sapienza, età e grazia davanti a Dio e agli uomini” (cf. Lc 2, 51). Il Signore benedica voi e le vostre famiglie! Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!]

S láskou pozdravujem slovenských pútnikov, osobitne z Jacoviec a Topoľčian, Nitry a okolia, ako aj žiakov Základnej školy z Michaloviec.
Bratia a sestry, budúcu nedeľu budeme sláviť sviatok Zoslania Ducha Svätého. Prosme Boha o zoslanie darov jeho Ducha, aby sme odvážne svedčili o Kristovi a jeho Evanjeliu. Všetkých vás zo srdca žehnám.

[Saluto con affetto i pellegrini slovacchi, particolarmente i gruppi parrocchiali e gli studenti di Michalovce.
Fratelli e sorelle, domenica prossima celebreremo la Solennità della Pentecoste. Preghiamo Dio che mandi i doni del suo Spirito perché possiamo divenire testimoni coraggiosi di Cristo e del suo Vangelo. Di cuore vi benedico tutti.]


Il 24 maggio, i cattolici in Cina pregheranno con devozione la beata Vergine Maria Aiuto dei Cristiani, venerata nel santuario di Sheshan a Shanghai. Nella statua, che sovrasta il Santuario, Maria sorregge in alto il suo Figlio, presentandolo al mondo con le braccia spalancate in gesto di amore e di misericordia. Anche noi chiederemo a Maria di aiutare i cattolici in Cina ad essere sempre testimoni credibili di questo amore misericordioso in mezzo al loro Popolo e a vivere spiritualmente uniti alla roccia di Pietro su cui è costruita la Chiesa.

La Conferenza Episcopale Italiana ha proposto che nelle Diocesi, in occasione della Veglia di Pentecoste, si ricordino tanti fratelli e sorelle esiliati o uccisi per il solo fatto di essere cristiani. Sono martiri. Auspico che tale momento di preghiera accresca la consapevolezza che la libertà religiosa è un diritto umano inalienabile, aumenti la sensibilizzazione sul dramma dei cristiani perseguitati nel nostro tempo e che si ponga fine a questo inaccettabile crimine.

* * *

Cari pellegrini di lingua italiana: benvenuti! Sono lieto di accogliere quanti partecipano al corso di formazione missionaria della Famiglia Pallottina, al corso promosso dalla Pontificia Facoltà di Scienze dell’Educazione Auxilium e all’Incontro di pace e cultura Matera-Altamura-Bari. Saluto gli ufficiali e militari dell’Esercito Italiano; le Associazioni e gli studenti, in particolare quelli delle scuole bulgare di diverse nazioni. Saluto i gruppi parrocchiali, specialmente i fedeli di Sparanise, che portano l’effige della Vergine Addolorata di Torello. La visita alle Tombe degli Apostoli accresca in voi la gioia pasquale della Resurrezione e vi predisponga a celebrare con fede la Solennità della Pentecoste.

Un particolare pensiero rivolgo ai giovani, agli ammalati e agli sposi novelli. Oggi celebriamo la memoria liturgica di San Bernardino da Siena. Il suo amore per l’Eucarestia indichi a voi, cari giovani, la centralità di Dio nella vostra vita; incoraggi voi ammalati ad affrontare con serenità i momenti di sofferenza e stimoli voi, cari sposi novelli, a fondare la vostra famiglia sull’amore di Dio."

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana