Church Planning a Family Party, Says Official

Invites People to Mexico for World Meeting

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 13, 2009 (Zenit.org).- This week the Church is hosting a celebration for families around the world, announced a Vatican official. Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, was speaking of the 6th World Meeting of Families, set to get underway Wednesday in Mexico City.

Before traveling to the Mexican capital for the event, the Italian prelate spoke with ZENIT about the great hopes Benedict XVI and the Holy See have for the meeting, which runs through Sunday. About one million people are expected for some of the activities.

The Holy Father’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, is in Mexico as the Pope’s representative.

«The World Meeting of Families is an event of such importance, of such meaning, that in itself it invites participation, and in fact, representatives are coming from every corner of the planet,» Cardinal Antonelli told ZENIT. «In particular from Mexico, qualified representatives of civil society are also coming.

«I extend an invitation to the citizens of Mexico City and the citizens of the various cities of Mexico, so that they come in great numbers, because it will certainly be a great celebration, a beautiful celebration, and also very welcoming, as the Mexicans like to be.»

World Meetings of Families were begun by Pope John Paul II. The last one was held in 2007 in Valencia, Spain.

Since many people cannot travel to Mexico, Cardinal Antonelli added, key elements of the event will be broadcast by radio, television and Internet.

The cardinal made the invitation to «unite yourselves spiritually in prayer, in taking interest in the themes discussed and the experiences that are presented, as well as also receiving the spiritual blessings.»

«The Holy Father,» he continued, «has conceded a plenary indulgence not only to those who participate physically, but also to those who participate in the Mexico City event via the communications media.»

And the Pope, the cardinal affirmed, will «be spiritually present. He has always taken much interest in the preparation and he knows very well the details of the preparations. He will be present in the event on Saturday with a video message. On Sunday, from Rome via television, he will participate in the entire celebration of the holy Mass. At the end of the Mass, there will be a direct TV link for him to speak to the multitude and give his blessing. Then he will announce the site of the 7th World Meeting of Families.»

Our Lady’s footprint

Cardinal Antonelli contended that the meeting is particularly important for Mexico, the nation with the second largest population of Catholics.

He noted: «The family is very loved in Mexico, despite the fact that it is passing through difficulties, above all for reasons of immigration, which causes the separation of couples, when one goes to work in a foreign land.

«But the family is very loved and in particular, women have been important throughout the history of Mexico; they have also had moments of great historical resonance. The Virgin of Guadalupe has left her mark not only in Mexico in general, but also in the Mexican family.»

[Mercedes de la Torre contributed to this report.]
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