By Vatican News staff writer
Five years after the publication of Pope Francis’ post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris laetita, the Vatican inaugurates the “Amoris Laetitia Family” Year. Marking the beginning of the year-long celebration, Pope Francis sent a message on Friday to participants in a webinar on the theme “Our Daily Love”.
Pope Francis opened his message by greeting participants, and in particular, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life; Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, Vicar for the Diocese of Rome, and Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, Grand Chancellor of the John Paul II Theological Institute for the Sciences of Marriage and the Family – who organised the event.
The Pope recalled the publication of the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia on the beauty and joy of conjugal and family love, and invited all to “live a year of rereading the Document and reflecting on the theme, until the celebration of the Tenth World Meeting of Families which, God willing, will take place in Rome on 26 June, 2022.”
World Meeting of Families
According to the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, 1994 was declared an “International Year of the Family” by the United Nations. Pope John Paul II wanted the Church to also celebrate this Year of the Family, and so the 1st World Meeting of Families (WMF) was held. It took place in Rome on 8 and 9 October 1994 under the guidance of the Pontifical Council for the Family who went on to organize all subsequent WMFs.
Since then, every three years, in different places around the world, a World Meeting of Families has been held, together with an International Pastoral-Theological Congress. It typically concludes with a Festival of Families in the presence of the Pope and a final Eucharistic Celebration.
A new look on the family
Pope Francis noted that “the main intention of the Document is to communicate…that today a new look at the family is necessary on the part of the Church.” He stressed that reiterating the value of doctrine is not enough. Rather, we must become “custodians” of the beauty of the family, and take care of its fragilities and wounds “with compassion”.
Pope Francis went on to say that there are two aspects at the heart of all family ministry: “the frankness of the proclamation of the Gospel and the tenderness of accompaniment”.
He explained that, on the one hand, “we proclaim to couples, spouses and families a Word that helps them grasp the authentic meaning of the union and love, the sign and image of Trinitarian love and of the covenant between Christ and the Church.”
On the other hand, the Pope noted, “this proclamation cannot and must never be given from above or from outside.” He explained that the Church is incarnated in history, as was her Master. So, when she proclaims the Gospel of the family she does so by immersing herself in real life, knowing firsthand the daily struggles of spouses and parents, their problems, their sufferings, all those small and large situations that weigh down and sometimes hinder their journey.”
“Our Daily Love”
It is in this context that daily love is lived, said the Pope, making reference to the title of the webinar. He noted that the title is a significant choice, because it is “about the love generated by the simplicity and the silent work of the life of a couple, by that daily and sometimes tiring commitment carried out by spouses, mothers, fathers and children”.
He said that if the Gospel is proposed as a “doctrine from on high” without entering into the “flesh” of daily life, it risks remaining only a beautiful theory and even being experienced as a moral obligation.
“We are called to accompany, listen, and bless the journey of families,” said the Pope. Not only to chart the direction, but to make the journey with them; to enter the home with discretion and love, to say to the couple: the Church is with you; the Lord is close to you; we want to help you safeguard the gift you have received.
Finally, the Pope urged, “Let us support the family! Let us defend it from all that compromises its beauty.”
And he invited everyone to “approach this mystery of love with wonder, discretion and tenderness. And let us commit ourselves to safeguarding its precious and delicate bonds: children, parents, grandparents… We need these bonds to live and to live well, to make humanity more fraternal.”