Many Races, One Family

Interview With Spokesman of Family Meeting

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By Karna Swanson

MEXICO CITY, JAN. 14, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The environment at the theological-pastoral congress of the 6th World Meeting of Families is best described as familiar, says spokesman Legionary of Christ Father Rafael Jácome.

In this interview with ZENIT at the encounter, the Mexican priest gives a balance of the first day of the event, which broke all participation records of all the past encounters. More than 10,000 attended the first day of the conference.

Q: At the beginning of the congress, how would you describe the environment?

Father Jácome: Participants arrived very early with a lot of joy and enthusiasm, creating an environment of fraternal sharing among the various races and nationalities of all the continents.

They arrived to the main hall to participate in the “lectio divina” guided by Cardinal Francisco Robles Ortega, archbishop of Monterrey. Shortly afterward Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council of the Laity, arrived, as did Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, the archbishop of Mexico, Bishop Carlos Aguiar Retes, president of the Mexican episcopal conference, and Mexican President Felipe Calderón and his wife Margarita Zavala. The national anthem of Mexico was sung to initiate the encounter, which has brought together 10,000 participants.

Q: Why are these meetings important?

Father Jácome: As we know, Servant of God John Paul II instituted these encounters in 1994. Now, Benedict XVI invites us to follow with this opportunity to analyze, reflect and interchange opinions on the irreplaceable role of the family in the education of persons in all their integrity, who build a society that is more just and solidarity.

Q: What is the main message that this encounter wants to send?

Father Jácome: There are three messages or lines which will be addressed: the family as educator of human values; the importance of the testimony of parents in the work of living together and communication; and the need to promote laws that fortify and promote the family.

Q: What was most underlined during the inauguration of the congress?

Father Jácome: Cardinal Antonelli commented that the family is a decisive priority for the future of society and of the Church, and that Benedict XVI has put at the center of his magisterium the promotion of human and Christian values in our postmodern culture that suffers from individualism and relativism.

Cardinal Rivera Carrera noted that we are facing a depersonalized world and there is a lack of solidarity, and for this the family is a gift for the human society so that it can walk in spiritual and human values.

Bishop Aguiar Retes, basing himself on the document of Aparecida said, citing the Pope’s inaugural address of the meeting in Brazil, that the family is a patrimony of humanity, school of faith, arena of human and civic values, home in which the human family is born and is welcomed responsibly.

For his part, President Calderón noted that the role of the family is to form and transmit human, social and political values, in which one learns the vocation to serve others, respect, tolerance and solidarity. He underlined that his government is working to find the common good of society, putting well-being as the central nucleus.

Q: Lastly, how can one participate in the World Meeting of Families if they cannot attend physically?

Father Jácome: I believe that everyone can actively participate in this 6th encounter. Even though one is not here physically, he can follow the development of the pastoral-theological congress through media such as ZENIT, Catholic.net, the Web page of the Mexican episcopal conference (www.cem.org.mx), which will cover it thoroughly, and on the Web page of the encounter (www.emf2009.com), which contains all the information translated in various languages.

If from our community we inform ourselves and share these messages with our family, friends and neighbors, we become promoters and active participants of the 6th World Meeting of Families.

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