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At the General Audience the Holy Father speaks about siblings – From the same flesh

At the General Audience the Holy Father speaks about siblings – From the same flesh

It is necessary to “place fraternity
back at the centre of our technocratic and bureaucratic society”. These were
the words of Pope Francis at the General Audience in St Peter’s Square on
Wednesday, 18 February, as he continued a cycle of teachings on the Family. The
following is a translation of the Holy Father’s catechesis, which was delivered
in Italian.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Good morning,

In our continuing catechesis on the family,
after having considered the roles of the mother, the father, the children,
today we shall reflect on siblings. “Brother” and “sister” are words
that Christianity really loves. And, thanks to the family experience, they are
words that all cultures and all times comprehend.

fraternal bond holds a special place in the history of the People of God,
who received his revelation at the core of human experience. The Psalmist sings
of the beauty of the fraternal bond: “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when
brothers dwell in unity!” (Ps 133[132]:1). And this is true, brotherhood is
beautiful! Jesus Christ also brought to its fullness this human experience of
being brothers and sisters, embracing it in Trinitarian love and thereby empowering
it to go well beyond the ties of kinship and enabling it to surmount every
barrier of extraneousness.

know that when the fraternal relationship is destroyed, when the
relationship between siblings is destroyed, the road is open to painful experiences
of conflict, of betrayal, of hate. The biblical account of Cain and Abel is
an example of this negative outcome. After the killing of Abel, God asks Cain:
“Where is Abel you brother?” (Gen 4:9a). It is a question that the Lord
continues to repeat to every generation. And unfortunately, in every
generation, Cain’s dramatic answer never ceases to be repeated: “I do not know;
am I my brother’s keeper?” (ibid., 4:9b). The rupture of the bond
between siblings is a nasty, bad thing for humanity. In the family too, how
many siblings quarrel over little things, or over an inheritance, and then they
no longer speak to each other, they no longer greet one another. This is
terrible! Brotherhood is a great thing, when we consider that all our brothers
and sisters lived in the womb of the same mother for nine months, came from the
mother’s flesh! Brotherhood cannot be broken. Let us consider: we all know
families that have divided siblings, who have quarrelled; let us ask the Lord —
perhaps in our family there are a few cases — to help for these families to
reunite their siblings, to rebuild the family. Brotherhood must not be broken
and when it breaks, what happened to Cain and Abel occurs. When the Lord asks
Cain where his brother is, he replies: “I do not know, my brother does not
matter to me”. This is terrible, it is a very, very painful thing to hear. In
our prayers let us always pray for siblings who are at odds.

the bond of fraternity which forms in the family between children
arise in an educational atmosphere of openness to others, it is the great
school of freedom and peace. In the family, among siblings, human coexistence
is learned, how one must share in society. Perhaps we are not always aware of
it, but the family itself introduces
fraternity into the world! Beginning with this first experience of fraternity,
nourished by affection and education at home, the style of fraternity radiates
like a promise upon the whole of society and on its relations among peoples.

blessing that God, in Jesus Christ, pours out on this bond of
fraternity, expands in an unimaginable way. He renders it capable of
overcoming all differences of nationality, language, culture and even

what becomes of the bond between men and women, even when completely different
from each other, when they are able to say of another: “He is truly like a
brother, she is just like a sister to me!”. This is beautiful! History has
shown well enough, after all, that even freedom and equality, without
brotherhood, can be full of individualism and conformism, and even personal

fraternity shines in a special way when we see the care, the patience, the
affection that envelop the weakest little brother or sister, sick or
physically challenged. There are countless brothers and sisters who do this,
throughout the world, and perhaps we do not appreciate their generosity enough.
And when there are many siblings in a family — today, I greeted a family that
has nine children?: the eldest boy or girl, helps the dad, the mom, to take
care of the younger children. This work of helping among siblings is beautiful.

a brother, a sister, who loves you is a deep, precious, irreplaceable
experience. Christian fraternity happens in the same way. The smallest, the
weakest, the poorest soften us: they have the “right” to take our heart and
soul. Yes, they are our brothers and sisters and as such we must love and care
for them. When this happens, when the poor are like family members, our own
Christian fraternity comes to life again. Christians, in fact, go to meet the
poor and the weak not to obey an ideological programme, but because the word
and the example of the Lord tell us that we are all brothers and sisters. This
is the principle of God’s love and of all justice among men. I should like to
suggest something: before concluding, just a few words, in silence each of us,
let us think of our brothers, our sisters, and from our heart let us pray in
silence for them. A moment of silence.

then, with this prayer we have brought all, brothers and sisters, with our
thoughts, with our hearts, here to the Square to receive the blessing.

more than ever it is necessary to place fraternity back at the centre of our
technocratic and bureaucratic society: then even freedom and equality will find
the correct balance. Therefore, let us not thoughtlessly deprive our families,
out of criticism or fear, of the beauty of a bountiful fraternal experience of
sons and daughters. And let us not lose our trust in the broad horizon faith is
able to draw from this experience, enlightened by God’s blessing.

and special greetings

would like once again to invite you to pray for our Egyptian brothers who three
days ago were killed in Libya for the sole fact of being Christians. May the
Lord welcome them to his house and give comfort to their families and their

us also pray for peace in the Middle East and in North Africa, remembering all
the victims, the wounded and the refugees. May the International Community find
peaceful solutions to the difficult situation in Libya.

greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s
Audience, including those from England, Japan and the United States of
America. Upon you and your families I cordially
invoke joy and peace in the Lord Jesus.
God bless you all!

address a warm welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. I greet in particular
the Rural Catechist Sisters of the Sacred Heart with the “Zambia for Life”
Association and the “Villa Maria” rehabilitation home in Monticello Conte Otto.
My thoughts go to the young people of International Catholic Charismatic
Renewal who, in various parts of the world today, are gathering in prayer for
an hour of Eucharistic adoration. I spiritually join them in expressing
appreciation for this initiative and I hope the new generations may
increasingly meet Christ.

greet the young people, the sick and newlyweds. Lent is a
favourable time to intensify your spiritual life: may the practice of fasting
be of help to you, dear young people, to acquire mastery over
yourselves; may prayer be for you, dear sick people, the means to
entrust your suffering to God and to feel in it his loving presence; lastly,
may works of mercy help you, dear newlyweds, to live your marital life
opening it to the needs of your brothers and sisters.

Happy Lent to all!

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