The following comes from a Dec. 28 release from the Vatican Information Service.
On the feast day of the Holy Family, Pope Francis received in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall a group of large Italian families, present in Rome to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Associazione Nazionale Famiglie Numerose (National Association for Large Families). The audience was also attended by families from other countries throughout Europe.
“You have come here with the most beautiful fruits of your love. Maternity and paternity are gifts from God. Your task is to receive this gift, to be amazed by its beauty and to let it shine in society. Each one of your children is a unique creation that will never be repeated in the history of humanity. When we understand this, that each person is willed by God, we are astonished by the great miracle that is a child.”
“And you, boys and girls,” he continued, addressing the children present, “are precisely this: each one of you is the unique fruit of love, you come from love and grow in love. You are unique, but you are not alone. And the fact of having brothers and sisters is good for you: the sons and daughters of large families are more inclined to fraternal communion from early childhood. In a world that is frequently marked by selfishness, the large family is a school of solidarity and sharing; and these attitudes are of benefit to all society.”
“You, children and young people, are the fruit of the tree that is the family: you are good fruit when the tree has good roots – grandparents – and a good trunk – the parents. … The presence of large families is a hope for society. This is why the presence of grandparents is very important: a valuable presence both in terms of practical assistance, but above all for their contribution to education. Grandparents conserve the values of a people, of a family, and they help parents transmit them to their children. Throughout the last century, in many countries in Europe, it was the grandparents who transmitted faith.”
“Dear parents, thank you for your example of love for life that you protect from conception to its natural end, in spite of all the difficulties and burdens of life, that unfortunately public institutions do not always help you to bear. … Every family is a cell of society, but the large family is a richer, more vital cell, and the state has much to gain by investing in it,” Francis remarked.
He concluded by praying for those families who are most affected by the economic crisis, those in which the mother or father have lost their jobs and in which the young are unable to find work, and those families in which the closest relationships are marked by suffering and who are tempted to give in to loneliness and separation.
To read a related Vatican release on the address, click here.