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Courageous and loving pastoral care

· Pope Francis opens an Extraordinary Consistory on the family ·

On Thursday, 20 February, the Holy Father opened an Extraordinary Consistory in the Hall of the Synod of Bishops. The consistory concludes today, Friday 21. At the opening, the Pope welcomed the Cardinals and thanked “the Lord who has given us these days of meeting and working together”.

He reflected on their work, which he hoped would be thoughtful — “without falling into ‘casuistry’”. “We are called,” he said, “to make known God’s magnificent plan for the family and to help spouses joyfully experience this plan in their lives, as we accompany them amidst so many difficulties with a pastoral care that is sound, courageous and full of love”.

It was an important meeting in view of the upcoming Assemblies of the Synod of Bishops: the extraordinary assembly which will be held this October and the ordinary assembly which is scheduled for 2015. Both meetings will be centred on the theme of the family, which, the Pope lamented is “looked down upon and mistreated” in today’s society.

“Our reflections”, the Holy Father said in front of 150 cardinals, “must keep before us the beauty of the family and marriage, the greatness of this human reality which is so simple and yet so rich, consisting of joys and hopes, of struggles and sufferings, as is the whole of life”.

Before the Pope spoke, the Cardinal Dean, Angelo Sodano, greeted those present. After the Holy Father’s address, Cardinal Walter Kasper offered a lengthy reflection on the family. As requested by the Pope, he presented an outline of how the family is viewed today and its profound role in the plan of God. The beauty of the family is proclaimed by the Gospel; it’s integrity is crucial for the good of every person and all humanity.

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