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Amoris laetitia year: Pope Francis says Church must defend the family

PopeFrancisSquarePoint.jpg Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square on Oct. 22, 2016. Credit: Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk.

Pope Francis on Friday encouraged Catholics to support and defend families by making an effort to be close to them in the struggles and joys of their daily lives.

In a video message for the start of the “Amoris Laetitia Family” year on March 19, the pope said “we are called to accompany, to listen, to bless the journey of families; not only to trace the direction, but to make the journey with them.”

It is not enough to just reiterate doctrine, he said. We are called “to enter homes with discretion and with love, to say to spouses: the Church is with you, the Lord is close to you, we want to help you keep the gift you have received.”

Pope Francis’ video message was played during a webinar entitled “Our Daily Love,” organized by the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life; the Diocese of Rome; and the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute.

The online conference marked the opening of a year dedicated to deepening the Church’s pastoral accompaniment of families, as outlined in Francis’ 2016 apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia.

In his message, the pope noted how important family ties have been during the coronavirus pandemic, even as families have been under extra pressure from the many challenges brought by the situation.

“So let’s support the family,” he urged. “Let’s defend it from what compromises its beauty. Let us approach this mystery of love with amazement, with discretion and tenderness.”

“And let us commit ourselves to safeguarding its precious and delicate bonds: children, parents, grandparents... These bonds are needed to live and to live well, to make humanity more fraternal,” he stated.

He encouraged Catholics to share the Gospel with families by accompanying them and helping them, so that they can respond to their vocation and mission with awareness of its beauty and its foundation in the love of the Trinity.

When a family lives its vocation well, it becomes a sign of God’s love for the world, he underlined.

“And in this context, the transmission of the faith between generations also takes place: it passes precisely through the language of good and healthy relationships that are lived in the family every day, especially when facing conflicts and difficulties together.”

Pope Francis emphasized the Church’s responsibility to help married spouses understand the “authentic meaning of their union and their love, a sign and image of Trinitarian love and of the covenant between Christ and the Church.”

Living this out is not easy, he noted, because the Gospel “is a demanding Word, which wants to free human relationships from the bondages which often disfigure their characters and make them unstable: the dictatorship of emotions, the exaltation of the provisional that discourages commitments for a lifetime, the predominance of individualism, fear of the future.”

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He said: “Faced with these difficulties, the Church reaffirms to Christian spouses the value of marriage as God’s plan, as the fruit of his grace and as a call to be lived totally, faithfully, and freely.”

“This is the path so that relationships, even if through a path marked by failures, falls and changes, open themselves to the fullness of joy and human fulfillment and become a leaven of fraternity and love in society.”

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