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ROME, May 13, 2015 (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pope Francis stood with the famous statue of Our Lady of Fatima today at his weekly General Audience to commemorate the 98th anniversary of the officially approved Marian apparition.
The Holy Father requested the statue be transported to the event. “We are proud that precisely on the day dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima, our statue will bind symbolically the Marian Shrine to Saint Peter's Square, in a prayer of peace and hope,” said a man with the group that helped move the statue.
A couple of weeks ago, Pope Francis reportedly told Bishop António Augusto dos Santos Marto of Leiria-Fátima that he’ll be visiting in 2017 for the 100th anniversary of the Virgin Mary's appearance to the three Portuguese shepherd children.
Pope Francis has a special devotion to Our Lady of Fatima. Two years ago on this day, just months after being elected pope, the Holy Father had his entire papacy consecrated to her by Cardinal Jose Polycarp, Patriarch of Lisbon, Portugal.
At today's General Audience, the Pope spoke about the importance of treating one's family with love and respect. He stressed the importance of phrases like “May I?” and “Thank you” and what he deems the hardest yet most important: “Forgive me.” These words, said frequently, “open the path to living well in a family, living in peace,” he affirms. In their absence, he insists the foundation of the family can accumulate “cracks that can even make it collapse.”
The Pope lamented what he sees as a decline in civilized etiquette in modern society. “Sometimes it seems that we are becoming a civilization of bad manners and dirty words as if they were a sign of emancipation,” he notes. “We hear them so often, even publicly.”
Assessing the landscape of today's society, he observes, “Kindness and an ability to say 'thank you' are almost seen as a sign of weakness.”
The Christian, on the other hand, is supposed to reject this downward spiral of incivility. “[F]or believers, gratitude is at the very heart of faith,” he insists. “A Christian who does not know how to give thanks is one who has forgotten God's language.”
Quoting a memorable aphorism he once heard, Pope Francis points out that “gratitude is a plant that grows only in the soil of noble souls.”