By Anita S. Bourdin

ALENCON, France, JULY 16, 2010 ( Marking the July 10 feast of one of the Church's beatified married couples -- the parents of St. Thérèse -- the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family outlined two projects aimed at building a family-friendly society.

Cardinal Ennio Antonelli celebrated the feast of Blesseds Louis Martin and Marie-Zélie Guerin Martin with a Mass in the basilica of Alencon. In an address, he illustrated why the family is a resource for society, and highlighted three objectives the Church faces today.

He encouraged "witnessing, with the help of the grace of God, to the beauty of the family founded on marriage, that is on the will to give oneself and commit oneself without reservations." He invited building "a society friendly to the family" and urged belief "in the family as an irreplaceable factor of humanization and essential resource for society."

Recalling the World Meeting of Families held in Mexico City last year, and looking to the next meeting, scheduled for 2012 in Milan, the cardinal outlined priorities for his dicastery.

In the midst of their normal activities, he said they are working on two projects: one ecclesial and one secular.

Sharing notes

The first regards the family as a leader in evangelization, and best practices in family ministry. 

Cardinal Antonelli explained that "numerous countries are the site of very beautiful and very fruitful pastoral experiences, giving value to families as responsible protagonists in day to day evangelization, in relations with peers, in social life and in the activities of the Church."

The council's project aims to collect and share "the most significant and appropriate experiences to inspire and stimulate others."

In this context, the Vatican official spoke of an upcoming conference to be held in Rome in November, with the participation of Benedict XVI in a prayer vigil as part of the event.

This will be an occasion to foster "communion and communication between the Churches," the cardinal said. Concretely, these experiences include programs to prepare couples for marriage and ministry in support of families.

Letting facts speak

The second project focuses on data collection to show the importance of the family for society.

Studies will look at how the traditional family "greatly benefits society, whereas the so-called new forms of family are harmful to it."

"This study and investigation are proposed to the episcopal conferences of certain countries chosen as samples in order to present their results at the 7th World Meeting of Families in Milan in 2012," the cardinal explained.

He said the objective will be to increase awareness in public opinion based on the "eloquence of the facts" and also to "encourage the laity and associations in other countries."

Holy models

Cardinal Antonelli alluded later to the testimony of the Martin family, affirming that today's families need "cultural and political support."

"Families founded on marriage offer society essential goods through the generation of new citizens and the increase of social virtues," he said. "Thus, they have a right to a just cultural, juridical and economic recognition."

100-Member Church OKd by Turkmenistan

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan, JULY 16, 2010 ( The Catholic Church in Turkmenistan only has about 100 members (though another 30 are preparing for baptism); they’ve no church for worship, and just a couple priests and a deacon. But now, after a 13-year wait, they are officially recognized as the Catholic Church in Turkmenistan.