Pope Francis: Spare No Effort in Defending Life and the Family

‘The family must always be defended as the main source of fraternity, respect for others and the primary path of peace,’ the Holy Father told the bishops of Mozambique Saturday.

(photo: CNA/Daniel Ibanez)

VATICAN CITY — In his May 9 meeting with the bishops from Mozambique, Pope Francis urged support for public policies that promote the family and protect human life.

“Spare no efforts in supporting the family and in the defense of life from conception to natural death,” he said. “In this sense, remember the options appropriate to one of Christ’s disciples and the beauty of being a mother, accompanied by the support of the family and the local community.”

“The family must always be defended as the main source of fraternity, respect for others and the primary path of peace.”

The Mozambican bishops — whose country borders Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, South Africa and the Indian Ocean — were in Rome for their ad limina visit, a meeting that takes place every five years where they report to the pope on the status of their dioceses.

The Holy Father cautioned his brother bishops against a worldly sense of success, saying, “The fecundity of our mission … is not measured by the number of collaborators, nor by the prestige of the institution, nor even by the quantity of available resources.”

“What counts is being permeated with Christ’s love, allowing oneself to be led by the Holy Spirit and grafting one’s own existence onto the tree of life, which is the cross of the Lord,” he said, adding, “From St. Paul, the insuperable model of the Christian missionary, we know that this means trying to conform to Jesus in his death so as to participate in his resurrection. ... The paschal mystery is the beating heart of the mission of the Church.”

“If you abide in this mystery, you will be protected both from a worldly and triumphalist vision of the mission and the disappointment that may arise when faced with trials and failures.”

Pope Francis encouraged the bishops to be particularly solicitous for their priests, as well as for the religious communities in their dioceses, and to live among their faithful in the “‘existential peripheries’ where there is suffering, loneliness and human degradation.”

Reflecting on the nature and role of a bishop, he said: “You are spouses of your diocesan community, profoundly tied to it.”

The Pope stated that “the pastors and the faithful of Mozambique need to further develop a culture of encounter,” saying Christ’s only request is “that you go out in search of the neediest.” He mentioned those who suffer from natural disasters, as well as displaced persons and refugees.

“These people need us to share in their suffering, their worries, their problems,” he told the bishops. “They need us to look upon them with love, and you must reach out to them, as did Jesus.”

Turning to the challenges facing Mozambique, Pope Francis encouraged investment in education, so as to oppose inequality and social division. He said education “teaches the young to think critically and offers a path towards maturity in values. In this sense, it is appropriate to raise awareness among leaders in society and to revive pastoral ministry in universities and schools, combining the task of education with the proclamation of the Gospel.”

“The needs are so great that they cannot be satisfied simply through individual initiatives or by a union of individuals educated in individualism. Community networks are needed to respond to social problems.”

He concluded by encouraging the bishops in going to the peripheries, saying, “When we go out to take the Gospel with true apostolic spirit, [Jesus] walks with us. He precedes us, and for us, this is fundamental: God always goes before us.”

Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Joseph Cordileone attends the mass and imposition of the Pallium upon the new metropolitan archbishops held by Pope Francis for the Solemnity of Saint Peter and Paul at Vatican Basilica on June 29, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican.

A New Era?

A NOTE FROM THE PUBLISHER: Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco has a profound understanding of what the U.S. bishops have called the preeminent issue of our time, and his stand is courageous.