Here is a translation of the message that the Holy Father Francis sent to the participants in the online meeting “Our Daily Love,” organized by the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family, and Life, by the Diocese of Rome, and by the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute, on the 5th anniversary of the publication of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, and on the occasion of the opening of the Year “Amoris Laetitia Family,” proclaimed by the Pope last December 27, which will end in Rome on June 26, 2022, with the 10th World Meeting of Families.
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The Holy Father’s Message
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
I greet you all who are taking part in the Conference of Studies on the theme “Our Daily Love.” My thought goes in particular to Cardinal Kevin Joseph Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family, and Life, to Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, Vicar for the Diocese of Rome, and to Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, Grand Chancellor of the John Paul II Theological Institute for the Sciences of Marriage and the Family.
Promulgated five years ago was the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, on the beauty and joy of conjugal and family love. On this occasion, I invite to live a year of rereading of the Document and of reflection on the subject, until the celebration of the 10th World Day of the Family that, God willing, will take place in Rome on June 26, 2022. I am grateful for the initiatives you have undertaken for this purpose and for the contribution that each one of you offers in your work environment.
In this quinquennial, Amoris Laetitia has traced the beginning of a journey, seeking to encourage a new pastoral approach towards the family reality. The main intention of the Document is to communicate, in a time and in a culture that is profoundly changed, which makes necessary today a new look on the family on the part of the Church: it’s not enough to confirm the value and importance of the Doctrine, if we do not become custodians of the beauty of the family and if we do not take care of its fragility and its wounds.
These two aspects are the heart of any pastoral care of the family: the frankness of the evangelical proclamation and the tenderness of the accompaniment.
In fact, on one hand, we proclaim to couples, spouses, and families a Word that helps them receive the authentic meaning of their union and of their love, sign, and image of the Trinitarian love and of the covenant between Christ and the Church. It is the ever-new Word of the Gospel of which every Doctrine, including that of the family, can take shape. And it is a demanding Word, which intends to free human relations from the slaveries that often disfigure the face and render them unstable: the dictatorship of the emotions, the exaltation of the provisional, which discourages commitments for a lifetime, the predominance of individualism, the fear of the future. In face of these difficulties, the Church confirms to Christian spouses the value of marriage as the plan of God, as the fruit of His Grace, and as a call to live with totality, fidelity, and gratuitousness. This is the way for relations, even in a path marked by failures, falls, and changes, to open to the fullness of human joy and fulfillment and to become leaven of fraternity and of love in the society.
On the other hand, this proclamation cannot and must never be given from above and from outside. The Church is incarnated in the historical reality, as was her Teacher, and even when she proclaims the Gospel of the Family, she does so immersing herself in real life, knowing up close the daily difficulties of spouses and parents, their problems, their sufferings, all those small and large situations that weigh down and, sometimes, hinder their path. This is the concrete context in which daily love is lived. You have entitled your Congress so: “Our Daily Love.” It is a significant choice. It is the love generated by simplicity and the silent work of the life of a couple, of that daily commitment, at times difficult, carried forward by spouses, by mothers and fathers, by children. A Gospel proposed as a doctrine descended from above, and not entering the “flesh” of the every day, would risk being a beautiful theory and, at times, of being lived as a moral obligation. We are called to accompany, to listen, to bless the path of families, not only to trace the direction but to undertake the path with them; to enter homes with discretion and love, to say to spouses: the Church is with you, the Lord is close to you, we want to help you to keep the gift you have received.
To proclaim the Gospel by accompanying people and putting ourselves at the service of their happiness: in this way, we can help families to walk in a way responding to their vocation and mission, aware of the beauty of bonds and of their foundation in the love of God, Father and Son, and Holy Spirit.
When a family lives in the sign of this divine Communion — which I wished to make explicit in Amoris Laetitia, including in its existential aspects –, then it becomes a living word of the God Love, pronounced to the world and for the world. In fact, the grammar of family relations — namely, of conjugality, maternity, paternity, filiality and fraternity — is the way through which the language of love is transmitted, which gives meaning to life and human quality to every relationship. It is a language made up not only of words but also of ways of being, of ways of speaking, of looks, of gestures, of times and spaces of our relating with others. Spouses know it well; parents and children learn it daily in this school of love that is the family. And the transmission of faith between generations also happens in this ambit: in fact, it passes through the language of good and healthy relations that are lived in the family every day, especially by addressing together the conflicts and difficulties.
In this time of pandemic, among so many hardships of a psychological as well as an economic and health order, all this has become evident: family bonds have been and still are harshly tested; however, at the same time they remain the firmest reference, the strongest support, the irreplaceable protection for preserving the entire human and social community.
So, let’s support the family! Let’s defend it from that which compromises its beauty. Let’s approach this mystery of love with wonder, with discretion, and tenderness. And let’s commit ourselves to guard its precious and delicate bonds: children, parents, grandparents . . . There is need of these bonds to live and to live well, to render humanity more fraternal. Therefore, the Year dedicated to the Family, which begins today, will be a propitious time to reflect further on Amoris Laetita. And I thank you for this from my heart, knowing that John Paul II can contribute in many ways — in the dialogue with the other academic and pastoral institutions –, to the development of the human, spiritual and pastoral care in support of the family. I entrust you and your work to the Holy Family of Nazareth, and I ask you to do the same for me and my ministry.
Rome, Saint John Lateran, March 19, 2021
Solemnity of Saint Joseph, beginning of the Year “Amoris Laetitia Family.”
© Libreria Editrice Vatican
[Original text: Italian] [Exaudi’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]