To the Editor...

Below is a letter about Pope Francis' recent visit that I sent to the editors of many of our newspapers in East Texas. It appeared in a number of newspapers this past Sunday.

September 30, 2015

To the Editor:

I would like to thank the good people of East Texas for their openness to the message of Pope Francis during his historic visit to our nation last week.

The main reason Pope Francis came to the United States was to attend the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, and he carried this theme of the family to a Joint Meeting of Congress in Washington and the United Nations in New York.

With emotion, elegance and enthusiasm, Pope Francis reminded our political leaders of the importance of the family:  “How essential the family has been to the building of this country! And how worthy it remains of our support and encouragement! Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.”

Pope Francis addressed many topics during his visit, some of which require significant thought and unpacking. But on the most important topic, he was very clear: Christians and all people of good will must do all we can to support and build up families, which include the poor, the sick, the homeless, the immigrant, the elderly, and the unborn. 

I also heard his clear call that we must steadfastly proclaim the model of family as a man and a woman committed for life in marriage and bearing the fruit of their children.  Although many find themselves in circumstances that diverge from the model family, it remains the template for living God’s plan for humanity.  As we minister to those who experience family as fragmented in some way, may we cherish every person as a member of the family of God. 

May Pope Francis’ visit and the words he spoke challenge all of us to recognize Jesus in our midst, and that our care for one another is care for Christ himself.

Most Reverend Joseph E. Strickland
Bishop of Tyler

Bishop Strickland is the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Tyler, which includes the 33 counties of Northeast Texas. 

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