Pope proclaims year of families, offers advice to keep peace

World

Pope Francis caresses a boy as he arrives to celebrate Mass on Christmas eve, at St. Peter’s basilica at the Vatican, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. (Vincenzo Pinto/Pool Photo via AP)

ROME (AP) — Pope Francis on Sunday proclaimed an upcoming year dedicated to the family as he doubled down on one of his papal priorities and urged renewed attention to his controversial 2016 document on family life.

Francis announced the upcoming year on the family would begin March 19, the fifth anniversary of his document “The Joy of Love.” Among other things, the document opened the door to letting divorced and civilly remarried couples receive Communion, sparking criticism and even claims of heresy from conservative Catholics.

Francis penned the document after summoning bishops from around the world to debate how the Catholic Church can better minister to families. While the divorce-remarriage issue dominated headlines during the back-to-back synods, the discussion also touched on ministering to gay people and other “non-traditional” families.

Francis made the comments during his Sunday noon blessing, delivered from inside his studio to prevent people from gathering in St. Peter’s Square below as part of the Vatican’s anti-virus precautions.

In making the announcement, Francis offered some friendly papal advice to bickering families, reminding them to say “pardon me, thank you and sorry” and never end the day without making peace.

“Because the Cold War the day after is dangerous,” he quipped.

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