Delivering his Wednesday general audience address a little more than a week after the close of the Synod on the Family, Pope Francis spoke on the role of forgiveness in helping families become a force for the betterment of society. “The practice of forgiveness not only preserves families from division,” but allows them to aid society in becoming “less evil and cruel,” the Pope said during his Nov. 4 weekly audience address in St. Peter's Square. “Christian families can do a great deal for today's society, as well as for the Church,” he said. The pontiff also spoke on the role of the recent Synod on the Family in “reviving our hope” in the family's vocation and mission in the context of forgiveness. Pope Francis reflected on the recently concluded Synod on the Family, describing it as an “event of grace.” This year's Synod, which ran from Oct. 4-25, was the second and larger of two such gatherings to take place in the course of a year. Like its 2014 precursor, the focus of the 2015 Synod of Bishops was the family, this time with the theme: “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the modern world.” At the conclusion of the three-week Synod, the Vatican released a final document based on the gathering's theme compiled and voted upon by its participants. Pope Francis is expected to write an Apostolic Exhortation on the theme of the family based on this document. While the Pope is still reviewing the final document, he explained that he wanted it to be publicized so that the public could have a part in the fruit of the past two year's work. “I wanted the text to be published in order that everyone might participate in the work which he have seen undertaken together for two years,” he said. Meanwhile, while he is reviewing the document, life continues to move forward, especially for families, he said. “You are continuously writing of the beauty of the Gospel in the family in the pages of real life,” the Pope remarked. “In a world which at times is barren of life and love, you speak every day of the great gifts which are marriage and the family.” Pope Francis compared the family to a gym in which “reciprocal forgiveness” is exercised. “No love can endure for long,” without self-gift and forgiveness, he said, reflecting on the “Our Father” prayer which calls us to forgive as we ourselves are forgiven. “We cannot live without forgiveness — or, at least, we cannot live well, especially in the family.” Forgiveness should be exercised every day, the Pope continued, saying we must take into account our fragility and pride. He also warned against allowing too much time to pass before forgiving; otherwise, it becomes more difficult. “Do not allow the day to end without saying I'm sorry, without making peace between husband and wife, between parents and children, between brother and sister... between daughter-in-law and mother-in-law!” In learning to forgive and ask forgiveness, wounds are healed, marriage is strengthened, and the family becomes fortified against our own acts of meanness, both small and great, the Pope said. “Don't finish the day at war, understand?” Pope Francis offered his assurance to families that, by walking in the path of the Beatitudes as recounted in Matthew's Gospel, and by learning to forgive and be forgiven, “everyone in the great family of the Church will develop the ability to give witness to the renewing power of God's forgiveness.” For this reason, he expressed his desire for families to rediscover the “treasure” of reciprocal forgiveness during the Jubilee of Mercy. “We pray that families may always be more able to live and build concrete paths of reconciliation, where no one feels abandoned to the weight of his debts.”
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