MEETING WITH AUTHORITIES, CIVIL SOCIETY AND DIPLOMATIC CORPS
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
Saturday, 25 August 2018
Members of Government and of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the beginning of my visit to Ireland, I am grateful for the invitation to address this distinguished assembly representing the civil, cultural and religious life of the country, together with the members of the diplomatic corps and guests. I appreciate the friendly welcome I have received from the President of Ireland, which reflects the tradition of cordial hospitality for which the Irish are known throughout the world. I likewise appreciate the presence of a delegation from Northern Ireland. I thank the Taoiseach for his words.
As you know, the reason for my visit is to take part in the World Meeting of Families, held this year in Dublin. The Church is, in a real way, a family among families, and senses the need to support families in their efforts to respond faithfully and joyfully to their God-given vocation in society. The Meeting is not only an opportunity for families to reaffirm their commitment to loving fidelity, mutual assistance and reverence for God’s gift of life in all its forms, but also to testify to the unique role played by the family in the education of its members and the development of a sound and flourishing social fabric.
I would like to see the World Meeting of Families as a prophetic witness to the rich patrimony of ethical and spiritual values that it is the duty of every generation to cherish and protect. One need not be a prophet to perceive the difficulties faced by our families in today’s rapidly evolving society, or to be troubled by the effects that breakdown in marriage and family life will necessarily entail for the future of our communities at every level. Families are the glue of society; their welfare cannot be taken for granted, but must be promoted and protected by every appropriate means.
It was in the family that each of us took his or her first steps in life. There we learned to live together in harmony, to master our selfish instincts and reconcile our differences, and above all to discern and seek those values that give authentic meaning and fulfilment to our lives. If we speak of our entire world as a single family, it is because we rightly acknowledge the bonds of our common humanity and we sense our call to unity and solidarity, especially with the weakest of our brothers and sisters. Yet all too often, we feel impotent before the persistent evils of racial and ethnic hatred, intractable conflicts and violence, contempt for human dignity and for fundamental human rights, and the growing divide between rich and poor. How much we need to recover, in every instance of political and social life, the sense of being a true family of peoples! And never to lose hope or the courage to persevere in the moral imperative to be peacemakers, reconcilers and guardians of one another.
The Gospel reminds us that true peace is ultimately God’s gift; it flows from a healed and reconciled heart and branches out to embrace the entire world. Yet it also requires constant conversion on our part, as the source of those spiritual resources needed to build a society of authentic solidarity, justice and service of the common good. Without that spiritual foundation, our ideal of a global family of nations risks becoming no more than another empty platitude. Can we say that the goal of creating economic or financial prosperity leads of itself to a more just and equitable social order? Or could it be that the growth of a materialistic “throwaway culture” has in fact made us increasingly indifferent to the poor and to the most defenceless members of our human family, including the unborn, deprived of the very right to life? Perhaps the most disturbing challenges to our consciences in these days is the massive refugee crisis, which will not go away, and whose solution calls for a wisdom, a breadth of vision and a humanitarian concern that go far beyond short-term political decisions.
It is my prayer that Ireland, in listening to the polyphony of contemporary political and social discussion, will not be forgetful of the powerful strains of the Christian message that have sustained it in the past, and can continue to do so in the future.
With these thoughts, I cordially invoke upon you, and upon all the beloved Irish people, God’s blessings of wisdom, joy and peace. Thank you.
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