“It is the first time that the entire College of Cardinals gathers around you, pleased to accept your invitation to participate in an extraordinary consistory”, said Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals to Pope Francis, in this morning’s opening address for the extraordinary consistory on the family, held in the New Synod Hall. The consistory will conclude tomorrow afternoon.
Cardinal Sodano, mentioning those cardinals who were unable to travel to Rome for reasons of advanced age or health, affirmed that they all “assured their spiritual closeness and we feel they are present all the same … and send them a brotherly greeting from this Hall”.
To face a pastoral challenge as important as that of the family, both in this consistory and later in the next Synod, “the Pastors of the Church”, he continued, wish to assure the Pope that there will be no scarcity of that help that Pope Paul VI said he expected from the bishops following Vatican Council II, in the hope that he would never lack “the consolation of their presence, the help of their wisdom and experience, the support of their counsel, and the voice of their authority”.
“Holy Father”, he concluded, “you will certainly not lack the support of the Cardinal Fathers, who wish to face with a vision of faith and hope this complex period in human history”.
Pope Francis then greeted those present and gave thanks with them to the Lord “who grants us these days of encounter and work together. We especially welcome those brothers who on Saturday will be created cardinals, and accompany them with prayer and fraternal affection. I give thanks to Cardinal Sodano for his words”.
“In these days we will reflect, in particular, on the family, which is the fundamental cell of human society. Since the beginning the Creator gave His blessing to man and woman in order that they be fecund and multiply on earth; and thus is the family represented on earth as the reflection of the Triune God”.
“In our reflection we will always keep in mind the beauty of the family and of marriage, the greatness of this facet of human life, so simple and at the same time so rich, made up of joys and hopes, strife and suffering, like all of life. We will seek to deepen the theology of the family and the pastoral ministry that we must undertake in these current conditions. We will do so in depth and without falling into trap of “case studies”, as this would inevitably lead to a lowering of the level of our work. The family nowadays is regarded with disdain and maltreated, and what we ask for is recognition of how beautiful, true and good it is to form a family, to be a family today; how indispensable this is for the life of the world, for the future of humanity. We are asked to make evident God’s luminous plan on the family and to help married couples experience this with joy in their existence, accompanying them in many difficulties, with a pastoral ministry that is intelligent, courageous and full of love”.