FULL TEXT Pope Francis at World Meeting of Families "Forgiveness...heals every wound..." and "In marriage, Christ gives himself to you, so that you have the strength..." + VIDEO

Paul VI Hall
Wednesday, June 22, 2022
Dear families!
It is a joy for me to be here with you, after shocking events which, in recent times, have marked our lives: first the pandemic and now the war in Europe, which is added to other wars that afflict the human family.
I thank Cardinal Farrell, Cardinal De Donatis and all the collaborators of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life and of the Diocese of Rome, who with their dedication made this meeting possible.
I would also like to thank the families present, who have come from many parts of the world; and in particular those who gave us their testimony: heartfelt thanks! It is not easy to speak in front of such a large audience about your life, about the difficulties or the wonderful but intimate and personal gifts that you have received from the Lord. Your testimonies have acted as "amplifiers": you have given voice to the experience of many families in the world, who, like you, live the same joys, anxieties, the same sufferings and hopes.
For this reason I now turn to both you present here and to the spouses and families who listen to us in the world. I would like to make you feel my closeness right where you are, in your concrete condition of life. My encouragement is above all precisely this: to start from your real situation and from there try to walk together: together as spouses, together in your family, together with other families, together with the Church. I think of the parable of the Good Samaritan, who meets a wounded man on the street, comes close to him, takes charge of him and helps him to resume his journey. I would like the Church to be just this for you! A good Samaritan who comes close, close to you and helps you to continue on your journey and to take "one more step", even if it is a small one. And don't forget that closeness is God's style: closeness, compassion and tenderness.
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 This is God's style. I try to indicate these "extra steps" to take together, taking up the testimonies we have heard.
1. “One more step” towards marriage. I thank you, Luigi and Serena, for having told your experience with great honesty, with its difficulties and aspirations. I think what you have said is painful for everyone: "We have not found a community that would support us with open arms for who we are". This is hard! This must make us reflect. We must convert and walk as a welcoming Church, so that our dioceses and parishes become more and more "communities that support everyone with open arms". There is so much need, in this culture of indifference! And you, providentially, have found support in other families, which in fact are small churches.
I was very consoled when you explained the reason that prompted you to have your children baptized. You said a very beautiful phrase: “Despite the noblest human efforts, we are not enough”. It is true, we can have the most beautiful dreams, the highest ideals, but in the end we also discover our limits - it is wisdom to know our limits - these limits that we do not overcome alone but by opening ourselves to the Father, to his love, to his. grace. This is the meaning of the sacraments of Baptism and Marriage: they are the concrete help that God gives us in order not to leave us alone, because "we are not enough". That sentence, it did so much good to hear it: “We are not enough”.
We can say that when a man and a woman fall in love, God offers them a gift: marriage. A wonderful gift, which contains the power of divine love: strong, lasting, faithful, capable of recovering from any failure or fragility. Marriage is not a formality to be fulfilled. You don't get married to be Catholics "with etiquette", to obey a rule, or because the Church says so or to have a party; no, we get married because we want to found marriage on the love of Christ, who is solid as a rock. In marriage, Christ gives himself to you, so that you have the strength to give each other. Courage, therefore, family life is not an impossible mission! With the grace of the sacrament, God makes it a wonderful journey to take with Him, never alone. The family is not a beautiful ideal, unattainable in reality. God guarantees his presence in marriage and in the family, not only on the wedding day but throughout his life. And He supports you every day on your journey.
2. “One more step” to embrace the cross. I thank you, Roberto and Maria Anselma, for telling us the moving story of your family and in particular of Chiara. You spoke to us about the cross, which is part of the life of every person and every family. And you have testified that the hard cross of Chiara's illness and death did not destroy the family and did not eliminate serenity and peace from your hearts. It can also be seen in your eyes. You are not downcast, desperate and angry with life. On the contrary! A great serenity and a great faith are perceived in you. You said: "Chiara's serenity has opened a window to eternity for us". Seeing how she experienced the trial of the disease helped you to look up and not to remain prisoners of pain, but to open yourselves to something greater: the mysterious designs of God, eternity, Heaven. I thank you for this testimony of faith! You also quoted that phrase that Chiara used to say: "God puts the truth in each of us and it is not possible to misunderstand it". In Clare's heart God placed the truth of a holy life, and therefore she wanted to preserve the life of her child at the cost of her own life. And as her wife, alongside her husband, she walked the path of the Gospel of the family in a simple, spontaneous way. The truth of the cross also entered into Chiara's heart as a gift of self: a life of her given to her family, to the Church, to the whole world. We always need great examples to look to: may Clare be an inspiration in our journey of holiness, and may the Lord sustain and make fruitful every cross that families find themselves carrying.
3. “One more step” towards forgiveness. Paul and Germaine, you have had the courage to tell us about the crisis you experienced in your marriage. We thank you for this, because in every marriage there are crises: we must tell ourselves, we must reveal it and go on the road to resolve it. You didn't want to sweeten reality with a little sugar! You have called all the causes of the crisis by name: lack of sincerity, infidelity, the wrong use of money, the idols of power and career, growing rancor and hardening of the heart. While you were talking, I think that we all relived the experience of pain felt in the face of similar situations of divided families. Seeing a family that falls apart is a drama that cannot leave us indifferent. The smile of the spouses disappears, the children are lost, everyone's serenity vanishes. And most of the time you don't know what to do.
This is why your story conveys hope. Paul said that, in the very darkest moment of the crisis, the Lord responded to the deepest desire of his heart and saved his marriage. That's it. The desire that is in the depths of everyone's heart is that love does not end, that the history built together with the loved one does not stop, that the fruits it has generated do not go lost. Everyone has this desire. Nobody wants a "short term" or "fixed term" love. And this is why we suffer a lot when shortcomings, negligence and human sins make a marriage wreck. But even in the midst of the storm, God sees what is in the heart. And providentially you have met a group of lay people who are dedicated precisely to families. There began a journey of rapprochement and the healing of your relationship. You have resumed talking to each other, opening yourselves sincerely, recognizing sins, praying together with other couples, and all this has led to reconciliation and forgiveness.
Forgiveness, brothers and sisters, forgiveness heals every wound; forgiveness is a gift that flows from the grace with which Christ fills the couple and the whole family when you let him act, when you turn to him. It is very nice that you celebrated your "feast of forgiveness" with your children , renewing the marriage vows in the Eucharistic celebration. It made me think of the feast that the father organizes for the prodigal son in the parable of Jesus (cf. Lk 15: 20-24). Only this time it was the parents who got lost, not the child! The "prodigal parents". But this too is beautiful and can be a great witness for children. The children, in fact, coming out of infancy, realize that their parents are not "super heroes", they are not omnipotent, and above all they are not perfect. And your children have seen something much more important in you: they have seen the humility to ask for forgiveness and the strength you received from the Lord to lift you up from the fall. They really need this! In fact, they too will make mistakes in life and discover that they are not perfect, but they will remember that the Lord raises us up, that we are all forgiven sinners, that we must ask for forgiveness from others and we must also forgive ourselves. This lesson they have received from you will remain in their hearts forever. And it did us good to listen to you too: thank you for this testimony of forgiveness! Thank you very much.
4. "One more step" towards hospitality. I thank you, Iryna and Sofia, for your testimony. You have given a voice to so many people whose lives were turned upside down by the war in Ukraine. We see in you the faces and the stories of so many men and women who had to flee their land. We thank you because you have not lost faith in Providence, and you have seen how God works in your favor also through concrete people that he has brought you to meet: hospitable families, doctors who have helped you and many men with a good heart. The war has confronted you with cynicism and human brutality, but you have also met people of great humanity. The worst and the best of man! It is important for everyone not to remain fixated on the worst, but to value the best, the great good of which every human being is capable, and from there to start again.
I also thank you, Pietro and Erika, for telling your story and for the generosity with which you welcomed Iryna and Sofia into your already large family. You confided to us that you did it out of gratitude to God and with a spirit of faith, as a call from the Lord. Erika said the welcome was a "blessing from heaven". In fact, hospitality is a "charisma" of families, and especially of large ones! It is thought that in a house where there are already many it is more difficult to welcome others; however, in reality this is not the case, because families with many children are trained to make room for others. They always find a space for others.
And this, after all, is the dynamics of the family. The family experiences a dynamic of welcome, because first of all the spouses welcomed each other, as they said to each other on their wedding day: "I welcome you". And then, by giving birth to their children, they welcomed the life of new creatures. And while in anonymous contexts those who are weaker are often rejected, in families, however, it is natural to welcome them: a child with a disability, an elderly person in need of care, a relative in difficulty who has no one ... And this gives hope. Families are places of welcome, and woe to them if they fail! Trouble. A society would become cold and unlivable without welcoming families. They are a bit of the warmth of society, these welcoming and generous families.
5. “One more step” towards brotherhood. Thank you, Zakia, for telling us your story. It is beautiful and comforting that what you and Luca have built together remains alive. Your story was born and was based on sharing very high ideals, which you described as follows: "We have based our family on authentic love, with respect, solidarity and dialogue between our cultures". And none of this has been lost, not even after Luca's tragic death. In fact, not only does Luke's example and spiritual heritage remain alive and speak to the conscience of many, but also the organization that Zakia founded, in a certain sense, carries on his mission. Indeed, we can say that Luke's diplomatic mission has now become a "peace mission" for the whole family. In your history it is clear how what is human and what is religious can intertwine and bear beautiful fruits. In Zakia and Luca we find the beauty of human love, the passion for life, altruism and also fidelity to one's belief and religious tradition, a source of inspiration and inner strength.
The ideal of brotherhood is expressed in your family. In addition to being husband and wife, you have lived as brothers in humanity, as brothers in various religious experiences, as brothers in social commitment. This is also a school that is learned in the family. Living together with those who are different from me, in the family we learn to be brothers and sisters. We learn to overcome divisions, prejudices, closures and to build something great and beautiful together, starting from what we have in common. Experienced examples of brotherhood, such as that of Luca and Zakia, give us hope and make us look more confidently at our world torn by divisions and enmities. Thank you for this example of brotherhood! And I wouldn't want to finish this memory of Luca and you without mentioning your mom. Your mom who is here and has always accompanied you on your journey: this is the good that mothers-in-law do in a family, good mothers-in-law, good mothers! Thank you for coming with you today.
Dear friends, each of your families has a mission to fulfill in the world, a witness to give. We the baptized, in particular, are called to be "a message that the Holy Spirit draws from the richness of Jesus Christ and gives to his people" (Exhortation Ap. Gaudete et exsultate, 21). This is why I propose to ask you this question: what is the word that the Lord wants to say with our lives to the people we meet? What “extra step” do you ask of our family today? To my family: everyone has to say this. Listen to yourselves. Allow yourselves to be transformed by him, so that you too can transform the world and make it "home" for those who need to be welcomed, for those who need to meet Christ and feel loved. We must live with our eyes turned towards Heaven: as the Blessed Maria and Luigi Beltrame Quattrocchi said to their children, facing the hardships and joys of life "always looking from the roof up".
Thank you for coming here. I thank you for the commitment in bringing your families forward. Forward, with courage, with joy. And please don't forget to pray for me.
Source: Vatican.va - Image Screenshot Vatican Media