Papal Audience with the House of Habsburg

Pope Francis received family members of the House of Hasburg visiting the Vatican for a Jubilee pilgrimage on Saturday, November 5, 2016.

To the some 300 people gathered in the Clementine Hall, the Pope said “I am happy to receive you in the occasion of this pilgrimage that you have undertaken as a family” and he highlighted the fact that ‘family’ implies a wealth of interconnections and variety and is a value to be “rediscovered” in current times.

The Pope recalled one of the Hasburg family’s most remarkable ancestors: Blessed Charles of Austria who was beatified in 2004 by Saint Pope John Paul II.

Remembering that some 100 years ago or so he ascended to the throne, the Pope said Charles’ spiritual presence is such that the Hasburg family is not nostalgically imbued in the past but, to the contrary, “it is actively present in the challenges and needs” of our time.

He mentioned how some of those present for the audience have roles of responsibility in organizations of solidarity and human and cultural development, as well as in the support of “the European project as a common home founded on human and Christian values”.    

Pope Francis also expressed his joy for having learnt that in the new generations of the Hasburg family some have been called to vocations of priestly and consecrated life: “a confirmation of the fact that the Christian family provides fertile ground for the seeds of vocation – including that of marriage.” 

“Charles of Austria was first of all a good family father and as such a servant of life and peace” he said.

The Pope recalled that Charles had been called to arms as a simple soldier at the beginning of WWI, and after having ascended to the throne in 1916,  in accord with the appeals of Pope Benedict XV, “he used all his strength in pursuit of  peace, at the cost of being misunderstood and mocked at. For this reason too he offers us an example for our times, and we can invoke him as an intercessor of peace for humanity.”

Photos: L'Osservatore Romano

Complete Address of Pope Francis to the House of Habsburg

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am happy to receive you on the occasion of the Jubilee pilgrimage, which you wished to carry out as a family. I wish to stress this aspect because the family, in a broad sense, with the richness of its bonds and of its variety, is a value to be rediscovered in our time.

In this happy circumstance, you are remembering especially Blessed Karl of Austria, who in fact one hundred years ago or so ascended the throne. May his spiritual presence in your midst be such that the Habsburg family does not turn today to the past nostalgically but, on the contrary, is actively present in today’s history with its challenges and needs. In fact, some of you play leading roles in organizations of solidarity and human and cultural promotion, as well as in supporting the European project as a common home founded on human and Christian values.

I also learned with joy that in the new generation of your family some vocations to the priesthood and to consecrated life have matured. I give thanks with you to the Lord and it gives further proof of the fact that the Christian family is the first terrain in which the seeds of vocations – beginning in fact with the conjugal, which is a true and proper vocation! – can sprout and develop.

Karl of Austria was first of all a good family man, and as such a servant of life and of peace. He had known war, having been a simple soldier at the beginning of World War I. He assumed the kingdom in 1916 and, sensitive to the voice of Pope Benedict XV, he spent himself with all his strength for peace, at the cost of being misunderstood and derided. In this also he gives us an ever more timely example, and we can invoke him as intercessor to obtain from God peace for humanity.

I thank you from my heart for your visit and I assure you that I will accompany your family’s path with my prayer. And you too, please, do not forget to pray for me. Thank you!

Pope Francis

Translated from the Italian by ZENIT

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