As he prepared to travel to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families, Pope Francis said he hoped his visit would "remind us all of the essential place of the family in the life of society and in the building of a better future for today's young people."
The Vatican released a three-minute video message from the pope Aug. 21 in anticipation of his trip to Dublin and to Knock Aug. 25-26.
The video included very brief passages in English, a language the pope studied in Ireland for a few months in 1980. He said, "I am excited to think I come back to Ireland!"
The World Meeting of Families, he said, "is a celebration of the beauty of God's plan for the family. It is also an occasion for families from all over the world to meet and support one another in living out their special vocation."
Pope Francis said he recognized that "families today face many challenges in their efforts to embody faithful love, to bring up children with sound values and to be a leaven of goodness, love and mutual concern in the larger community," and he said he knew his listeners already know that.
Referring to Ireland's great strides in overcoming years of Catholic-Protestant strife, Pope Francis said he also prayed his trip would "further the growth of unity and reconciliation" among all Christians "as a sign of that lasting peace which is God's dream for our whole human family."
"I ask everyone to pray that this great festival will be a moment of joy and serenity, a caress of Jesus' tender love for all families, and indeed, for all God's children," the pope said.