The energy is palpable for Pope Francis’ visit to the United States in September. Among the many exciting events, the Holy Father will address a joint session of Congress, canonize Junipero Serra, and speak at the United Nations in New York City. But, the main reason for Pope Francis’ visit is the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.
I’ve been asked: What will Pope Francis say about the family when he comes to America?
One thing that I’ve learned with my work on Pope Francis is that he isn’t afraid to repeat himself. Many of his best quotes from World Youth Day in Brazil were in fact things that he had already said. So, rather than predict the future, let’s look back at Pope Francis’ top 7 quotes on the family so far.
Whether you have a family or may have one in the future, our Holy Father gives us a lot to think about!
When I confess young married people and they tell me about their children, I always ask this question: “Do you have time to play with your children?” And so often I hear from the dad: “But, Father, when I go to work in the morning, they are sleeping, and when I come back in the evening, they are in bed sleeping.” This is not life! It’s a difficult cross. It’s not human. When … I had more opportunities than I do today to speak with kids and young people, I realized that they are suffering from orphandad, that is orphanhood. – Address, June 16, 2014
Living Together Is an Art
This question was asked by Stefano and Valentina, two young people from Ciociaria. “Your Holiness, everyday life together is beautiful, it gives joy, and support. But it is a challenge to face. We believe that we need to learn how to love one another. There is a ‘style’ of life as a couple, a spirituality of daily life that we want to take on. Can you help us in this, Holy Father?”
The Pope responded: Living together is an art, a patient, beautiful, fascinating journey. It does not end once you have won each other’s love… Rather, it is precisely there where it begins! This journey of every day has a few rules that can be summed up in three phrases which you already said, phrases which I have already repeated many times to families, and which you have already learned to use among yourselves: May I — that is, “can I,” you said — thank you, and I’m sorry. – Address, To Engaged Couples Preparing for Marriage, February 14, 2014
On Children’s Right to a Father and a Mother
The family is the foundation of co-existence and a remedy against social fragmentation. Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity. – Humanum Conference, November 17, 2014
What Do We Mean by Love?
Nicolas and Marie Alexia, a young engaged couple from Gibraltar, asked: “Your Holiness, many today think that life-long fidelity is too challenging; many feel that the struggle to live together may be beautiful, enchanting, but it is difficult, even impossible. We ask you for a word to enlighten us on this.”
The Holy Father responded: Today everything changes so quickly, nothing lasts long. And this mentality leads many who are preparing for marriage to say: “we are together as long as the love lasts,” and then? All the best and see you later… and so ends the marriage. But what do we mean by “love”? Is it only a feeling, a psychophysical state? Certainly, if that is it, then we cannot build on anything solid. But if, instead, love is a relationship, then it is a reality that grows. – Address, To Engaged Couples, February 14, 2014
You Cannot Have a Family Without Dreams
I am very fond of dreams in families. For nine months, every mother and father dream about their baby. Am I right? [Yes!] They dream about what kind of child he or she will be… You can’t have a family without dreams. Once a family loses the ability to dream, children do not grow, love does not grow, life shrivels up and dies. So I ask you each evening, when you make your examination of conscience, to also ask yourselves this question: Today did I dream about my children’s future? Today did I dream about the love of my husband, my wife? Did I dream about my parents and grandparents who have gone before me? – Address, Meeting with Families, January 16, 2015
What Makes the Family Strong
And we need simplicity to pray as a family: simplicity is necessary! Praying the Our Father together, around the table, is not something extraordinary: it’s easy. And praying the Rosary together, as a family, is very beautiful and a source of great strength! And also praying for one another! The husband for his wife, the wife for her husband, both together for their children, the children for their grandparents….praying for each other. This is what it means to pray in the family and it is what makes the family strong: prayer. – Homily, October 27, 2013
I think of Saint Paul VI. At a time when the problem of population growth was being raised, he had the courage to defend openness to life in families. He knew the difficulties that are there in every family, and so in his Encyclical, he was very merciful towards particular cases, and he asked confessors to be very merciful and understanding in dealing with particular cases. But he also had a broader vision: he looked at the peoples of the earth, and he saw this threat of families being destroyed for lack of children. Paul VI was courageous; he was a good pastor and he warned his flock of the wolves who were coming. From his place in heaven, may he bless this evening! – Address, Meeting with Families, January 16, 2015
For more quotes and reflections on the words of Pope Francis, check Kevin’s books on Pope Francis, including his new book, Pope Francis and the Joy of Family Life.