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Full text of the Pope's speech to the families of Mexico

2016-02-16

POPE'S SPEECH TO FAMILIES IN TUXTLA GUTIERREZ

Dear brothers and sisters,

I thank God for being here, on Chiapaneca soil. It feels good to be here on this soil, on this 
land; it is good to be here in this place which, with you here, has a family flavour, a home flavour. I 
give thanks for your faces and your presence; I give thanks to God because of the heart-beat of his 
presence in your families. I also thank you, families and friends, for giving us your witness, for 
opening to us the doors of your homes, the doors of your lives; you have allowed us to sit with you 
sharing both in the bread that nourishes you and in the sweat of your brow as you face the 
difficulties of every day. It is the bread representing the joys, the hopes and the hard sweat with 
which you confront sadness, disillusion and failings. I thank you for allowing me to enter into your 
families, your homes, and to sit at your tables.

Manuel, before thanking you for your testimony, I want to thank your parents who both 
knelt in front of you holding up the paper you read from. What a striking image! Two parents on 
their knees before their son who is ill. Let us never forget this image. They probably fall out now 
and again but which husband and wife doesn’t? And when mother-in-laws are involved, even more 
so, but this does not matter: they love each other. They have shown us that they love each other 
and, out of this love, they can kneel before their infirm son. Thank you friends for this testimony 
which you gave us and I encourage you to carry on forwards. Thank you! And you, Manuel, I 
thank you for your witness and especially for your example. I liked the expression you used "to put 
your heart into it” [echarle ganas] describing the attitude you took after speaking with your parents. 
You began to put your heart into your life, your family, your friends; you put your heart into us 
gathered here. Thank you. I believe that this is what the Holy Spirit always wants to do in our 
midst: to put a new heart into us, giving us reasons to keep on taking risks for the good of the 
family, dreaming and building a life that has this sense of home, of family. Do we put our heart 
into it? [They reply, "yes”]. Thank you! 

This is something which God the Father has always dreamt of and for which God the Father 
has fought for a very long time. When everything seemed lost that afternoon in the Garden of Eden,
God the Father put a new heart into that young couple and told them that everything was not lost. 
And when the people of Israel felt that they could not go on journeying through the desert, God the 
Father put his heart into it by giving them manna from heaven. And when the fullness of time 
came, God the Father put his heart into it, into humanity, by sending us his Son.
Similarly, all of us here have had this experience, in different moments and different ways; 
God the Father has put his heart into it for us. We can ask ourselves: why? Because he cannot do 
otherwise. God our Father does not know how do to anything else but love us and put his best into 
us, encouraging us, helping us move forward... for he can do thing else, because his name is love, 
his name is gift, his name is self-giving, his name is mercy. This he has shown us with complete 
power and clarity in Jesus, his Son, who risked everything to the end so as to once again make 
possible the Kingdom of God. A Kingdom that invites us to share in a new mindset, that puts into 
motion a dynamic power capable of opening the heavens, capable of opening our hearts, our minds, 
our hands and capable of challenging us with new possibilities. This is a Kingdom which has the 
feeling of family, the flavour of a life shared. In Jesus and with Jesus this Kingdom is possible. He 
is capable of changing our perspectives, attitudes, and feelings, which are often watery and dulled 
into party wine, superficial. He can heal our hearts and invite us again and again, seventy times 
seven, to begin anew. He can make all things new.

Manuel, you asked me to pray for the many adolescents who are disillusioned and on a 
wrong path. How well we know this. Many adolescents who are deflated, tired and without 
aspirations. And as you yourself rightly said, this attitude often comes from a feeling of loneliness, 
from not having someone to talk to. Think of fathers and mothers: do they speak to their sons or 
daughters or are they always busy or in a rush? Do they play with their children? This reminds me 
of the witness which Beatrice gave us. Beatrice, you said: "the struggle has always been difficult because of uncertainty and loneliness”. How many times did you feel singled out, judged: "that 
one”? Let us think of all those people, of all those women who go through what Beatrice went 
through. Uncertainty, insufficiency, and often not having the bare essentials, can lead to despair, 
can make us deeply anxious because we cannot see a way to go on, especially when we have 
children in our care. Uncertainty is not only a threat to our stomach (which is already serious), but 
it can also threaten our soul, demoralizing us and taking away our energy so that we seek apparent 
solutions that in the end solve nothing. And you were brave Beatrice, thank you. There is a kind of 
uncertainty which can be very dangerous, which can creep in surreptitiously; it is the uncertainty 
born of solitude and isolation. And isolation is always a bad counsellor. 

Manuel and Beatrice both used, without realizing it, the same expression; both showed us 
that very often the greatest temptation we face is to cut ourselves off, and far from putting our heart 
into things, this attitude of isolation ends up, like a moth, corroding and wither our souls. 
The way to overcome the uncertainty and isolation which makes us vulnerable to so many 
apparent solutions – as Beatrice mentioned – can be found on different levels. One is through 
legislation which protects and guarantees the bare necessities of life so that every home and every 
person can develop through education and dignified employment. There is, on the other hand, what 
the witness of Humberto and Claudia made evident when they explained how they tried to convey 
to others the love of God that they experienced through service and generous giving. Laws and 
personal commitment make good duo that can break the spiral of uncertainty. And you have the 
inspiration, you pray, and you are united to Jesus, and you are involved in the life of the Church. You used a beautiful expression: "Let us take communion with the brother who is weak, ill, needy, 
in prison”. Thank you. Thank you. 

Today we see how on different fronts the family is weakened and questioned. It is regarded 
as a model which has done its time, but which has no place in our societies; these, claiming to be 
modern, increasingly favour a model based on isolation. Societies become increasingly inoculated 
– they refer to themselves as societies which are free, democratic, sovereign – but they are 
inoculated by ideological colonizations which destroy; and we end up being ideological colonies 
that then have a destructive effect on families, the family cell, which is the basis of every healthy
society.

It is true that living in family is not always easy, and can often be painful and stressful but, 
as I have often said referring to the Church, I prefer a wounded family that makes daily efforts to 
put love into play, to a family and society that is sick from isolationism or a habitual fear of love. I 
prefer a family that makes repeated efforts to begin again, to a family and society that is narcissistic 
and obsessed with luxury and comfort. How many children do you have? "No, we don’t have 
children as we like to go on holidays, be tourists, and I want to buy a villa”. Luxury and comfort 
without children, and yet, when you then want a child, it’s too late. This is so harmful, is it not? I 
prefer a family with tired faces from generous giving, to a family with faces full of makeup that 
know nothing of tenderness and compassion. I prefer a man and a woman, don Aniceto and his 
wife, with faces that are wrinkled due to the daily struggles over the 50 years of strong married 
love; and here we have them, and their son has learned the lesson from them and is now 25 years married. These are families. When I asked don Aniceto and his wife which of them showed more 
patience during these last 50 years, they replied "Both us, Father”. Because in order to get to the 
point they have reached after 50 years, you need patience, love and mutual forgiveness. "Father, a 
perfect family never gets into arguments”. This is not true, it is quite helpful when couples argue 
now and again and when the odd plate is thrown: it’s okay, do not be afraid. My only advice is that 
they never let the sun set without making peace, because if they are at odds with each other at the 
end of the day, they will wake up to a cold war, a cold war is very dangerous in the family because 
it undermines, from within, the hard earned wrinkles of conjugal fidelity. Thank you for the testimony of loving each other for over 50 years. Thank you.

And speaking of wrinkles, to change the subject a little, I remember the testimony of a great 
actress – an actress of Latin American films – almost in her sixties, and showing some wrinkles on 
her face. She was advised to have some work done on her face so as to carry on working 
successfully. Her response was quite clear: "These wrinkles cost me a lot of work, much effort, 
much pain and a full life, so I would never even dream of touching them; they are the signs of my 
life history. And I am still a great actress”. The same thing happens in marriage. Married life has 
to be renewed every day. And, as I said before, I prefer families with wrinkles, with wounds, and 
scars, but who carry on moving forwards; for these wounds, scars and wrinkles are the fruit of a 
faithful love which has had its share of difficulties. Love is not easy, it not easy, but the most 
beautiful thing is when a man and a woman can offer each other true love and offer it for life. 

I have been asked to pray for you and I want to do so now. You Mexicans have something 
extra; you run ahead with an advantage. You have a Mother, la Guadalupana. La Guadalupana 
wanted to visit this land and this gives us the certainty of her intercession so that our dream, which 
we call the family, may not be lost through uncertainty or solitude. She is a Mother and is always 
ready to defend our families, our future; she is always ready to put her heart into it by giving us her 
Son. For this reason, I invite you, as you are, without moving around too much, to hold hands and 
address her together: "Hail Mary...”.

And let us not forget Saint Joseph, quiet, a worker, but always at the forefront looking after 
his family. Thank you, and may God bless you. And pray for me. 

And now I would like to invite, in the context of this celebration of the family, married 
couples here present, in silence, to renew their marriage vows. And those who are preparing for 
marriage, ask for the grace of a faithful family, full of love. In silence, renew your marriage vows 
and fiancées pray for the grace of fidelity and love in the family.