Pope Francis on the Importance of Family Life
On November 6, 2014 Pope Francis met with the bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi during their Ad Limina Visit (a visit “to the threshold” – Rome – undertaken by bishops on a periodic basis). After welcoming the bishops, Pope Francis spoke with them on the matters of family life, religious vocations, support for priests, and ministry to the vulnerable.
In regards to the matter of family life, the Pope expressed his appreciation for the Malawian people’s commitment despite the many obstacles they face. He said, “It is in the family, with its unique capacity to form each member, particularly the young, into persons of love, sacrifice, commitment and fidelity, that the Church and society in Malawi will find the resources necessary to renew and build up a culture of solidarity.”
He called upon the bishops to be fathers and shepherds, and in doing so nurture, protect and strengthen family life so that it may also be a part of the “family of faith,” which is the Church. He reminded the bishops that family life and the ecclesial life of the Church mutually depend upon and reinforce each other.
In order to live out this call, Pope Francis urged the Malawian bishops to keep always before them the needs and realities of families, so that they might be able to effectively spread the Gospel. He then stated, “There is no aspect of family life – childhood and youth; friendship, engagement and marriage; spousal intimacy, fidelity and love; interpersonal relations and support – which is excluded from the healing and strengthening touch of God’s love, communicated through the Gospels and taught by the Church.”
On the importance of this mission, the Pope said,
There is scarcely a greater commitment that the Church can make to the future of Malawi – and indeed, to her own development – than that of a thorough and joyful apostolate to families….Thus, by doing everything you can to support, educate and evangelize families, especially those in situations of material hardship, breakdown, violence or infidelity, you will bring inestimable benefit to the Church and all of Malawian society.
Pope Francis then moved on to talk about religious vocations, priestly support and ministry to the vulnerable.