By Jesús Colina
MEXICO CITY, JAN. 18, 2009 (Zenit.org).- At the close of the VI World Meeting of Families in Mexico City, Benedict XVI announced that the next encounter of the family will be held in Milan, Italy.
The Pope revealed this today to the tens of thousands of faithful who filled the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe for the closing Mass of the five-day international encounter. The theme for the VII World Meeting of Families will be “Family, Work and Celebration.”
Speaking in Spanish, the Holy Father expressed his gratitude to Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, archbishop of Milan, for his “kindness in accepting this important commitment.”
After the Holy Father’s message, Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, said the encounter would take place in the spring 2012.
The event, continued the Italian cardinal, will take place within the context of the ecclesial and civil preparations for the 1,700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan, which was granted by Emperor Constantine and Licinius Augustus in 313. Cardinal Antonelli said the celebration, which marks the granting of religious freedom throughout the Roman Empire, will be an occasion to promote interreligious dialogue and religious freedom.
The cardinal also noted that Milan will host the World Expo 2015, under the theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.”
“God willing, we will see each other in Milan,” Cardinal Antonelli added.
Pope John Paul II initiated the first World Meeting of Families in Rome in 1994 for the occasion of the International Year of the Family promoted by the United Nations.
Subsequent encounters took place in Rio de Janiero (1997), Rome (2000), Manila (2003), Valencia (2006) and Mexico (2009).