Discussing (and appreciating) Pope Francis’s recent U.S. speech on the family
This week’s show is broken up into two parts. First, a discussion with Lance and Sarah about the Pope’s recent US visit. The second part is a full recording of Pope Francis’ unscripted speech to the World Meeting of Families audience on September 26, 2015.
Pope Francis is not only the spiritual shepherd of over 1 billion Catholics worldwide, he’s also a respected world leader who caught the attention and love of Christians and atheists alike. Francis recently visited the United States, and besides the United Nations meetings and address to the U.S. Congress while he was here, he also led the World Meeting of Families event in Philadelphia. At the “celebration” on Saturday night, he gave an inspiring and passionate off-the-cuff speech on the value and importance of families.
This week, our show is about what he had to say, and what this means to our families. Joining me as a guest co-host for this show is my beautiful wife, Sarah Osborne!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock – or you’re outside of the United States – you’re probably aware that Pope Francis recently visited the U.S. for a few days. Now – I know, I know – old news. There was a massive spotlight on him while he was here, and you may even be kind of tired of hearing about it. Especially if you’re not Catholic!
And a quick note on that: this episode, even though we’re talking about the Pope – it’s really less about Catholicism, and more about what one man – albeit a world lethe value of families. So, why are we talking about it? And especially why is it worth discussing on Above Average?
Well, we’re not talking about his trip to DC where he met with President Obama and addressed a joint session of Congress. And we’re also NOT talking about what he said to the United Nations while in New York City. And… let’s see… what else? We’re also not too concerned about the broader implications of what he said or chose NOT to say while here – the messages that have been politicized by the media, activists, or political leaders.
We’re going to talk about the core reason for the papal visit: leading and supporting the World Meeting of Families. The World Meeting was created by St. John Paul II when he was pope in ’94. It’s pretty much what it sounds like from the title: an event for celebrating and strengthening families across the globe. This year’s conference featured a huge main event in Philadelphia’s city streets the night of September 26, featuring performances from Aretha Franklin, Andrea Bocelli, and others. And of course Pope Francis was there to hear from families and encourage them.
The reason this is relevant to Above Average families is because of what he said at this event – what he said about the beauty and power of families. Not that our big families are better or more important than other families – smaller ones, blended ones, etc. – but sometimes it does seem like those of us with more children simply focus more on our families, either by choice or default. And with more focus and attention on them – hopefully – our eyes are slightly more opened to this beauty and power.
The entire remarks lasted about 20 minutes and are transcribed below, but in the show, Sarah and I dig into some sections that were highlights for our family.
Pope Francis’ full remarks:
All that is beautiful leads us to God. Because is God is good, God is beautiful, God is true. Thank you all those who have offered their witness. And for the presence of all of you, that is also great witness…a real witness that it’s worth being a family.
Once a child asked me – you know that kids ask difficult questions – he asked me Father, what did God do before creating the world? I assure you, I found real difficulty in answering the question. So I said what I’m now going to say to you: Before creating the world, God loved. Because God is love.
He had so much love: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It was so overflowing. I don’t think this is very logical, but you will understand – it was so big, this love, he could not be egoistic. It had to be poured out of him. So as to share that love with those out of himself. And then God created the world. God made this marvelous world in which we live.
And because sometimes we are a bit confused, we are destroying it. But the most beautiful thing that God did, says the Bible, was the family.
Let us go back further. All of the love that God has in himself, all the beauty that he has in himself, he gives it to the family. And the family is really family when it is able to open its arms and receive all that love.
Of course, it’s not quite earthly paradise. There are still problems. Men and women, through the astuteness of the devil, have learned unfortunately how to divide themselves. And all that love that God gave, almost was lost. In a little period of time – the first crime. The first instance of fratricide. A brother kills another brother. And war. Love, beauty and truth of God and destruction and war. And between those: we walk ahead. It’s up to us to choose. It’s up to us to decide which path we want to take forward.
Let’s go back: When man and his wife made a mistake, God did not abandon them. So great was His love, that He began to walk with humanity, with His people, until the right moment came, and He made the highest expression of love – His own Son. And where did He send his son – to a palace? To a city? No. He sent him to a family. God sent him amid a family. And He could do this, because it was a family that had a truly open heart. The doors of their heart opened. Mary, she couldn’t believe it. How can this happen? When the angel explained it to her, she agreed. Joseph. He finds himself in a surprising situation that he doesn’t understand, and he accepts. He obeys. In Mary and Joseph, there is a family in which Jesus is born.
God likes to give his love to open hearts. Do you know what he loves most? To knock on the door of families, and find families who love each other, who bring up their children to grow, and help them move forward. To create and develop a society with truth, goodness and beauty.
We are celebrating the Feast of the Family. Families have a citizenship which is divine. The identity card that they have is given to them by God. So that within the heart of the family, truth, goodness and beauty can truly grow.
Some of you might say, “Father, you speak like that because you are single.” Families have the difficulties. Families, we quarrel, and sometimes plates can fly. And children bring headaches. I won’t speak about mother-in-laws!
Forgive me, but I have to say, the family is like a factory of hope. It’s a factory of resurrection. God opened this path, this possibility.
And children, yes they bring their challenges. And we also are the cause of work and worry. Sometimes at home, I see some of my helpers, they come to work and they look tired. They have a one-month-old baby, and I ask them did you sleep? And they say I couldn’t sleep, Holiness, because they were crying all night.
In the family, indeed, there are difficulties. But those difficulties are overcome with love. Hatred is not capable of dealing with any difficulty and overcoming any difficulty. Division of hearts cannot overcome any difficulty. Only love. Only love is able to overcome. Love is about celebration, love is joy, love is moving forward.
I don’t want to speak too much. Because it could be late. But I would like just to offer two points about the family. To take special care of these two points. Some things we really need to take care of: the children, and grandparents. Children, whether young or older, they are the future, the strength that moves us forward. We place our hope in them.
Grandparents are the living memory of the family. They passed on the faith, they transmitted the faith, to us. To look after grandparents, to look after children, is the expression of love. A people that doesn’t know how to look after its children or grandparents is a people that has no future. Because it doesn’t have strength or the memory to go forward.
Family is beautiful but there is effort involved and there are problems. In families there are inimicable relationships. Husbands and wives quarrel, can end up badly, separated. Never let the day end without making peace. In a family, you can’t finish the day off not being in peace.
May God bless you. May God give you hope, the strength to move forward, let us look after the family. Let’s protect the family. Because it’s in the family that our future is at play.
Thank you. God bless you. And please, pray for me.
Photo credits: Image of Pope Francis above from the broadcast by Vatican TV. Image of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as a 12 year old, public domain. (By the way, he’s the fourth boy from the left on the third row from the top.)