VATICAN CITY — Delivering his Wednesday general audience address a little more than a week after the close of the synod on the family, Pope Francis spoke on the role of forgiveness in helping families become a force for the betterment of society.
“The practice of forgiveness not only preserves families from division,” but allows them to aid society in becoming “less evil and cruel,” the Pope said during his Nov. 4 weekly audience address in St. Peter's Square.
“Christian families can do a great deal for today's society, as well as for the Church,” he said.
The pontiff also spoke on the role of the recent synod in “reviving our hope” in the family’s vocation and mission in the context of forgiveness.
Pope Francis described the synod as an “event of grace.”
At the conclusion of the three-week synod, the Vatican released a final document. Pope Francis is expected to write an apostolic exhortation on the theme of the family based on this document.
While the Pope is still reviewing the final document, “I wanted the text to be published in order that everyone might participate in the work which he have seen undertaken together for two years,” he said.
Meanwhile, while he is reviewing the document, life continues to move forward, especially for families, he said.
“You are continuously writing of the beauty of the Gospel in the family in the pages of real life,” the Pope remarked.
“In a world which at times is barren of life and love, you speak every day of the great gifts which are marriage and the family.”
Pope Francis compared the family to a gym in which “reciprocal forgiveness” is exercised.
“No love can endure for long” without self-gift and forgiveness, he said, reflecting on the Our Father prayer, which calls us to forgive as we ourselves are forgiven.
“We cannot live without forgiveness — or, at least, we cannot live well, especially in the family.”
Forgiveness should be exercised every day, the Pope continued, saying we must take into account our fragility and pride. He also warned against allowing too much time to pass before forgiving; otherwise, it becomes more difficult.
“Do not allow the day to end without saying, ‘I’m sorry,’ without making peace between husband and wife, between parents and children, between brother and sister ... between daughter-in-law and mother-in-law.”
In learning to forgive and ask forgiveness, wounds are healed, marriage is strengthened, and the family becomes fortified against our own acts of meanness, both small and great, the Pope said.
“Don’t finish the day at war — understand?”
Pope Francis offered his assurance to families that, by walking in the path of the beatitudes, as recounted in Matthew’s Gospel, and by learning to forgive and be forgiven, “everyone in the great family of the Church will develop the ability to give witness to the renewing power of God’s forgiveness.”
For this reason, he expressed his desire for families to rediscover the “treasure” of reciprocal forgiveness during the Jubilee of Mercy, which starts Dec. 8.
“We pray that families may always be more able to live and build concrete paths of reconciliation, where no one feels abandoned to the weight of his debts.”