The Pope held his Wednesday's general audience in St. Peter's Square. In his catechesis, the Holy Father continued his reflections on the family, referring on this occasion to children as a gift from God to their parents and to society as a whole. “There is a close link between the hope of a people and harmony between the generations”, he said. “The joy of children makes their parents' hearts leap and opens up the future. Children are the joy of the family and of society. They are not a matter of reproductive biology, or one of the many ways of producing them, much less their parents' possession. Children are a gift. They are a gift. Each one is unique and unrepeatable, and at the same time unmistakably linked to his or her roots. Indeed, to be a son or a daughter according to God's plan, means carrying in oneself the memory and hope of a love that has become tangible by kindling the life of another human being, original and new. And for parents each child is him- or herself, different, unique”.
Francis emphasised the gratuitous dimension of the love that we receive as sons and daughters: “children are loved before they are born. I often encounter expectant mothers in the square who ask me to bless their unborn babies. These children are loved before they come into the world. This is gratuitousness, this is love; they are loved before they are born, like the love of God, Who always loves us first. They are loved before having done anything to deserve it, before being able to speak or to think, even before being able to come into the world. To be sons and daughters is the fundamental condition for knowing God's love, which is the ultimate source of this authentic miracle. In the soul of every child, although vulnerable, God places the seal of this love, which is the basis of his or her personal dignity, a dignity that nothing and no-one can destroy”.
The Pope remarked that the good relations between generations can be learned from the Heavenly Father Who “does not take steps backwards in His love for us – never! He always moves forward, and if He cannot go ahead He waits for us, but He never goes backwards; He wants all his children to be courageous and take their steps ahead. Sons and daughters, on their part, must not be afraid of the commitment to building a new world: it is right for them to want it to be better than the one they have received! But this must be done without arrogance, without presumption”.
He mentioned the fourth commandment, to honour one's father and mother, and explained that “a society of children who do not honour their parents is a society without honour. It is a society destined to become full of barren and greedy young people”. He added that a society in which the adult generations “do not love to be surrounded by children, considering them above all as a worry, a burden, a risk, is a depressed society” and that while the conception of children must be responsible, having many children should not automatically be considered an irresponsible decision, and choosing not to have children is “a selfish decision”. “Life is rejuvenated and acquires energy by multiplying; it is enriched, not impoverished. … In the multiplication of generation there is the mystery of the enrichment of the life of all, that comes from God Himself. We must rediscover this, challenging prejudice; and live it, in faith and in perfect joy”. He concluded by addressing the mothers and fathers who raise their children to be blessed as he passes through the square: “it is a gesture that is almost divine. Thank you for doing it!”.