In an address to crowds gathered at Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Saturday, Pope Francis exhorted Americans to take special care of children and grandparents, underscoring the crucial role of love without reserve in the preservation of the family.
“Hatred is not capable of dealing with any difficulty and overcoming any difficulty,” he said. “Division of hearts cannot overcome any difficulty. Only love. Only love is able to overcome it.”
Francis’ focus on cultivating love within the family spoke to the concerns of many Americans over the 21st century breakdown of the family unit with a dramatic uptick in the divorce rate, and threats to the nuclear family such as this year’s Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage. Leading up to his visit, many wondered how Pope Francis would address the challenges that face families in modern life.
“I would like just to offer two points about the family,” Francis said. “To take special care – some things that we really do have to take care of: children and grandparents.” Francis said that children are the force that move the family forward, while grandparents are the memory which maintains the family’s identity:
Children, whether they are young or older, they are the strength that moves us forward. We place our hope in them.
Grandparents are the living memory of the family. They passed on the faith, they transmitted the faith, to us.
Francis drove home the importance of caring for the youngest and eldest members of our families, saying: “To look after grandparents, to look after children, is the expression of love,” and he said that a people that does not care for these individuals, “is a people that has no future. Because it doesn’t have strength or the memory to go forward.”
Francis acknowledged the struggle of living an authentic, loving family life: “In families,” he said, “there are inimical relationships. Husbands and wives quarrel and end up badly separated. Never let the day end without making peace. In a family, you can’t finish the day off not being at peace.”
Watch Pope Francis’ full remarks below.