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Society needs you, Pope Francis tells large families

Pope Francis arrives at the Paul VI hall for a meeting with large families (AP)

Large families benefit society by offering a “model for solidarity and sharing”, the Pope has said.

Addressing an estimated 7,000 members of the Italian National Association of Large Families at the Paul VI Audience Hall, Francis said: “In a world often marked by selfishness, the large family is a model for solidarity and sharing, and this attitude then becomes a benefit for the whole society.”

He continued: “The presence of large families is a hope for society. And for this reason, the presence of grandparents is very important: a precious presence for both practical help and above all, educational support.

“Grandparents preserve in themselves the values of a people, of a family, and help parents to transmit them to children. In the last century, in many countries of Europe, the grandparents were those who transmitted the faith: they secretly brought the child to receive baptism and transmitted the faith to them.”

The Pope also urged policy-makers to support larger families.

“I hope, therefore, thinking also of the low fertility rate that Italy has had for a long time … one per cent, almost nothing … there will be greater attention from politics and public administrators at every level to give support to these families,” Francis said, according to the website Crux.

The meeting took place on the feast of the Holy Family. In his Sunday Angelus address, the Pontiff reflected on the challenges facing families around the world, the topic of next October’s synod of bishops.

He said: “This light which comes from the Holy Family encourages us to offer human warmth in those family situation in which, for various reasons, there is a lack of peace and harmony and forgiveness. Our concrete solidarity is just as present, especially when it comes to families who are undergoing difficult situations because of illness, lack of work, discrimination and the need to emigrate.”