Pope Francis to families: You can help God achieve His dream

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Pope Francis appeared at Dublin's Croke Stadium to the sound of this song by Leonard Cohen. 

Thousands of families awaited him in the stadium, which has a capacity of 75,000 people. The party began with these dances... first by the little ones...

And then by their elders.

After, various families from around the world gave their testimonies, ranging from Ireland to India and including Iraq and Burkina Faso. This Irish family with 10 children, one of them a foster child, explained how family love changed their lives. The parents were former drug addicts. Other families spoke on remaining united, using new technology to improve their relationships or how to overcome situations as tragic as being persecuted simply for being a Christian, as was the case with this Iraqi family. 

“Today many Christians and others are building new lives in Iraq, often with the help of Christians from around the world. They are building new homes so that families can live together in peace again. Now, Holy Father, we can look once to the future with hope.”

They were accompanied at the vigil by the sister of Ragheed Ganni, an Iraqi priest killed by Islamic extremists and whose beatification process is underway. She gave the pope a book that tells his story. 

The singing and dancing didn't stop. Andrea Bocelli performed this spectacular rendition of “Ave Maria” by Schubert. 

Later, Pope Francis gave his address, explaining that life in the family is a source of holiness. 

“The vocation to love and to holiness is not something reserved for a privileged few. Even now, if we have eyes to see, we can see it being lived out all around us. It is silently present in the heart of all those families that offer love, forgiveness and mercy when they see the need.”

The pope explained that everyone is called to participate in the joy of life in the family, though he admitted it's not easy. The Holy Father gave this advice. 

“Small and simple gestures of forgiveness, renewed each day, are the base on which is constructed a solid Christian family life.”

Above all, there is something crucial for the survival of families: forgiveness.

“Children learn to forgive when they see that their parents forgive one another. If we understand this, we can appreciate the greatness of Jesus' teaching on fidelity in marriage.”

Pope Francis again asserted the importance of grandparents as teachers of family life. 

“A society, listen to this closely, a society that doesn't value grandparents is a society with no future.”

To conclude, the Holy Father didn't want to leave without giving the families a word of encouragement and reminding them of their fundamental role in the world and the Church. 

“You all, families, are the hope of the Church and the world. With your testimony of the Gospel, you can help God achieve His dream, you can help join all children of God, so that they grow in unity and learn what it means for the entire world to live in peace as one big family.”

Late into the evening, the pope ended the encounter by reciting in English with the families the prayer composed in honor of the occasion. 

As a final surprise, singer Andrea Bocelli gave an encore performance with a moving version of “Nessun Dorma.” 

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