During the final Mass at the 9th World Meeting of Families in Phoenix Park, Pope Francis gave a missionary mandate to families, bearers of the "joy of the Gospel". He cited the example of Saint Columban who "brought the light of the Gospel to the lands of Europe in an age of darkness and cultural dissolution.” However, the service began unexpectedly with a long penitential moment, with requests for forgiveness for the abuses by the members of the Church, for the ineptitude of pastors who failed to see what was happening; for the children torn from their single mothers. The next World Meeting of Families is set for Rome in 2021.
Dublin (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis led the final Mass for the World Meeting of Families in Dublin’s Phoenix Park under a downpour. In his address, the Holy Father said that thanks to "a domestic Pentecost" that encourages, Christian families can become "a source of encouragement to others", removing barriers to "reconcile the world", thus becoming bearers of the "joy of the Gospel". The pope also compared the vocation of families to that of Thérèse of the Child Jesus, patron saint of missions, to be the "love in the heart of the Church".
In an unrehearsed manner and speaking in Spanish, Pope Francis began with a penitential moment, in which he said he met eight people who were victims of sexual abuse by Irish clergy. He asked forgiveness for the abuse; he asked for healing for those who were wounded and for the ineptitude of the pastors who failed to see what was happening; he asked for mercy for the children torn from single mothers and forcibly given in adoption to others. At every request for forgiveness, the faithful applauded warmly.
“Each new day in the life of our families, and each new generation, brings the promise of a new Pentecost, a domestic Pentecost, a fresh outpouring of the Spirit, the Paraclete, whom Jesus sends as our Advocate, our Consoler and indeed our Encourager.
“How much our world needs this encouragement that is God’s gift and promise! As one of the fruits of this celebration of family life, may you go back to your homes and become a source of encouragement to others, to share with them Jesus’ ‘words of eternal life’.”
The Pope noted the challenges and difficulties in bearing witness to the Good News. “Yet the challenges that Christians face today are, in their own way, no less difficult than those faced by the earliest Irish missionaries. I think of Saint Columbanus, who with his small band of companions brought the light of the Gospel to the lands of Europe in an age of darkness and cultural dissolution. Their extraordinary missionary success was not based on tactical methods or strategic plans, but on a humble and liberating docility to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. It was their daily witness of fidelity to Christ and to each other that won hearts yearning for a word of grace and helped give birth to the culture of Europe. That witness remains a perennial source of spiritual and missionary renewal for God’s holy and faithful people.”
“But let us also humbly acknowledge that, if we are honest with ourselves, we too can find the teachings of Jesus hard. How difficult it is always to forgive those who hurt us; how challenging always to welcome the migrant and the stranger; how painful joyfully to bear disappointment, rejection or betrayal; how inconvenient to protect the rights of the most vulnerable, the unborn or the elderly, who seem to impinge upon our own sense of freedom.
“Yet it is precisely at those times that the Lord asks us: ‘What about you, do you want to go away too?’ With the strength of the Spirit to ‘encourage’ us and with the Lord always at our side, we can answer: ‘We believe; we know that you are the Holy One of God’ (Jn 6:69).
“Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, each Christian is sent forth to be a missionary, ‘a missionary disciple’ (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 120). The Church as a whole is called to ‘go forth’ to bring the words of eternal life to all the peripheries of our world. May our celebration today confirm each of you, parents and grandparents, children and young people, men and women, religious brothers and sisters, contemplatives and missionaries, deacons and priests, to share the joy of the Gospel! Share the Gospel of the family as joy for the world!
“As we now prepare to go our separate ways, let us renew our fidelity to the Lord and to the vocation he has given to each of us. Taking up the prayer of Saint Patrick, let each of us repeat with joy: ‘Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me’. With the joy and strength given by the Holy Spirit, let us say to him with confidence: ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life’ (Jn 6:68).”
Before the final blessing, in his thanks to the pope, Card Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, announced that the next World Meeting of Families will be held in Rome in 2021.
Before the final wrap-up, Francis thanked the organisers of the World Meeting of Families and civil authorities for their work. He especially thanked “all the people who prayed for this Day: seniors, children, men and women religious, sick, prison inmates . . . I am sure that the success of this Day is due to their simple and persevering prayers. Thank you all! May the Lord reward you!"
At the end of the celebration, the pontiff went to the convent of the Dominican Sisters, where he met with Irish bishops. From there, the Pope travelled to the airport for his return to Rome, scheduled for 23 pm tonight.