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Pope Francis: Families Cannot Last without Forgiveness

Walker family
L'Osservatore Romano
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At Wednesday audience, the Holy Father also says “this is not the time to examine the conclusions” of the Synod.

VATICAN CITY —Pope Francis has called the recently concluded Synod on the Family an “event of grace,” adding that “this is not the time to examine the conclusions” presented to him by the synod fathers in the final report.

Addressing pilgrims at his weekly general audience today, the Holy Father dedicated his catechesis to the family, saying the domestic church is a “gym for training in self-giving and mutual forgiveness.”

Here are the highlights of his address to pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square.

“I have to reflect on the conclusions of the Synod on the Family”

“The Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which recently concluded, reflected deeply on the vocation and mission of the family in the Church and contemporary society. At the end, the Synod Fathers submitted to me the text of their conclusions. I wanted this text to be published, so that everyone would be part of the work we have been involved in for two years. This is not the time to examine these conclusions, on which I have myself to meditate.

“In the meantime, however,” he added, “life doesn’t stop, family life in particular doesn’t stop. You, dear families, you are always on the move. And continually you write about the beauty of the Gospel of the family in the pages of real life. In a world that sometimes becomes barren of life and love, every day you speak of the great gift of marriage and the family.”

“The family is large gym for training in mutual forgiveness.”

“Today I would like to stress this point: that the family is a large gym for training in self-giving and mutual forgiveness. The family is a large gym for training in self-giving and mutual forgiveness, without which no love can last. … Love doesn’t remain, it doesn’t last if we don’t give ourselves and forgive one another.

“In the prayer he taught us; that is, the Our Father, Jesus has us ask the Father: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” And at the end he comments: “If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6, 12:14–15). We can’t live without forgiving each other, or at least we can’t live well, especially in the family.”

“Never let the day end without asking forgiveness.”

“Every day we do wrong to one other. We have to take account of these mistakes that come from our frailty and our selfishness. But what is required of us now is to heal the wounds that we inflict on each other, immediately to mend the threads that break in family life. If we wait too long, everything becomes more difficult. And there’s a simple secret to healing the wounds and dismissing the charges. It’s this: do not let the day end without asking forgiveness, without making peace between husband and wife, between parents and children, brothers and sisters, between daughter in-law and mother-in-law.

“If we learn to apologize immediately and grant each other forgiveness, the wounds heal, the marriage is strengthened and the family becomes a more and more solid home that withstands the tremors of our mean behavior, big and small. And long discussions are needed for this, a caress is enough. One caress, and it’s all over and we start again. But do not finish the day at war. Got it?”

“Forgiveness in a sometimes ruthless society.”

“If we learn to live like this as a family, we’ll do so outside as well, wherever we are. It’s easy to be skeptical about this. Many—even among Christians—think it is an exaggeration. They say yes, they are beautiful words, but it is impossible to put them into practice. But thanks be to God it is not so. In fact, it precisely in receiving forgiveness from God that we, in turn, are able to forgive others. This is why Jesus makes us repeat these words every time we recite the Lord’s Prayer—that is, every day. And it is essential that, in a sometimes ruthless society, there are places, such as the family, to learn to forgive one another.”

“Forgiveness makes society less mean and cruel.”

“The synod has revived our hope in this: The ability to forgive and to be forgiven is part of the vocation and mission of the family. The practice of forgiveness not only saves families from division, but also enables them to help society to be less mean and less cruel. Yes, every act of forgiveness repairs the cracks in the house and strengthens its walls.

“The Church, dear families, is always beside you to help you build your house on the rock of which Jesus spoke. And let us not forget the words that immediately precede the parable of the house: ‘Not everyone who says Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of the Father.’ And he adds: ‘Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, cast out demons in your name? I will say to them, ‘I never knew you’ (cf. Mt 7:21–23). It’s a strong word, there’s no doubt, that aims at shaking us and calling us to conversion.”

“The renewing power of forgiveness”

“I assure you, dear families, that if you are able to walk with ever greater determination on the path of the Beatitudes, learning and teaching how to forgive one other, in the great family of the Church the ability to bear witness to the renewing power of God’s forgiveness will grow. Otherwise, we will preach beautifully and perhaps even cast out demons, but in the end the Lord will not see us as his disciples, because we didn’t have the ability to forgive and to be forgiven by others.”

Jubilee of Mercy: “May families rediscover the treasure of mutual forgiveness.”

“Truly, Christian families can do much for today’s society and also for the Church. I therefore wish that, during the Jubilee of Mercy, families rediscover the treasure of mutual forgiveness. Let us pray that families increasingly are able to live and to build concrete roads of reconciliation, where no one feels abandoned to the weight of his trespasses. And with this intention, let us say together: ‘Our Father, forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.’ Let’s say it together: ‘Our Father, forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.’ Thank you!”

Diane Montagna is Rome correspondent for Aleteia’s English edition.

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