Sunday, September 15, 2013
Francis' Message on Church's Concept of Family
"The future of society, and concretely of Italian society, is rooted in the elderly and in young people"
Here is and excerpt (emphasis added):
The theme of this Social Week is “The Family, Hope and Future of Italian Society.” I express all my appreciation for this choice, and for having associated to the family the idea of hope and future. It is indeed so! However, for the Christian community the family is much more than a “theme”: it is life, daily fabric, and the path of generations that transmit the faith to one another together with love and with fundamental moral values; it is concrete solidarity, effort, patience and also project, hope, future. All this, which the Christian community lives in the light of faith, of hope and of charity, is never held for oneself, but becomes every day leaven in the dough of the whole society, for its greater common good (cf. Ibid., 47).
Hope and future presuppose memory. The memory of our elderly people is the support to go forward on the way. The future of society, and concretely of Italian society, is rooted in the elderly and in young people: the latter because they have the strength and age to carry the history forward, the former, because they are the living memory. A nation that does not take care of the elderly, of children and of young people has no future, because it mistreats the memory and the promise.
This 47thSocial Week is placed in this perspective, with the preparatory document that preceded it. It intends to offer a testimony and to propose a reflection, a discernment, free of prejudices, as open as possible, attentive to the human and social sciences. As Church we offer first of all a conception of the family which is that of the Book of Genesis, of the unity in difference between man and woman, and of fecundity. In this reality, moreover, we recognize a good for all, the first natural society, as accepted also in the Constitution of the Italian Republic. In fine, we wish to reaffirm that the family, understood thus, remains the first and principal subject builder of the society and of an economy to the measure of man, and as such merits to be actively supported. The consequences – positive and negative --, of the choices of a cultural character, first of all, and political regarding the family touch the different realms of the life of a society and a country: from the demographic problem – which is serious for the whole European continent and, in particular, for Italy, to the other questions regarding work and the economy in general, to the upbringing of children, to those that concern the anthropological view itself which is at the base of our civilization (cf. Benedict XVI, encyclical Caritas in veritate, 44).
These reflections do not just interest believers but all persons of good will, all those who have at heart the common good of the country, precisely as happens with the problems of environmental ecology, which can help very much to understand those of “human ecology” (cf. Id, Address to the Bundestag, Berlin, September 22, 2011). The family is the privileged school of generosity, of sharing, of responsibility; school that educates to overcome a certain individualistic mentality that has gained ground in our societies. To support and promote the family, valuing its fundamental and central role, is to work needed for a just and solidaristic development.
We cannot ignore the suffering of so many families, due to lack of work, to the problem of housing, to the practical impossibility to act freely in their educational choices; suffering due also to internal conflicts in families themselves, to the failure of the conjugal and family experience, to the violence which unfortunately nests and causes damage within our homes. We want to be particularly close to all, with respect and with a true sense of fraternity and solidarity. However, above all we want to recall the simple but beautiful and courageous testimony of so many families, which live joyfully the experience of matrimony and parenthood, illumined and sustained by the Lord’s grace, without fear of facing also moments of the cross that, lived in union with that of the Lord, do not impede the way of love, but can even make it stronger and more complete.
May this Social Week contribute effectively to make evident the bond that unites the common good to the promotion of the family founded on marriage, beyond prejudices and ideologies. It is a duty of hope that all have in addressing the country, particularly young people, who must be offered hope for the future. To you, dear Brother, and to the great assembly of the Social Week of Turin, I assure my remembrance in prayer and, while asking that you pray also for me and for my service to the Church, I send from my heart the Apostolic Blessing.
From the Vatican, September 11, 2013