“The family, which you promote in various ways, is at the center of God’s plan, as shown in the whole history of salvation,” Pope Francis on June 16, 2018, told a delegation from the Forum of Family Associations on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of its founding.
“For a mysterious divine plan, the complementarity and love between man and woman make them co-workers of the Creator, Who entrusts them with the task of generating new creatures to life, taking care of their growth and education,” the Holy Father continued. “The love of Jesus for children, His filial relationship with the heavenly Father, His defence of the conjugal bond, which He declares sacred and indissoluble, fully reveal the place of the family in God’s plan: being the cradle of life and the first place of acceptance and love, it has an essential role in the vocation of man, and it is like a window that opens up on the mystery of God Himself, Who is Love in the unity and trinity of Persons.”
Address of the Holy Father
Dear brothers and sisters,
I welcome you and address an affectionate greeting to you and to your president, whom I thank for his words. This meeting allows me to get to know your entity, the Family Forum, founded twenty-five years ago. It brings together more than five hundred associations, and it is truly a network that highlights the beauty of communion and the power of sharing. It is a particular “family of families”, of an associative kind, through which you experience the joy of living together and at the same time you take on the commitment of making your effort for the common good, which you build every day both within the scope of the forum, and in the broader one of society.
The family, which you promote in various ways, is at the center of God’s plan, as shown in the whole history of salvation. For a mysterious divine plan, the complementarity and love between man and woman make them co-workers of the Creator, Who entrusts them with the task of generating new creatures to life, taking care of their growth and education. The love of Jesus for children, His filial relationship with the heavenly Father, His defence of the conjugal bond, which He declares sacred and indissoluble, fully reveal the place of the family in God’s plan: being the cradle of life and the first place of acceptance and love, it has an essential role in the vocation of man, and it is like a window that opens up on the mystery of God Himself, Who is Love in the unity and trinity of Persons.
Our world, often tempted and guided by individualistic and selfish logic, often loses the sense and beauty of stable bonds, of commitment to people, of care without conditions, of the assumption of responsibility towards of the other, of gratuity and of the gift of the self. For this reason, it is difficult to understand the value of the family, and we end up conceiving of it according to the same logic that privileges the individual instead of relationships and the common good. And this, despite the fact that in the last years of economic crisis the family has represented the most powerful social shock absorber, able to redistribute resources according to the needs of each person.
On the contrary, full recognition and adequate support for the family should represent the first interest of the civil institutions, called to encourage the establishment and growth of solid and serene families, who take responsibility for the education of their children and take care of situations of weakness. In fact, those who learn to experience authentic relationships within the family will be more able to form them in larger contexts too, from school to the world of work; and those who practice respect and service at home can better practice them in society and in the world.
Now, the goal of stronger support for families and of according them their appropriate value must be achieved through tireless work of raising awareness and of dialogue. This is the effort that the Forum has been making for twenty-five years, in which you have implemented a great number of initiatives, establishing a relationship of trust and collaboration with the Institutions. I urge you to continue this work by being promoters of proposals that show the beauty of the family, and that almost compel, by being convincing, recognition of its importance and preciousness.
I, therefore, encourage you to witness the joy of love, which I illustrated in the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, where I gathered the fruits of the providential synodal journey on the family accomplished by the whole Church. In fact, there is no better argument than the joy which, by shining from within, proves the value of ideas and experience and indicates the treasure we have discovered and wish to share.
So, moved by this force, you will be increasingly able to take the initiative. The Apostle Paul reminds Timothy that “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Tim 1: 7). Such is the spirit that animates you too, teaching you respect but also the boldness to get involved and look for new roads, without fear. It is the style I asked of the whole Church from my first and programmatic Apostolic Exhortation, when I used the term primerear, to proceed, which suggests the ability to go forth bravely to meet others, not to close oneself in one’s own comfort but to seek points of convergence with people, to build bridges by going to find the good wherever it is (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 24). God is the first to precede us: if we have really known him, we can not hide it, but must go out and act, using our talents.
Thank you for making the effort to do so! Thank you for your commitment, as required by your Statute, to an “active and responsible participation of families in cultural, social and political life” (2.1.b.), and for the “promotion of appropriate family policies that protect and support the functions of the family and its rights” (2.1.c.). Furthermore, in the school, you continue to encourage greater parental involvement and encourage many families to adopt a style of participation. Do not tire of supporting the growth of birth rates in Italy, sensitizing the institutions and the public opinion on the importance of giving life to policies and structures that are more open to the gift of children. It is a genuine paradox that the birth of children, which constitutes the greatest investment for a country and the first condition of its future prosperity, often represents a cause of poverty for families, due to the lack of support they receive or the inefficiency of many services.
These and other problems must be faced with firmness and charity, demonstrating that the sensitivity that you carry forward with regard to the family is not to be labeled as confessional in order to be able to accuse it – wrongly – of partiality. It is based instead on the dignity of the human person and therefore can be recognized and shared by everyone, as happens when, also in institutional contexts, we refer to the “Family Factor” as an element of political and operational evaluation, a multiplier of human, economic and social wealth.
Thank you again for this meeting. I urge you to continue your commitment to the service of the family and of life, and I invoke God’s blessing and the protection of the Holy Family of Nazareth on all the members of the Forum. Please do not forget to pray for me.