Busy days for Pope Francis as he prepares to preside at a huge Pentecost vigil Saturday night in the Circus Maximus with, among others, tens of thousands of members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, and then celebrate Mass on Pentecost Sunday in St. Peter’s Square.

Today, however, he received the European Federation of Catholic Family Associations as it celebrates 20 years. He called the family “Europe’s most precious treasure”…All of us must esteem families,” he began. Families are not museum pieces, …. Their gift is their mutual commitment and generous openness to children…and service to society. Families are thus a kind of leaven that helps to make the world more humane and more fraternal, where no one feels rejected or abandoned.”

He said the Federation’s activity should help remind everyone that there is no better ally for the integral progress of society than the presence of families in the social fabric. “In Amoris Laetitia, “ said the Holy Father, “I emphasized how, on the basis of the family, we can make the gift concrete through the beauty and the joy of mutual love. Seen in this light, your activity should help remind everyone that there is no better ally for the integral progress of society than to favor the presence of families in the social fabric.”

Francis emphasized that the family is “the foundation of society, the fundamental cell of society,” and it remains “the most suitable structure for ensuring for people the integral good necessary for their continuing development. … The family is the interpersonal relationship par excellence, inasmuch as it is a communion of persons. Your relationships as spouses, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, make it possible for every person to find a place in the human family. These relationships …are the driving force of true humanization and evangelization.”

He also noted that “crises of different types are presently springing up in Europe, not least in the institution of the family. But crises are incentives to work harder and better, with trust and hope. Francis wished them well in their “initiatives to promote concrete policies favoring the family in many areas… with the goal of procuring a dignified and fitting employment for all, especially the young, who in many areas of Europe endure the scourge of unemployment.

“In these initiatives, as well as in others directly related to the legislative field, concern for showing respect and for the dignity of each person should always prevail. In this sense, the culture of encounter always includes an attitude of dialogue in which listening is always necessary. May your dialogue be always based on actions, testimonies, experiences and lifestyles that speak more loudly than your speeches and programs.