GENERAL AUDIENCE: On Papal Trip to Ireland

© Vatican Media

‘Young people and children must talk with grandparents to carry history forward. Please, don’t discard the grandparents’

After

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The Holy Father’s Catechesis

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Last weekend I undertook a trip to Ireland to take part in the World Meeting of Families. I’m sure you saw it on television. My presence was above all to confirm Christian families in their vocation and mission. The thousands of families — spouses, grandparents, children — gathered in Dublin, with all the variety of their languages, cultures and experiences, were an eloquent sign of the beauty of God’s dream for the whole human family. And we know it: God’s dream is unity, harmony and peace in families and in the world, fruit of fidelity, forgiveness and reconciliation , which He has given us in Christ. He calls families to take part in this dream and make of the world a home where no one is alone, no one is unwanted, no one is excluded. Think well about this: what God wants is that no one be alone, no one be unwanted, no one be excluded. Therefore, the theme of this World Meeting was very appropriate. It was called thus: “The Gospel of the Family, Joy for the World.”

I am grateful to the President of Ireland, to the Prime Minister, to the different government, civil and religious Authorities, and to the many people of all levels who helped to prepare and to carry out the Meeting’s events, a many thanks to the Bishops, who worked so much. Addressing the Authorities in Dublin’s Castle, I confirmed that the Church is the family of families and that, as a body, she sustains her cells in their indispensable role for the development of a fraternal and solidary society.

True and proper “light-points” of these days were the testimonies of conjugal love given by couples of every age. Their stories have reminded us that marital love is a special gift of God, to be cultivated every day in the “domestic church,” which is the family. How much need the world has of a revolution of love, of a revolution of tenderness, which saves us from the present culture of the provisional! And this revolution begins in the heart of the family.

I met in Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral with spouses committed in the Church and many couples of young spouses, and many small children. Then I met with some families that face particular challenges and difficulties.  Thanks to the Capuchin Brothers, who are always close to the people, and to the larger ecclesial family, they experience the solidarity and support that are the fruit of charity.

The culminating moment of my visit was the great celebration with the families on Saturday evening in Dublin’s Stadium, followed on Sunday by the Mass in Phoenix Park. In the Vigil we heard very touching testimonies of families that suffered due to the wars, families renewed by forgiveness, families that love saved from the spiral of addictions, families that learned to use well mobile phones and tablets and families giving priority to time spent together. Highlighted was the value of communication between generations and the specific role that corresponds to grandparents in consolidating family bonds and transmitting the treasure of the faith.  Today — it’s hard to say it — but it seems that grandparents disturb. In this throw away culture, grandparents are “discarded,” they grow away. But the grandparents are the wisdom; they are the memory of a people, the memory of families! And the grandparents must transmit this memory to the grandchildren. Young people and children must talk with grandparents to carry history forward. Please, don’t discard the grandparents. May they be close to your children, to your grandchildren.

On Sunday morning, I went on pilgrimage to the Marian Shrine of Knock, so dear to the Irish people. There, in the chapel built in the place of the Virgin’s apparition, I entrusted all families to her maternal protection, in particular those of Ireland.  And although my trip didn’t include a visit to Northern Ireland, I addressed a special greeting to its people and encouraged the process of reconciliation, pacification, friendship and ecumenical cooperation.

My visit to Ireland, in addition to great joy, was also to take on the pain and bitterness of the sufferings caused in that country by different forms of abuse, also on the part of members of the Church, and of the fact that in the past Ecclesiastical Authorities were not always able to address these crimes in an appropriate way. The meeting with some survivors left a profound sign — they were eight — and several times I asked the Lord for forgiveness for these sins, for the scandal and for the sense of betrayal procured. The Irish Bishops have undertaken a serious course of purification and reconciliation with those that suffered abuses, and with the help of the national Authorities, they have established a series of severe norms to guarantee  the safety of young people. And then, in my meeting with the Bishops, I encouraged them in their effort to remedy the failures of the past with honesty and courage, trusting in the Lord’s promises and counting on the profound faith of the Irish people, to inaugurate a season of renewal of the Church in Ireland. The faith exists in Ireland, there are people of faith, a faith with great roots. But do you know something? There are few vocations to the priesthood. How is it that this faith doesn’t succeed <here>? Because of these problems, the scandals, so many things . . . We must pray that the Lord may send holy priests to Ireland, send new vocations.  And we will do so together, praying a “Hail Mary” to Our Lady of Knock. [Recitation of the Hail Mary] Lord Jesus, send us holy priests.

Dear brothers and sisters, the World Meeting of Families in Dublin was a prophetic, comforting experience of so many families committed in the evangelical way of marriage and family life; disciple and missionary families, leaven of goodness, holiness, justice and peace.  We forget the many families — so many! — that carry forward their family, the children, with fidelity, asking for forgiveness from one another when there are problems. We forget because it’s fashionable today in magazines, in newspapers to speak thus: “He has divorced her . . . She from him . . . And separation . . . “ But please, this is an awful thing. It’s true: I respect everyone, we must respect people, but the ideal isn’t divorce, the ideal isn’t separation, the ideal isn’t the destruction of the family. The ideal is the united family. So forward: this is the ideal!

The next World Meeting of Families will be held in Rome in 2021. We entrust all of them to the protection of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, so that in their homes, parishes and communities they can truly be “joy for the world.”

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