Speaking in front of a large crowd of pilgrims in St. Peters Square, Pope Francis announced the start of a new cycle of teachings focusing on the problems that families face.
The Pope began by speaking about poverty. He mentioned the poor families who populate the outskirts of megacities; those who suffer because of unemployment; and those who feel the consequences of war, which he called "the mother of all poverty.”
The Pope said it's very admirable when families are able to stay together despite these difficult situations.
"This lesson must not justify our indifference but increase our shame. There is so much poverty. We should kneel before these families, which are a true school of humanity that save society from barbarism.”
Pope Francis harshly criticized individualistic culture and consumerism. He said that societies today promote selfish individualism, contrary to what the family promotes. In families, everything is shared. People make sacrifices for each other and the weaker members find protection. He said that those who promote individual wellbeing only just don’t understand.
"This irritates those wellbeing planners who consider affection, heritage, and family ties a secondary variable of life. They do not understand anything.”
Governments should help promote civil ethics that protect the family from poverty, said the Pope. He added that the Church must also set an example.
"The Church is a mother and must not forget the drama of her children. Also, she must be poor to be fruitful and respond to misery.”
At the conclusion of the general audience Pope Francis expressed his closeness with families who lost loved ones in the recent cruise ship disaster in China. The passenger ship "Eastern Star" with more than 400 people aboard capsized in rough weather on Monday while navigating the Yangtse river. Pope Francis offered his prayers for the victims and their families.