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The Family Spirit

Catechesis by Pope Francis on the Family
General Audience, Wednesday 7 October 2015 - in Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Just a few days ago the Synod of Bishops opened on the theme: “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world”. The family that walks in the way of the Lord is fundamental to the witness of God’s love and therefore deserves all the dedication the Church is capable of. The Synod is called to interpret this concern and this attention of the Church for the present. Let us accompany the entire path of the Synod first of all with our prayer and our interest. In this period the catecheses reflection will draw inspiration from certain aspects of the relationship — which we might well call indissoluble! — between the Church and the family, whose horizon is open to the good of the entire Christian community.

An attentive look at the everyday life of today’s men and women immediately shows the omnipresent need for a healthy injection of “family spirit”. Indeed, the form of the relationship — civil, economic, juridical, professional, civic — seems quite rational, formal, organized, but also very “dehydrated”, arid, anonymous. At times it becomes unbearable. While seeking to be inclusive in its forms, in reality it abandons more and more people to loneliness and discards them.

This is why, for the whole of society, the family opens a much more human prospect: it opens its sons and daughters’ eyes — and not only sight but also all the other senses — to life, representing a vision of the human relationship built on the free covenant of love. The family posits the need for the bonds of loyalty, sincerity, trust, cooperation and respect. It encourages its members to plan an inhabitable world and belief in trusting relationships, even in difficult conditions; it teaches them to honour one’s word, to respect each individual, to share within one’s personal limitations and those of others. We are all aware of the irreplaceable attention of the family for the littlest, most vulnerable, most wounded, and even the most debilitated members, in living their lives. In society, those who practice these attitudes have assimilated them from the family spirit, certainly not through competition and the desire for self-fulfillment.

Well, although knowing all this, the family is not accorded due importance — or recognition, or support — in the political and economic organization of contemporary society. Furthermore, I would like to say: not only does the family not receive adequate recognition, but it no longer engenders learning! At times it might be said that, with all its science, its technology, modern society is no longer able to translate this knowledge into better forms of civil coexistence. Not only is the organization of ordinary life increasingly thwarted by a bureaucracy completely irrelevant to fundamental human bonds but, even social and political customs often show signs of degradation — aggressiveness, vulgarity, contempt — which are well below the threshold of even a minimal family education. In such circumstances, the opposite extremes of this abasement of relationships — namely technocratic obtuseness and amoral familism — join and incite each other. This is a paradox.

The Church identifies today, at this exact point, the historical meaning of her mission with regard to the family and to the authentic family spirit: beginning from a careful review of life, which examines itself. One could say that the “family spirit” is a constitutional charter for the Church: this is how Christianity must appear, and this is how it must be. It is written in bold characters: “you who were far off” — St Paul says — [...] are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Eph 2:17, 19). The Church is and must be the family of God.

Jesus, when he called Peter to follow him, told him that he would make him a “fisher of men”; and for this reason a new type of net is needed. We should say that today families are one of the most important nets for the mission of Peter and of the Church. This is not a net that takes one prisoner! On the contrary, it frees people from the cruel waters of abandonment and indifference, which drown many human beings in the sea of loneliness and indifference. Families know well the feeling of dignity conferred by being sons and daughters and not slaves, nor strangers, not just a number on an identity card.

From here, from the family, Jesus resumes his passage among human beings to persuade them that God has not forgotten them. From here Peter draws the strength for his ministry. From here the Church, obeying the Teacher’s word, puts out to fish in the deep waters, certain that, if she does so, the catch will be miraculous. May the enthusiasm of the Synod Fathers, enlivened by the Holy Spirit, foster the impetus of a Church that abandons the old nets and puts out again to fish, trusting in the word of her Lord. Let us pray earnestly for this! Christ, after all, promised and encourages us: even if bad fathers do not deny their hungry children bread, how much more will God give the Spirit to those who — imperfect as they are — ask him with fervent persistence (cf. Lk 11:9-13)!"


"Je suis heureux d’accueillir les pèlerins de langue française venant de France et de Suisse. Je salue chaleureusement toutes les familles, particulièrement les familles de réfugiés venant d’Irak, présentes à cette audience. Je vous invite à accompagner de votre prière et de votre attention les travaux du synode ! Que Dieu vous bénisse !

[Sono lieto di accogliere i pellegrini di lingua francese provenienti dalla Francia e dalla Svizzera. Saluto calorosamente tutte le famiglie, particolarmente quelle dei rifugiati venuti dall’Iraq presenti a questa Udienza. Vi invito ad accompagnare e sostenere con la vostra preghiera i lavori del Sinodo. Che Dio vi benedica!]

I offer an affectionate greeting to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Scotland, Ireland, the Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, the Netherlands, Norway, Nigeria, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Canada and the United States. I ask you to continue to pray for the Synod on the Family, and to recommit your families to Christ. May you always be witnesses to his mercy and love in the world. God bless you all!

[Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini di lingua inglese presenti a questa Udienza, specialmente quelli provenienti da Inghilterra, Scozia, Irlanda, Isole Far-Oer, Gibilterra, Paesi Bassi, Norvegia, Nigeria, Indonesia, Giappone, Malesia, Filippine, Canada e Stati Uniti. Vi chiedo di continuare a pregare per il Sinodo sulla famiglia e di riaffidare le vostre famiglie a Cristo. Possiate esseri i testimoni del Suo amore e della Sua misericordia nel mondo. Dio vi benedica tutti!]

Herzlich heiße ich die Besucher deutscher Sprache willkommen. Insbesondere begrüße ich die Pilger aus dem Bistum Münster, die Schulgruppe des Gymnasiums Schloss Neuhaus in Paderborn und die Messdiener aus dem Erzbistum Köln sowie die Jugendlichen, die an der Informationswoche der Schweizergarde teilnehmen. Am heutigen Rosenkranzfest vertrauen wir die Familien der Jungfrau Maria an, der Königin der Familie, und ich lade euch ein, die Bischofssynode mit eurem Gebet zu begleiten. Der Herr segne euch alle.

[Con affetto do il benvenuto ai visitatori di lingua tedesca. Saluto in particolare i pellegrini della Diocesi di Münster, gli allievi del liceo Schloss Neuhaus di Paderborn e i ministranti dell’Arcidiocesi di Colonia, nonché i giovani venuti per la settimana di informazione della Guardia Svizzera. Nell’odierna festa della Madonna del Rosario affidiamo le famiglie a Maria, Regina della famiglia, e vi invito ad accompagnare il Sinodo dei Vescovi con la preghiera. Il Signore vi benedica tutti.]

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los venidos de España y Latinoamérica. Invito a todos a invocar la intercesión de Nuestra Señora del Rosario por los trabajos del Sínodo. Muchas gracias.

[Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini di lingua spagnola, in particolare quelli venuti dalla Spagna e dall’America latina. Invito tutti a invocare l’intercessione di Nostra Signora del Rosario per i lavori del sinodo. Molte grazie.]

Saúdo os peregrinos de língua portuguesa, particularmente os fiéis da paróquia da Graça. Unidos na oração pelo Sínodo dos Bispos, faço votos de que a vossa peregrinação a Roma fortaleça, no amor divino, os vínculos de cada um com a sua família, com a comunidade eclesial e com a sociedade. Que Nossa Senhora vos acompanhe e proteja!

[Saluto i pellegrini di lingua portoghese, in particolare i fedeli della parrocchia della Graça. Uniti nella preghiera per il Sinodo dei Vescovi, auguro che il vostro pellegrinaggio a Roma rafforzi, nell’amore divino, i vincoli di ciascuno con la propria famiglia, con la comunità ecclesiale e con la società. La Madonna vi accompagni e vi protegga. ]

أُرحّبُ بالحجّاجِ الناطقينَ باللغةِ العربيّة، وخاصةً بالقادمينَ من الشرق الأوسط، ونخُصّ بالذكر عددًا من اللاجئين العراقيّين الحاضرين معنا هنا اليوم. أيّها الإخوةُ والأخواتُ الأعزّاء، لنصلِّ لكي يعرف آباء السينودس أنْ يستقوا من كنز التقليد الحيّ كلمات تعزية وتوجيهات رجاء من أجل العائلات المدعوّة لبناء مُستقبل الجماعة الكنسيّة. ليبارككُم الربّ!

[Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua araba, in particolare a quelli provenienti dal Medio Oriente e in modo specialeal gruppo di rifugiati iracheni presenti qui oggi con noi. Cari fratelli e sorelle, preghiamo perché i Padri sinodali sappiano attingere dal tesoro della viva tradizione parole di consolazione e orientamenti di speranza per le famiglie chiamate a costruire il futuro della comunità ecclesiale. Il Signore vi benedica!]

Serdecznie pozdrawiam polskich pielgrzymów. W sposób szczególny witam liczną grupę pracowników i wolontariuszy Caristas Diecezji Koszalińsko-Kołobrzeskiej, jak również zakonników i zakonnice, którzy w różnych stronach świata prowadzą duszpasterstwo polskiej emigracji. Kochani, jednoczy was duch wiary i miłości Chrystusa, którego z zaangażowaniem usiłujecie nieść wszystkim, którzy potrzebują waszego materialnego i duchowego wsparcia. Matce Bożej Różańcowej, patronce dnia dzisiejszego, zawierzam was i tych, którym służycie. Jej matczyna opieka niech będzie dla was źródłem pokoju i siły. Niech Bóg błogosławi wszystkich was tu obecnych i waszych najbliższych.

[Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini polacchi. In particolare do il benvenuto al folto gruppo degli operatori e dei volontari della Caritas della Diocesi di Koszalin-Kolobrzeg, nonché i religiosi e le religiose che in varie parti del mondo svolgono la pastorale dei migranti polacchi. Carissimi, vi unisce lo spirito di fede e di amore di Cristo che con impegno cercate di portare a tutti quelli che hanno bisogno del vostro sostegno materiale e spirituale. Alla Madonna del Rosario, Patrona della giornata odierna, affido voi e tutti coloro che servite. La Sua materna assistenza sia fonte di serenità e di forza. Dio benedica tutti voi qui presenti e i vostri cari.]

S láskou vítam slovenských pútnikov, osobitne  farské skupiny.
Drahí bratia a sestry, Cirkev si dnes v liturgii pripomína Pannu Máriu Ružencovú. Podľa príkladu svätého Jána Apoštola prijmite ju aj vy do svojích domovov a dajte jej priestor vo vašom každodennom živote.
Všetkých vás žehnám.

[Con affetto do il benvenuto ai pellegrini slovacchi, in particolare ai gruppi parrocchiali.
Cari fratelli e sorelle, la Chiesa oggi fa memoria della Beata Maria Vergine del Rosario. Sull’esempio di San Giovanni Apostolo anche voi accogliete Maria nelle vostre case e fateLe spazio nella vostra esistenza quotidiana.
A tutti voi la mia Benedizione.]

Szeretettel köszöntöm a magyar zarándokat, akik Budapestről és Gyulafehérvárról érkeztek, Tamás József segédpüspök kíséretében. Isten éltessen! Különösen is köszöntöm a Szépvíz kórus karmesterét és tagjait.
Holnap üljük meg Magyarok Nagyasszonya ünnepét. Az Ő közbenjárását kérve szívből adom Kedves Mindannyiotokra apostoli áldásomat.

[Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini ungheresi di Budapest e della Arcidiocesi di Alba Iulia, accompagnati dal Vescovo Mons. Giuseppe Tamás, Isten éltessen! Un saluto speciale porgo al maestro e ai membri del coro Sepviz.
Domani ricorre la festa della Magna Domina Hungarorum. Chiedendo la sua intercessione, vi imparto di cuore la Benedizione Apostolica.]

* * *

Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana. Saluto in modo particolare Mons. Vincenzo Paglia e i collaboratori del Pontificio Consiglio per la Famiglia, ringraziandoli per l’impegno nell’organizzazione dell’VIII° Incontro Mondiale delle famiglie a Filadelfia.

Sono lieto di accogliere i partecipanti al Corso promosso dai Missionari Verbiti e l’Associazione italiana delle famiglie con malati affetti dalla sindrome di Von Hippel-Lindau. Saluto il Corpo italiano di soccorso dell’Ordine di Malta; i militari di Caserta, Avellino e Napoli e i membri dell’Associazione italiana di Medicina Nucleare. Auguro a tutti che la visita presso le tombe degli Apostoli sia un’occasione per rinvigorire la gioia della fede.

Porgo un pensiero speciale ai giovani, agli ammalati e agli sposi novelli. Oggi celebriamo la memoria della Beata Vergine Maria del Rosario. Cari giovani, la speranza che abita il cuore di Maria vi infonda coraggio di fronte alle grandi scelte della vita; cari ammalati, la fortezza della Madre ai piedi della croce vi sostenga nei momenti più difficili; cari sposi novelli, la tenerezza materna di Colei che ha accolto nel grembo Gesù accompagni la nuova vita familiare che avete appena iniziato."

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