At the heart of Pope Francis’ greeting to participants in the 12th meeting of the “Teams of Our Lady” which is being held in Fatima from 16 to 21 July is the message that "The Church condemns sin, because she must tell the truth, but at the same time she embraces the sinner who recognizes himself as such”.
The “Teams of Our Lady”, also known by the acronym END, are a lay movement of conjugal spirituality that was established in France in 1938 on the initiative of a few couples and a priest, Father Henry Caffarel.
The original couples began to gather monthly to deepen their understanding of the Sacrament of Marriage and to seek a coherent way to integrate as couples and families into society.
The new movement was formalized in December 1947 and is currently present in the 5 continents, in 95 countries, with over 13,500 teams, under the guidance of Maria Berta and José Moura Soares.
It is to them that the Pope's message is addressed. Noting that the work of the conference is inspired by the figure of the prodigal son, the Pope exhorts those present to "recognize themselves in this lost son who returns to the Father who never tires of embracing him” and reaffirming him with love.
“This is how the Church behaves with sinners, offering them God's mercy” Pope Francis said.
He exhorted the participants in the gathering to open their hearts, to look within and recognize that they are sinners with the desire to be redeemed by the Lord.
Pope Francis noted that Christ's open arms on the cross "show that no one is excluded from the Father's love or from his mercy", since Jesus "does not resign himself to losing any of his children" and that He urges us to go out to seek them.