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Pope Francis envisages a joyfully loving family

“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" says Pope Francis.

Pope Francis envisages a joyfully loving family

By Joe Palathunkal
The encyclical Amoris Laetitia(Joy of Love), published on Friday April 8, 2016, is a typical vision of Pope Francis, a vision that tells us that family needs to be a state of life where joy of love must blossom, whatever may be the hardships and trials. Besides, he has expressed his thoughtful views on family and marriage rooted in the realities of 21st century at different occasions.

The encyclical Amoris Laetitia asks us to see today’s family in the light of the following realities: migration, lack of housing, inattention to persons with disabilities, lack of respect for the elderly, and “the ideological denial of differences between the sexes”. We know that these are all harsh realities we face today irrespective of the regions, religions and cultures. Only difference is in the level of intensity – in some regions it can be harsher than the other based on the economic background and worldviews of the communities.

“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.” This is what Pope Francis said in his speech at Humanum Conference, Rome, Italy, November 17th 2014. To create ‘a suitable environment for the child’s development’ a joyful mutual love between father and mother is a situational imperative. A family should not turn into a hostel where the material needs of the children are lavishly taken care of but the psychological needs are completely ignored under the excuse of being busy.

Such a conducive environment is possible only if we can look at marriage as a sacrament creating an indissoluble union between one man and one woman, not a mere social contract or labour contract. Man should not marry in order to have a manual worker without wages and some ideologies advocate such a view of marriage and there are people who eulogize such views. Pope is very clear in this regard. He says: “The union of man and woman in marriage [is] a unique, natural, fundamental and beautiful good for persons, communities, and whole societies.” It will be beautiful only when we follow what Jesus said: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” (Matthew19: 3 – 10)

If the words of Jesus are adhered to scrupulously only family life can become a joyful mutual love. If the woman is constantly under the threat of being thrown out, there will be an atmosphere of insecurity and therefore joy will disappear from the family. Such a family is a threat even to the development of the nation. Addressing the families in Manila, Philippines, on January 16, 2015, Pope Francis said: “Every threat to the family is a threat to society itself. The future of humanity, as Saint John Paul II often said, passes through the family. The future passes through the family. So protect your families! Protect your families! See in them your country’s greatest treasure and nourish them always by prayer and the grace of the sacraments.”

This threat can be avoided when we cultivate true Christian love in our families as we witness it in Trinity and Holy Family – an inseparable union of minds and hearts not only between father and mother but also between the siblings, and the governments must make sure the happiness index of the families remain high so that the families can really become a treasure for the nation, as the Pope reminds us. So the States must be careful about colonizing families with dangerous ideologies which will take away the joy of love from families and Pope Francis gives a clear warning in these words:

“Let us be on guard against colonization by new ideologies. There are forms of ideological colonization which are out to destroy the family. […] Let’s not lose the freedom of the mission which God has given us, the mission of the family. Just as our peoples, at a certain moment of their history, were mature enough to say ‘no’ to all forms of political colonization, so too in our families we need to be very wise, very shrewd, very strong, in order to say ‘no’ to all attempts at an ideological colonization of our families.”

At the end of the encyclical Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis gives us a beautiful family prayer which each family should say at the end of their evening rosary. This is a prayer to the Holy Family of Nazareth, model and ideal for every Catholic family:

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, 
in you we contemplate
the splendour of true love;
to you we turn with trust.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that our families too
may be places of communion and prayer,
authentic schools of the Gospel
and small domestic churches.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
may families never again experience
violence, rejection and division;
may all who have been hurt or scandalized
find ready comfort and healing.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
make us once more mindful
of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,
and its beauty in God’s plan.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
graciously hear our prayer.


(Joe Palathunkal is Associate Editor, Living in Faith)

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