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Pope Francis: the Church must be a warm, tender mother in a ‘society of orphans’

Catholic World News - June 17, 2014

In lengthy remarks to the ecclesial convention of the Diocese of Rome, Pope Francis called upon parishes to reveal the face of the Church as a warm, tender mother.

Pope Francis began his June 16 talk by praising Paul VI’s 1975 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi as the “most important” postconciliar pastoral document-- one that “has not been surpassed.” Pope Francis recalled that St. John Paul II was the relator general of the synod whose deliberations on evangelization led to the publication of the document.

Pope Francis then lamented the “inhumane” culture of 90-minute commutes in which parents do not have time to play with their children. “This is not life,” the Pope said. “It is a hard cross. It is not human.”

“This is a society of orphans” in which children are “orphaned, without affection,” he continued. When children do not experience gratuity in a family, the Pope added, it is hard for them to understand the grace of God. With 40% of young adults in Italy unemployed, “this civilization leaves them orphaned” as well.

The Church, Pope Francis continued, is not quite a “grandmother Church,” but she is growing older and needs to become young again by having children through evangelization. “Fertility is the grace that we now must ask the Holy Spirit,” he said, as he called upon the Church to grow through the attraction of maternal tenderness.

Recalling that one parish secretary in Buenos Aires was nicknamed “the tarantula,” Pope Francis said that priests, parish secretaries, and parishes in general must be welcoming, with manifest tenderness and warmth. Stating that it is far easier to be a bishop than a parish priest, he paid tribute to priests who slept near their phones so that they could respond immediately to nighttime sick calls. “No one died without the sacraments,” the Pope said.

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