Pope Francis opened the Ecclesial Convention of the Diocese of Rome on Monday night, emphasizing the Church’s role of Mother in a society where more and more children are leading the life of an orphan.
Pope Francis began his remarks by stating that over the past year, he has made numerous parish visits in the Diocese of Rome, where he has met a great number of people, however briefly.
“They have expressed their hopes and expectations, along with their pains and problems,” he said.
The Holy Father noted that many people feel “disoriented”, with the difficulties of life, often lacking meaning and value. He then imagined the “hectic day” of a parent: getting up early, getting the children to school, the long commute to and from work.
“He begins to feel a weight on him which is crushing,” Pope Francis said. “And we ask ourselves: But is this life? Then, in our hearts, arises the question: How can we do this to our children – our children – and give a sense to their lives? Because they feel the way we sometimes live our lives is inhuman, and do not know which way to go so that life is beautiful, and you are content to get up in the morning.”
The Holy Father lamented the fact that many men do not have time to play with their children, and said it leaves the child like an orphan.
“Orphans, with no memories of the family, because…their grandparents have been moved away to a nursing home,” he said. “Orphans without affection or love today because everyone is in too much of a hurry: Dad is tired, mom is tired…they are orphaned!”
Pope Francis reminded them Jesus said he would not leave us orphans.
“How can we not feel a burning in the heart and say to everyone, especially young people: You are not an orphan. Jesus Christ has revealed to us that God is our Father and want to help you, because he loves you?” Pope Francis asked.
He lamented a culture that leaves young people orphaned without jobs, and multiplies the opportunities for pleasure, distraction, curiosity, but “is not able to bring man to true joy.”
Pope Francis said the Church needs to be a Mother, not a “well-organized NGO with a bunch of pastoral plans”.
“Being in the Church is being at home with mom,” he said. The Holy Father said without this, going to Church becomes like going to an institution, and gives it the identity of a football team, where people are just “fans” of being Catholic.
He said people need to feel the “tenderness” of a Mother in the Church.
“We have to always welcome people with a big heart, like family,” he said.
This is especially true in dealing with young people, and the Pope said the Church must encourage the participation of the youth.
Pope Francis concluded his remarks by thanking the parish priests present.
“The Italian Church is strong thanks to the parish priests,” he said.