Pope Francis looks over an infant as he baptizes 32 children in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican Jan. 12. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
Looking ahead to October’s Extraordinary Assembly of the
Synod of Bishops, which will consider “the pastoral challenges to the family in
the context of evangelization,” Pope Francis has released a letter to families,
asking for their prayers as preparations for the synod are made.
Below is the full text of the letter, via
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.
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 Saint 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. Lk
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 vigour 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 Saint 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.