Pope's Letter on 7th World Family Meeting in '12

Christian Families of the Whole World Should Feel Involved

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 26, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the letter Benedict XVI sent to the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family regarding the 7th World Meeting of Families, which will be held in 2012 in Italy.

The Aug. 23 letter was released by the Vatican on Friday.

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Venerable Brother,

Cardinal Ennio Antonelli,

President of the Pontifical Council for the Family,

At the conclusion of the 6th World Meeting of Families, which took place in Mexico City in 2009, I announced that the next gathering of Catholic families from around the world with the Successor of Peter would take place in Milan in 2012 and have as its theme “Family: Work and Celebration.” Desiring now to initiate the preparation of such an important event, I am happy to specify that, if it pleases God, it will take place from May 30 to June 3, and also to furnish some more detailed indications about the topic and the unfolding of the event.

Work and celebration are intimately connected in the life of families: they condition choices, influence relations between married couples and between parents and children, affect the relation of families with society and with the Church. Holy Scripture (cf. Genesis 1-2) tells us that the family, work and the feast day are gifts and blessings of God to help us to live a fully human existence. Daily experience attests that the authentic development of the person includes the individual, familial, and communal dimension, activities and functional relationships, as well as openness to hope and to the Good without limits.

In our days, unfortunately, the organization of labor, conceived and realized in function of market competition and maximizing profit, and the concept of feast as an occasion for escape and consumption, contribute to the break-up of the family and the community and to the spreading of an individualistic lifestyle. Thus, it is necessary to promote reflection and efforts at reconciling the demands and the periods of work with those of the family and to recover the true meaning of the feast, especially on Sunday, the weekly Easter, the day of the Lord and the day of man, the day of the family, of the community and of solidarity.

The next World Meeting of Families constitutes a privileged occasion to rethink work and celebration in the perspective of a united family open to life, well integrated into society and the Church, attentive to the quality of the relationships and to the economy of the family unit itself. If the event is to be truly fruitful, it must not remain isolated, but must connect to an adequate journey of ecclesial and cultural formation. It is my wish, therefore, that already in the course of 2011, the 30th anniversary of the apostolic exhortation “Familiaris consortio,” the great charter of family pastoral care, might be taken as a valid guide with initiatives at the parish, diocesan and national level, aimed at throwing light on experiences of work and celebration in their truest and most positive aspects, with particular regard to the effect on the concrete life of families. Christian families and ecclesial communities of the whole world should thus feel called and involved and enter solicitously onto the path toward “Milan 2012.”

The 7th World Meeting, like the preceding ones, will take place over five days and will culminate Saturday evening with the “Feast of Witnesses” and Sunday morning with the Solemn Mass. These two celebrations over which I will preside will see everyone gathered together as “family of families.” The whole unfolding of the event will be guided in such a way as to completely harmonize the various dimensions: communal prayer, theological and pastoral reflection, moments of fraternity and exchange among the families, hosted by local families, and media events.

Until then, may the Lord recompense with abundant heavenly favors the Archdiocese of St. Ambrose for its generous availability and organizing efforts at the service of the Universal Church and the families of many nations.

As I invoke the intercession of the Holy Family of Nazareth, dedicated to daily work and assiduous in the festal celebrations of their people, I impart to you, venerable brother, and to your collaborators the apostolic benediction that, with special affection, I gladly extend to all the families engaged in the preparation of the great meeting in Milan.

From Castel Gandolfo, August 23, 2010

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]
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