Pope Francis: “Fatherhood is giving life to others”

From Pope Francis’ homily during Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae chapel, via Vatican Radio:

“When a man does not have this desire [for fatherhood], something is missing in this man. Something is wrong. All of us, to exist, to become complete, in order to be mature, we need to feel the joy of fatherhood: even those of us who are celibate. Fatherhood is giving life to others, giving life, giving life…For us, it is pastoral paternity, spiritual fatherhood, but this is still giving life, this is still becoming fathers.”

Pope Francis was inspired by Wednesday’s passage from Genesis, in which God promises Abram the old joy of a child, along with descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven. To seal this covenant, Abram follows God’s directions and prepares a sacrifice of animals, which he then defends from attack by birds of prey. “It moves me,” said the Pope, “to picture this ninety year old man with a stick in his hand,” defending his sacrifice. “It makes me think of a father defending his family, his children.”

“A father who knows what it means to protect his children. And this is a grace that we priests must ask for ourselves: to be a father, to be a father. The grace of fatherhood, of pastoral paternity, of spiritual paternity. We may have many sins, but this is commune sanctorum: We all have sins. But not having children, never becoming a father, it like an incomplete life: a life that stops half-way. And therefore we have to be fathers. But it is a grace that the Lord gives. People say to us: ‘Father, Father, Father…’ They want us to be this, fathers, by the grace of pastoral fatherhood.”

… “We thank God for this grace of fatherhood in the Church, which is passed from father to son, and so on… And I think, finally, these two icons and one more: the icon of Abram who asks for a child, the icon of Abraham with a stick in his hand, defending his family, and the icon of the elderly Simeon in the Temple, when he receives the new life : this is a spontaneous liturgy, the liturgy of joy, in Him.”

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Catherine Harmon is managing editor of Catholic World Report.