Before the Pope spoke, families from different countries shared with him and the audience the stories of their struggles, triumphs and values – emphasizing a central message: the strength of following their faith and sticking together.
Calling families “a factory of hope”, Francis drew laughs from the crowd as he acknowledged his message might be greeted with skepticism by some.
Though there are no flawless families, and though in every family there are tensions, difficulties, conflicts, challenges, there is in the family also the abiding love by which all these can be overcome. Sometimes, plates can fly. “And children bring headaches – I won’t speak about mother in laws”, Francis joked. “Family is really family when it is able to open its arms and receive all that love”.
Actor Mark Wahlberg speaks as Pope Francis is seated nearby during the Festival of Families, Saturday, September 26, 2015, in Philadelphia. Not only did he make the intro, but Wahlberg also got in a quick, “Go Eagles!”
After Bobby Hill, 14, of the Keystone State Boychoir performed an opera solo, he told Wahlberg that he liked his performance in the movie about an angry talking teddy bear.
But on Saturday, the actor was feeling quite the kinship with the Philadelphians in the crowd.
“He whispered in my ear that he liked the movie ‘Ted, ‘” Wahlberg said.
“I’m just committed to making sure that I’ve paid for my mistakes”, he told NBC’s “Today” show in December. Holy Father please forgive me.
“But”, the Pope added, “in families, there is always light”. The family is the channel and reflection of God’s own beauty, truth, and goodness.
Francis urged the crowd to especially care for the young as well as the old. “Love is moving forward”, the Pope said. “In a family, you can’t finish the day off not being at peace”.
Francis embraced and spoke to each one after their testimonies, opting to set aside his prepared remarks when it came time for his address.