Wednesday, June 22, 2022

World Meeting of Families kicks off today in Rome


Pope Francis meets with a family during an audience in the Paul VI HallPope Francis meets with a family during an audience in the Paul VI Hall 

World Meeting of Families: The importance of vocational pastoral work

The 10th World Meeting of Families kicks off in Rome on Wednesday. Marking the opening, the undersecretary of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life relaunches the urgency of proclaiming the beauty of marriage and the family today.

By Francesca Merlo

There is great expectation for the opening of the World Meeting of Families, beginning on Wednesday and ending on Sunday 26 June. 'Family love: vocation and the way to holiness' is the theme of this edition, which kicks off on Wednesday afternoon with the Festival of Families. Around two thousand delegates from 120 countries , chosen by the Bishops' Conferences, the Synods of the Oriental Churches, and international ecclesial realities, have been invited.

This meeting is being held at a difficult time for humanity, harshly tried by the pandemic and war. Gabriella Gambino, undersecretary of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, promoter of the event, spoke to Debora Donnini of Vatican News about these difficulties as well as her hopes for the event. 


"After a whole year dedicated to family pastoral care with all the great work that has been done, I believe it is really time to 'make Church' together with families, pastors", says Gabriella Gambino. She describes the hope as being one of hearing words of encouragement from the Holy Father "so that when this Year of the Family is over, we will be able to continue on a journey together".

The work of families in evangelisation

Gabriella Gambino goes on to describe the importance of involving children in the pastoral work of evangelisation, explaining that "the whole family is called to Christian proclamation". 

“I believe that, today, one of the greatest challenges for us parents is precisely that of transmitting to our children the awareness, and also the courage to proclaim Christ present in our families.”

She adds that it is also important to teach our children to do so, no matter the complexity of the times in which we are living. 

The themes and their links

Formation, accompaniment, transmission of the faith to the new generations, are some of the themes of the event. The "fundamental" one is the proclamation of the vocation of each family, of each person within the family, says Gabriella Gambino. She explains that "the family is a path to holiness and sanctification that each of us has at our disposal.

“The family is a gift that the Lord gives us.”

She explains that it is important to train people who know how to meet the reality of today's families. It is important that we accompany families and especially young engaged couples and spouses in the reality they live, starting from their reality, so that from there they can discover their vocation and encounter Christ, she say. "It is also important that we learn to transmit the faith to young people starting from the reality in which they are inserted, therefore also having the courage to address issues that are very difficult for us today, on which we are sometimes poorly prepared", she adds. 

Document: catechumenal itineraries for married life

The final point discussed by Gabriella Gambino is a recently published document entitled 'Catechumenal Itineraries for married life', published as part of the Pastoral Guidelines for Particular Churches, prepared by the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life and with a preface by Pope Francis. 

Gabriella Gambino explains that this text was explicitly desired by the Holy Father, precisely because we live in an era in which marriage needs to be announced with greater strength, with greater clarity, but above all, it needs to be announced 'in time'.

For this reason, she exaplains, "I believe that one of the most interesting aspects of this document is the fact that it proposes a very 'remote' preparation for married life".

This involves talking to children about the Sacrament of Marriage in Christian initiation courses. It is important they understand that it is a calling, adds Gabriella Gambino.

Finally, the undersecretary of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life,  talks about the importance of the of accompaniment even after the celebration of the Rite, that is of  a strong pastoral care of the bond, "because couples, especially in the first years of marriage, need to be accompanied".

Nobody must be left alone in these moments, but ratherythey must "feel part of a church community, that helps them get through the crisis phase, because the crisis  is a normal phase in the conjugal life of two people who live together for a lifetime

“It is necessary to 'escort' couples so that they know how to live crises as opportunities for growth and not as moments that mark insuperable wounds.”

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