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Letter of the Holy Father Francis to the President of the Pontifical Council for The Family for the Eight World Meeting of Families (Philadelphia, 22 - 27 September 2015)

To my esteemed Brother,
Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia,
President of the Pontifical Council for the Family
At the close of the Seventh World Meeting of Families, Pope Benedict XVI announced that the next gathering would be hosted in the City of Philadelphia in the United States. I have confirmed that choice on several occasions, and I look forward with confidence and hope to this grace-filled event, which, God willing, I will attend.
The Meeting will take place between September 22 and September 27, 2015, and its theme will be “Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.”
Today as in the past, the mission of the Christian family is to proclaim God’s love to the world through the power of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. From this proclamation itself, life-filled families are born and built up, and the center of their human and spiritual dynamism is a loving hearth and home. If it is true that, in the words of St. Irenaeus of Lyons, “Human life is God’s glory.” (Adv. Haer., IV, 20, 7), it is also true that families give glory to God when, relying on His grace, they live their vocation and their mission to the full.
The Church recently held a Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the subject of “The Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelization.” In an exercise of synodality, we identified the most pressing questions that affect the family in our pluralistic society. Basically, “We cannot put the family into ideological categories, we cannot speak of a conservative family and a liberal family. Family is family!” (Address to the Participants in the International Colloquium on the Complementarity between Man and Woman, November 17, 2014). The values and virtues of the family – its essential truths – are the family unit’s strengths and are not open to challenge. Rather, it is our own way of life that we must re-examine. It runs a continual risk of being “infected” by worldly attitudes – individualist, consumption-driven, sensual – but our people’s task is to keep to the high road, where they live out, and are examples of, the beauty of Holy Matrimony and of the joy of being and forming a family.
The direction given by the Final Report of the recent Synod, as well as that which is guiding the way toward the Ordinary Assembly to be held in October of 2015, invite us to continue our commitment to preaching the Gospel of Holy Matrimony and the family, and to testing pastoral initiatives against the social and cultural context in which we live. The challenges of that context will move us to make increasingly more room for that faithful love which is open to life, to communion, to mercy, to sharing and to solidarity. Accordingly, I urge husbands and wives, priests and parish communities, and the movements and association as well, to let themselves be led by the Word of God, which is the foundation of the holy edifice that is the family – the domestic Church, the family of God (cf. Con. Oecu. Vat. II, Cost. Dogm. De Eccl.Lumen Gentium, 6:11)
I appreciate the generous cooperation and organizing commitment that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is contributing to the Universal Church and to families from the several Continents. I ask the Lord to reward this beloved Local Church, even now, with abundant heavenly blessings.
Invoking the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Aparecida, I am pleased to bestow upon you, dear Brother, and on the staff of your Council, my Apostolic Blessing, which I gladly extend to all who are working on the preparations for the Meeting. And I ask you please to pray for me.
Vatican City, December 9, 2014
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