Pope: The joy of family continues even in difficulties
By Edoardo Giribaldi
"Being a family is a joyous gift that inspires gratitude," Pope Francis said in his address to the Family Association forum, thanking its members for giving a proper voice to Italian families. "Not a complaining voice, but a propositive one. Not ideological, but capable of interpreting the needs" of larger families, which are often "unfairly penalized."
Pope Francis started by recognizing in the association members the "testimony of the joy of being a family," which is also the core message of his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia. It is a happiness that doesn't correspond to a reality where everything is fine, without any problems. "We all know that family life is made of serene periods and others much more difficult," the Pope said. "However, there is a joy that can run through all these situations, because it lies at a deeper level, and that comes precisely from being family, perceived as a gift, with an intimate sense of gratitude."
There is not, according to the Pope, a standard model of family that everyone will follow. Instead, "every family has its own path and history, as does every person." There are many households, he continued, in which each member seeks to go forward, not by following a worldly model, but by embracing a "style" of simplicity and of service.
Politics with and for families
Another aspect that Pope Francis addressed and encouraged is the need for "good politics, with families and for the families." He exhorted the participants to apply an open and comprehensive approach, seeking the "common good."
A Christian family, said the Pope, can't get wrapped up in its own world. "You cannot say, 'We are good; the others will figure it out by themselves.'" The qualities of a Christian household reside in its being open, welcoming, and supportive, starting in its own neighborhood. "A family is called to be a factor of fraternity and social friendship, rooted in a territory and, at the same time, open to the world."
Pope Francis noted the need for a political commitment aimed at bringing up themes related to childbearing in political agendas. "Don't limit yourselves to merely denouncing an issue. That would be too easy. Try to follow its development and bring realistic and documented proposals to the table".
The Pope invited people to take care of themselves "as couples and as families," encouraging them to set time apart for prayer, dialogue, and community life within the Church. “Also, take some time to play with your children.”
Pope Francis concluded his address by reflecting on the demographic decline that Italy is experiencing. “We have to react, with our work and our ideas. We need children.”
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