The Holy Father made this powerful statement during today’s weekly general audience given in the Paul VI Audience Hall, just one day after the Epiphany.
Continuing his catechesis on the family, reflecting specifically on mothers, the Pope urged Christians to realize the essential role of mothers and to appreciate them properly.
“Without mothers, not only would there not be new believers, but the faith would lose a good part of its simple and profound warmness.”
Motherhood is more than childbearing, the Pope underscored, saying it is "a life choice" and a "giving of life," entailing three elements: sacrifice, respect for life, and passing on those human and religious values essential for a healthy society.
“Mothers are an antidote to the spread of a certain self-centeredness, a decline in openness, generosity and concern for others,” the Pope stressed.
The Argentine Pontiff lamented how mothers are often taken advantage of as they sacrifice themselves, even in Christian communities, and reminded the pilgrims how at the center of the life of the Church is the Mother of Jesus.
Francis recalled that Archbishop Oscar Romero spoke of a “martyrdom of mothers,” stating that: “Giving life does not only mean to be killed; giving life, to have the spirit of martyrdom, is to give in duty, in silence, in prayer, in the silence of daily life … giving life gradually.”
The Pope reflected that this is exactly what mothers do, as well as calling on the faithful to understand more their daily struggles in raising a loving family.
In the first prayers and religious gestures that children learn, even before they know the explanations, “mothers transmit the most profound sense of religious practice,” the Pope said.
Not only is the "seed of faith" planted and begins growing in these first, very precious moments, but mothers also, the Pope said, inscribe in children the value of faith.
To the mothers present and to all around the world, Francis thanked them for all they do for their families, the Church and the world.
Concluding his address, Pope Francis called for applause for all mothers.