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5) Siblings

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

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,
In our continuing catechesis on the family, after having considered the roles of the mother, the father, the children, today we shall reflect on siblings. “Brother” and “sister” are words that Christianity really loves. And, thanks to the family experience, they are words that all cultures and all times comprehend.

The fraternal bond holds a special place in the history of the People of God, who received his revelation at the core of the human experience. The Psalmist sings of the beauty of the fraternal bond: “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Ps 133[132]:1). And this is true, brotherhood is beautiful! Jesus Christ also brought to its fullness this human experience of being brothers and sisters, embracing it in Trinitarian love and thereby empowering it to go well beyond the ties of kinship and enabling it to surmount every barrier of extraneousness.

We know that when the fraternal relationship is destroyed, when the relationship between siblings is destroyed, the road is open to painful experiences of conflict, of betrayal, of hate. The biblical account of Cain and Abel is an example of this negative outcome. After the killing of Abel, God asks Cain: “Where is Abel your brother?” (Gen 4:9a). It is a question that the Lord continues to repeat to every generation. And unfortunately, in every generation, Cain’s dramatic answer never fails to be repeated: “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” (ibid., 4:9b). The rupture of the bond between siblings is a nasty, bad thing for humanity. In the family too, how many siblings quarrel over little things, or over an inheritance, and then they no longer speak to each other, they no longer greet one another. This is terrible! Brotherhood is a great thing, when we consider that all our brothers and sisters lived in the womb of the same mother for nine months, came from the mother’s flesh! Brotherhood cannot be broken. Let us consider: we all know families that have divided siblings, who have quarrelled; let us ask the Lord — perhaps in our family there are a few cases — to help these families to reunite their siblings, to rebuild the family. Brotherhood must not be broken and when it breaks, what happened to Cain and Abel occurs. When the Lord asks Cain where his brother is, he replies: “I do not know, my brother does not matter to me”. This is terrible, it is a very, very painful thing to hear. In our prayers let us always pray for siblings who are at odds.

Should the bond of fraternity which forms in the family between children arise in an educational atmosphere of openness to others, it is the great school of freedom and peace. In the family, among siblings, human coexistence is learned, how one must live in society. Perhaps we are not always aware of it, but the family itself introduces fraternity into the world! Beginning with this first experience of fraternity, nourished by affection and education at home, the style of fraternity radiates like a promise upon the whole of society and on its relations among peoples.

The blessing that God, in Jesus Christ, pours out on this bond of fraternity, expands in an unimaginable way. He renders it capable of overcoming all differences of nationality, language, culture and even religion.

Consider what becomes of the bond between men and women, even when completely different from each other, when they are able to say of another: “He is truly like a brother, she is just like a sister to me!”. This is beautiful! History has shown well enough, after all, that even freedom and equality, without brotherhood, can be full of individualism and conformism, and even personal interests.

Familial fraternity shines in a special way when we see the care, the patience, the affection that envelop the weakest little brother or sister, sick or physically challenged. There are countless brothers and sisters who do this, throughout the world, and perhaps we do not appreciate their generosity enough. And when there are many siblings in a family — today, I greeted a family that has nine children? — the eldest boy or girl helps the dad, the mom, to take care of the younger children. This work of helping among siblings is beautiful.

Having a brother, a sister, who loves you is a deep, precious, irreplaceable experience. Christian fraternity happens in the same way. The smallest, the weakest, the poorest soften us: they have the “right” to take our heart and soul. Yes, they are our brothers and sisters and as such we must love and care for them. When this happens, when the poor are like family members, our own Christian fraternity comes to life again. Christians, in fact, go to meet the poor and the weak not to obey an ideological programme, but because the word and the example of the Lord tell us that we are all brothers and sisters. This is the principle of God’s love and of all justice among men. I should like to suggest something: before concluding, just a few words, in silence each of us, let us think of our brothers, our sisters, and from our heart let us pray in silence for them. A moment of silence.

Here then, with this prayer we have brought all, brothers and sisters, with our thoughts, with our hearts, here to the Square to receive the blessing.

Today more than ever it is necessary to place fraternity back at the centre of our technocratic and bureaucratic society: then even freedom and equality will find the correct balance. Therefore, let us not thoughtlessly deprive our families, out of criticism or fear, of the beauty of a bountiful fraternal experience of sons and daughters. And let us not lose our trust in the broad horizon faith is able to draw from this experience, enlightened by God’s blessing."

"J’adresse un cordial salut aux pèlerins francophones, en particulier à la paroisse chaldéenne de Pontoise et aux nombreux jeunes. Alors que commence le temps du Carême, je vous invite à découvrir à nouveau la beauté de la fraternité, à la vivre et à la répandre autour de vous. Que Dieu vous bénisse !

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, including those from England, Japan and the United States of America. Upon you and your families I cordially invoke joy and peace in the Lord Jesus. God bless you all!

Sehr herzlich heiße ich die Pilger und Besucher deutscher und niederländischer Sprache willkommen. Insbesondere grüße ich die Gruppe der Studierenden des Kirchenrechts aus München und Augsburg sowie die Bruderschaft Unserer Lieben Frau aus Maastricht, begleitet von Bischof Frans Wiertz. Allen wünsche ich einen fruchtbaren Aufenthalt hier in Rom, der Stadt der Heiligen und Gläubigen aus aller Welt. Der Herr beschütze euch auf all euren Wegen.

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los numerosos jóvenes, así como a los grupos provenientes de España, Chile, Argentina y otros países latinoamericanos. Pidamos al Señor que en esta Cuaresma, que hoy iniciamos, bendiga a las familias y su generosa entrega. Que en ellas aprendamos a ser siempre hermanos. Muchas gracias.

Queridos peregrinos de língua portuguesa, sede bem-vindos! A todos vos saúdo, especialmente aos fiéis de Nogueiró e aos estudantes e professores do Agrupamento de Escolas de Viseu, encorajando-vos a apostar em ideais grandes, ideais de serviço que engrandecem o coração e tornam fecundos os vossos talentos. Confiai em Deus, como a Virgem Maria! De bom grado abençoo a vós e aos vossos entes queridos.

أتوجه بتحية قلبية للحجاج الناطقين باللغة العربية، وخاصة القادمين من الأراضي المقدسة ومن العراق ومن الشرق الأوسط. لقد أنار يسوع، بتجسده، الإخوة الإنسانية، وفتح افاقها لتشمل كل إنسان، لا سيما الأكثر احتياجا وعوزا. لقد أسس إخوة تتخطى اللون واللغة والثقافة، لتحتضن جميع البشر عندما علمنا أن ندعو الله "آبانا"‏‎!‎‏ ليبارككم الرب ويحرسكم جميعا من ‏ الشرير!

Witam serdecznie pielgrzymów polskich. W duchu dzisiejszej katechezy zachęcam was wszystkich raz jeszcze, byście pamiętali, że rodzina, wspólnoty osób złączonych przyjaźnią, parafie, środowiska pracy, to ważne miejsca umacniania braterskich więzi. Bogactwo waszych przyjaźni, dobre wzajemne relacje z ludźmi i troska o bliźnich, niech tak promieniują na innych, by dzięki waszemu doświadczeniu wzrastali w duchu ewangelicznej miłości, poświęcenia i solidarności z braćmi. Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus.

Srdečne vítam pútnikov zo Slovenska. Statoční obrancovia rodiny! Osobitne vítam zástupcov kresťanských laických hnutí a združení. Bratia a sestry, apoštol Pavol hovorí: „V mene Krista vás prosíme: zmierte sa s Bohom“. Na začiatku Pôstneho obdobia počujme toto pozvanie, ktoré je adresované každému z nás a ochotne ho nasledujme. S láskou vás žehnám. Pochválený buď Ježiš Kristus!

Щиро вітаю єпископів України, Слава Ісусу Христу! Які прибули з візитом ad limina. Це привітання скеровую також до паломників з усіх дієцезій, які їх супроводжують.
Брати і Сестри, знаю, що посеред багатьох намірень, в яких прагнете молитися біля гробів апостолів, є прохання про мир в Україні. В своєму серці я також маю таке прагнення і доєдную його до Ваших благань. Нехай якомога швидше настане очікуваний мир на Вашій Батьківщині. Нехай Бог Вас благословить!


Vorrei invitare ancora a pregare per i nostri fratelli egiziani che tre giorni fa sono stati uccisi in Libia per il solo fatto di essere cristiani. Il Signore li accolga nella sua casa e dia conforto alle loro famiglie e alle loro comunità.

Preghiamo anche per la pace in Medio Oriente e nel Nord Africa, ricordando tutti i defunti, i feriti e i profughi. Possa la Comunità internazionale trovare soluzioni pacifiche alla difficile situazione in Libia.

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Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana. In particolare saluto le Suore Catechiste Rurali del Sacro Cuore con l’Associazione “Zambia per la Vita” e il Presidio riabilitativo “Villa Maria” di Monticello Conte Otto. Il mio pensiero va ai giovani del Rinnovamento Carismatico Cattolico Internazionale, che oggi, in diverse parti del mondo, si raccolgono in preghiera per l’ora di adorazione eucaristica. Mi unisco spiritualmente a loro nell’esprimere apprezzamento per questa iniziativa ed auspico che le nuove generazioni possano andare sempre più incontro a Cristo.

Saluto i giovani, gli ammalati e gli sposi novelli. La Quaresima è un tempo favorevole per intensificare la vostra vita spirituale: la pratica del digiuno vi sia di aiuto, cari giovani, per acquisire padronanza su voi stessi; la preghiera sia per voi, cari ammalati, il mezzo per affidare a Dio le vostre sofferenze e sentirne la sua presenza amorevole; le opere di misericordia, infine, aiutino voi, cari sposi novelli, a vivere la vostra esistenza coniugale aprendola alle necessità dei fratelli.

Buona Quaresima a tutti!"

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