The devil wants to destroy the family, the “domestic church,” Pope Francis told a rally for charismatic Catholics on Sunday.
Held at Rome’s soccer stadium, the National Convocation of the Renewal of the Spirit included praise music and a flash mob, and was intended to boost the faith of the 50,000 Catholics who participated. The pope also heard testimony from a priest, a young man, a family, and a disabled woman.
After hearing the testimony from a family of five, the pope said families face attacks from the devil because Jesus grows in parents’ love and children’s lives. He asked God to bless families and to give them strength to withstand the devil’s attacks.
Following reports that birthrates have dropped in several countries, the pope used Monday’s mass to criticize couples who substitute pets for children, Religion News Service reported. Though childless marriages may be “more comfortable,” they end in loneliness, he said. Marriage requires perseverance: “Perseverance in love, in good times and in difficult times, when there are problems: problems with the children, economic problems,” he said.
In October, bishops from all over the world will gather for a synod in Rome to discuss “pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.” The pope seemed to indicate the meeting itinerary would include marriage annulments and communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, Catholic News Service (CNS) reported.
Pope Francis announced the synod last year after the Archdiocese of Freiburg, Germany, eased rules addressing divorced and remarried Catholics’ ability to take communion. Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told CNS that local pastoral solutions like the one in Germany could generate confusion. “The Holy Father is placing the pastoral care of the family at the heart of a synod process that will be larger, involving the reflection of the universal church,” he said.