Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Today we ask the Lord that all parents and educators in the world, as well as the whole society, be instruments of the acceptance and love with which Jesus embraces the little ones. He looks into their hearts with the tenderness and solicitude of a father and a mother at the same time. "
This was Pope Francis invocation and invitation before praying the Angelus with the pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square after the Mass that opened the Synod on the family.
The "little ones" of which the Pope speaks are primarily children and refugees: "I think of the many hungry children, abandoned, exploited, forced into the war, rejected. It is painful to see the images of unhappy children, looking lost, fleeing from poverty and conflicts, they are knocking on our doors and our hearts begging for help. The Lord help us not to be a fortified society, but family society, to welcome, with proper rules, but welcome, always welcome, with love. "
Indeed in the Mass which had just concluded, the pontiff spoke of the mission of the Church "in love", " doors wide open to whoever knocks in search of help and support; to reach out to others with true love, to walk with our fellow men and women who suffer, to include them and guide them to the wellspring of salvation. "
The Pope has asked all those present to "support with prayer the work of the Synod, that the Holy Spirit makes the Synod Fathers fully docile to His inspirations."
"The Synod Fathers - he said - from all over the world and gathered around the Successor of Peter, for three weeks will reflect on the vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in society, for careful spiritual and pastoral discernment. May we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus to find, on the basis of his teaching of truth and mercy, the most appropriate ways for adequate commitment of the Church with families and for families, because the Creator's original plan for man and woman can be implemented and operate in all its beauty and its strength in today's world. "
After the Marian prayer, Francis recalled that yesterday, in Santander, Spain, Pio Heredia and seventeen comrades of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance of Saint Bernard were beatified. They were killed for their faith during the Spanish Civil War and the religious persecution of the 1930. "We praise the Lord - he said - because of these courageous witnesses and with their intercession, we pray He may free the world from the scourge of war".
The Pope expressed his "concrete solidarity" to the victims of the landslide in Cambray in Guatemala (69 dead and 350 missing), and for those of the flood in Cannes and Nice, in southern France (with at least 12 deaths).