During the General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, the Holy Father said the next series of catecheses beginning with today's will reflect on the vulnerabilities of the family, "in the conditions of life that puts them to the test."
The trial to be explored today, he noted, is poverty. "Let us think of the many families who populate the outskirts of the megacities, but also the rural areas...How much poverty, how much degradation!"
To make matters worse, he underscored, wars take place, affecting the civilian populations, the families. "War is always a terrible thing ... War is truly 'the mother of all poverty,' it impoverishes the family, a great predator of life, of souls, and affects the most sacred and dearest ones," he said.
He lauded those families who even while enduring the greatest struggles, particularly those in war-torn areas, carry on with dignity. They are able to do this, the Pope noted, through trusting in the Lord.
"This lesson, however, should not justify our indifference, but rather increase our shame!" he said.
Francis went on to criticize those who consider family bonds to be secondary or unimportant to quality of life. “They do not understand anything!" he said. "Instead, we should kneel before these families, who are a true school of humanity that saves societies from barbarism.”
Today’s economies often promote individual well-being at the expense of the family, the Pope suggested.
“This is a serious contradiction! The immense work of the family is not quoted in financial statements, naturally! In fact, economy and politics are stingy with acknowledgements in this regard. Yet, the interior formation of the person and social circulation of affections have their pillar precisely there. If you take it away, it all comes down.”
“It is not just a matter of bread,” he said.
The Holy Father commented on the touching images of sick and malnourished children, who despite the odds, continue to study in schools "proudly showing their pencils and notebooks." "Children truly know that man does not live on bread alone!" Francis observed.
When there is poverty, children suffer, he said, "because they want love, the family bond." The Jesuit Pope noted that social poverty at times can destroy the family, pointing out how much families, in which parents are unemployed, suffer.
“We Christians should always be closer to the families tested by poverty," Francis urged.
Concluding his address, Pope Francis said that the Church, as a 'mother,' must never forget Her children, particularly through action and prayer. "Let us pray intensely to the Lord, that He shakes us, to make our Christian families protagonists of this revolution of family closeness, which is so necessary now!" he said.