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Families an Eloquent Sign of God's Dream

by Pope Francis

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Pope Francis General Audience Address of August 29, 2018


Pope Francis dedicated his August 29, 2018, General Audience to a reflection on his Apostolic Visit to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families. “My presence” in Ireland, he said, “was intended above all to confirm Christian families in their vocation and mission.”

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Vatican, August 29, 2018

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Last weekend I took a trip to Ireland to take part in the World Meeting of Families: I am sure you have seen this on television. My presence was intended above all to confirm Christian families in their vocation and mission. The thousands of families – couples, 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 entire human family. And we know: God’s dream is unity, harmony and peace, in families and in the world, the fruit of the fidelity, forgiveness and reconciliation that He has given us in Christ. He calls families to participate in this dream and make the world a home where nobody is alone, nobody is unwanted, nobody is excluded. Think carefully about this: what God wants is for nobody to be alone, nobody to be unwanted, nobody to be excluded. Therefore the theme of this World Meeting was very appropriate: “The Gospel of the family, joy for the world”.

I am grateful to the President of Ireland, the Taoiseach (Prime Minister), the various governmental, civil and religious authorities, and the many people at every level who helped prepare and realize the events of the Meeting. And many thanks to the bishops, who worked very hard. Addressing the authorities in Dublin Castle, I reiterated that the Church is a family of families, and like a body, supports these, its cells, in their indispensable role for the development of a fraternal society of solidarity.

The true “high points” of these days were the testimonies of conjugal love given by couples of all ages. Their stories reminded us that the love of marriage is a special gift from God, to be cultivated every day in the “domestic church” that is the family. How much the world is in need of a revolution of love, a revolution of tenderness, to save us from the current throwaway culture! And this revolution begins in the heart of the family.

In the Pro-Cathedral of Dublin I met spouses involved in the Church and a lot of young married couples, and many young children. Then I met some families who face particular challenges and difficulties. Thanks to the Capuchin Friars, who are always close to the people, and the wider ecclesial family, they experience the solidarity and support that are the fruit of charity.

The highlight of my visit was the great Festival with the families, on Saturday night, in the Dublin stadium, followed Sunday by Mass in Phoenix Park. During the Vigil we heard very touching testimonies of families who suffered as a result of wars, families renewed by forgiveness, families which had been saved by love from the spiral of addictions, families who learned to use mobile phones and tablets well and give priority to the time spent together. And the value of communication between generations and the specific role of grandparents in consolidating family ties and transmitting the treasure of faith were highlighted. Today – it is hard to say this – it seems that grandparents are seen as an inconvenience. In this throwaway culture, grandparents are “discarded”, distanced. But grandparents are the wisdom, they are the memory of a people, the memory of families! And grandparents must transmit this memory to their grandchildren. Young people and children must speak with their grandparents to carry history forward. Please: do not discard grandparents. May they be close to your children, to their grandchildren.

On Sunday morning I made a pilgrimage to the Marian shrine of Knock, so dear to the Irish people. There, in the chapel built on the site of an apparition of the Virgin, I entrusted all families, particularly those of Ireland, to her maternal protection. And although my journey did not include a visit to Northern Ireland, I addressed a cordial greeting to the people and encouraged the process of reconciliation, pacification, friendship, and ecumenical cooperation.

My visit to Ireland, in addition to great joy, also had to bear the pain and bitterness for the suffering caused in that country by various forms of abuse, also by members of the Church, and the fact that the ecclesiastical authorities in past have not always been able to address these crimes adequately. The meeting with some survivors left a profound mark on me; and on several occasions I have asked the Lord for forgiveness for these sins, for the scandal and the sense of betrayal they have caused. The Irish Bishops have undertaken a serious path of purification and reconciliation with those who have suffered abuse, and with the help of national authorities they have established a series of strict rules to ensure the safety of young people. And then, in my meeting with the bishops, I encouraged them in their efforts 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. In Ireland there is faith, there are people of faith: a faith with deep roots. But do you know something? There are few vocations to the priesthood. Why does this faith not succeed? Because of these problems, the scandals, many things… We must pray that the Lord send holy priests to Ireland, that He send new vocations. And we will do this together, praying a Hail Mary to Our Lady of Knock [Recital 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 many families committed to the Gospel way of marriage and family life; disciples and missionary families, a leaven of goodness, holiness, justice and peace. We forget many families - many! – who carry forward their own family, their children, with fidelity, asking for forgiveness when there are problems. We forget because today it is in vogue in magazines and newspapers to speak in this way: “He got divorced from her… That one from this one… And the separation…”. But please: this is ugly. It is true: I respect each person, I must respect people, but the ideal is not divorce, the ideal is not separation. The ideal is the united family. Ahead in this way: this is the ideal!

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

Greetings in various languages


I am pleased to greet pilgrims from France, Benin and the various Francophone countries, in particular the group of faithful from Toulouse and members of the Capuchin Foreign Missions of Benin. In preparation for the next World Meeting to be held in Rome in 2021, we entrust all families to the loving protection of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. May they truly be a “joy for the world”, in their homes, in their parishes and in their communities. God bless you!


I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s audience, especially those from Ghana, South Africa, Korea and the United States of America. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!


I extend a cordial greeting to all German-speaking pilgrims, especially to the many altar servers present here. I am grateful for the valuable experiences I gained during my journey, and invite you increasingly to realize the love of God in your families. I entrust you all to the protection of the Holy Family.


I cordially greet the Spanish-speaking pilgrims from Spain and Latin America.

I encourage you to continue in your Christian commitment, without faltering, and supporting each other. I ask you to pray for families, and also for priests, so that each person in their state of life may be, in the midst of society, a courageous witness of the joy of the gospel, and leaven of kindness and holiness.

God bless you. Thank you very much.


I extend a cordial greeting to Portuguese-speaking pilgrims, in particular to the faithful of Viseu, Aveiro and the Brazilians of Rio de Janeiro. Dear friends, thank you for your presence and above all for your prayers! Let us ask the Holy Spirit, creator of unity in the Church and in families, to help us always seek dialogue, forgiveness and reconciliation in families, so that we can build a world of peace and solidarity. God bless you and your loved ones!


I cordially greet Arabic-speaking pilgrims, especially those from Syria, Lebanon and the Middle East. The difficulties and problems that families go through can not undermine the importance of the family institution, for society and for humanity, or question the basic human need for lasting love that saves us from the isolation of loneliness and from the deceptions of our throwaway culture. Let us pray for all families who are in difficulty to rediscover the greatness of the love that has united them and the strength of faith capable of healing their wounds. May the Lord bless you and protect you from the evil one!


I welcome Polish pilgrims. Thank you so much for your prayers during my Apostolic journey to Ireland. Today, in a special way I greet the Association of Queen of Peace Communities of Radom and the Franciscan Fathers from Niepokalanów. At their request, before the audience, I blessed the Altar of Eucharistic adoration, entitled the “Star of the Immaculate”. It will be placed in the Shrine of Niepokalanów, which thus becomes the eighth International Centre of Prayer for Peace. As you worship Christ, following the spiritual vision of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, implore peace for your families, for your country, for Europe and for the whole world. I warmly bless you and your loved ones.


I extend a cordial welcome to Italian-speaking pilgrims.

In particular I greet the Pious Sisters of the Redemption who participate in their General Chapter; the Daughters of Divine Zeal; the priests of the Pontifical Pio Brazilian College; the priests and deacons of Milan – they make a lot of noise, these Lombards! -, participants in the summer meeting for seminarians, and confirmands from Chiavari and Lucca, accompanied by their bishops.

I greet the musical Madonna di Dinnammare musical group from Messina and the parish groups, in particular those of Grotte di Castro, San Giorgio del Sannio and Curteri di Mercato San Severino.

I address a special thought to the young, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds. Today is the liturgical memorial of the martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist. The heroic sacrifice of the Precursor teaches you to understand the supreme value for a Christian: to witness the lordship of Christ, alive and working among us, not only with words, but with the gift of life itself. God bless you all!

Appeal of the Holy Father

Next Saturday, 1 September, will be the fourth World Day of Prayer for the care of creation, which we celebrate in union with our Orthodox brothers and sisters and with the adhesion of other Churches and Christian communities.

In this year’s Message I wish to draw attention to the issue of water, the primary good to be protected and made available to all.

I am grateful for the various initiatives of the particular Churches, Institutes of consecrated life and ecclesial aggregations. I invite you all to join in prayer on Saturday, for our common home, for the care of our common home.

© Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2018

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