Pope Francis has written a preparatory letter for the 8th World Meeting of Families, which he plans to attend in Philadelphia next September, saying that he “looks forward with confidence and hope to this blessed event.”
This will be the Pope’s first visit ever to the United States. It will give Americans the chance to size up Francis on their own turf and give the Pope the chance to get to know the United States and its people.
In his letter, Francis declared that the mission of the Christian family “is to announce God’s love to the world, with the force of the wedding sacrament.” It is the proclamation of this love that “builds a living family, which places a loving home at the center of all its human and spiritual dynamism,” he said.
“A family that–with God’s grace–fully lives its vocation and mission gives Him glory,” he said.
The Pope tied next September’s meeting to the recent Vatican Marriage Summit, saying that he and the bishops “have identified the most pressing issues involving the family in our pluralistic society.” He also wrote that the family cannot be qualified ideologically, since “the family is the family!”
“The values and virtues of the family and its essential truths,” the Pope went on, “are the pillars upholding the family unit, and they are non-negotiable.”
Francis also warned of the risk of families being “infected by a worldly mentality–individualistic, consumerist and hedonistic”–and invited them to take the high road, holding up “the greatness and beauty of marriage and the joy of living as a family.”
The Pope renewed the invitation “to proclaim the Gospel of marriage and the family,” and he urged husbands and wives, as well as priests and Church groups, “to be guided by the Word of God,” the bedrock of the family.
Finally, Pope Francis also expressed his esteem for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and asked the Lord “to reward that beloved Church with abundant heavenly graces.”
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.