In a Feb. 25 letter, Pope Francis asked for families to pray for the upcoming
Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which is being convened this fall
at the Vatican to discuss the pastoral challenges to the family in the context
of evangelization. He also asked for prayers for the World
Meeting of Families, which is set for September 2015 in Philadelphia.
Below is the full text of the letter.
With this letter, I wish, as it were, to come into your homes to speak about an
event which will take place at the Vatican this coming October. It is the
Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which is being convened
to discuss the theme of “pastoral challenges to the family in the context of
evangelization.” Indeed, in our day the Church is called to proclaim the Gospel
by confronting the new and urgent pastoral needs facing the family.
This important meeting will involve all the People of God – bishops, priests,
consecrated men and women, and lay faithful of the particular Churches of the
entire world – all of whom are actively participating in preparations for the
meeting through practical suggestions and the crucial support of prayer. Such
support on your part, dear families, is especially significant and more
necessary than ever. This Synodal Assembly is dedicated in a special way to
you, to your vocation and mission in the Church and in society; to the
challenges of marriage, of family life, of the education of children; and the
role of the family in the life of the Church. I ask you, therefore, to pray
intensely to the Holy Spirit, so that the Spirit may illumine the synodal
Fathers and guide them in their important task. As you know, this Extraordinary
Synodal Assembly will be followed a year later by the Ordinary Assembly, which
will also have the family as its theme. In that context, there will also be the
World Meeting of Families due to take place in Philadelphia in September 2015.
May we all, then, pray together so that through these events the Church will
undertake a true journey of discernment and adopt the necessary pastoral means
to help families face their present challenges with the light and strength that
comes from the Gospel.
I am writing this letter to you on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in
the Temple. The evangelist Luke tells us that the Blessed Mother and St.
Joseph, in keeping with the Law of Moses, took the Baby Jesus to the temple to
offer him to the Lord, and that an elderly man and woman, Simeon and Anna,
moved by the Holy Spirit, went to meet them and acknowledged Jesus as the
Messiah (cf. Luke 2:22-38). Simeon took him in his arms and thanked God that he
had finally “seen” salvation. Anna, despite her advanced age, found new vigor
and began to speak to everyone about the Baby. It is a beautiful image: two
young parents and two elderly people, brought together by Jesus. He is the one
who brings together and unites generations! He is the inexhaustible font of
that love which overcomes every occasion of self-absorption, solitude, and
sadness. In your journey as a family, you share so many beautiful moments:
meals, rest, housework, leisure, prayer, trips and pilgrimages, and times of
mutual support. … Nevertheless, if there is no love then there is no joy, and
authentic love comes to us from Jesus. He offers us his word, which illuminates
our path; he gives us the Bread of Life which sustains us on our journey.
Dear families, your prayer for the Synod of Bishops will be a precious treasure
which enriches the Church. I thank you, and I ask you to pray also for me, so
that I may serve the People of God in truth and in love. May the protection of
the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph always accompany all of you and help you to
walk united in love and in caring for one another. I willingly invoke on every
family the blessing of the Lord.
Read a related story from Vatican Information Service here: ARCHBISHOP PAGLIA: FAMILIES ARE A MAJORITY IN THE CHURCH