Plans for a family center in Nazareth are again under way, and the initiative was presented Tuesday at the Vatican.
The center will be a multifaceted complex, offering resources ranging from a guesthouse for families, to an auditorium for conferences, a think tank, and a resource center with psychologists, economists, and other professionals at the service of families.
The Vatican initiative was an idea of John Paul II’s in 1997, but met with difficulties. On the eve of Benedict XVI’s trip to the Holy Land in 2009, the German Pontiff again took up the project, and it came to be entrusted to the Charismatic Renewal movement.
The president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Vincenzo Paglia, the auxiliary bishop of Jerusalem, Giacinto Marcuzzo, and the Italian president of Charismatic Renewal, Salvador Martinez, presented the initiative Tuesday morning.
It is necessary “to propose again a new culture of the family,” Archbishop Paglia said, recalling that Nazareth is a place of extraordinary evocative and symbolic strength. “It is the place where Jesus grew up, his home, where he lived with Mary and Joseph. And the place to call God Abba, Father, as Pope Francis indicated recently,” he noted.
Thus the International Center for the Family will be built, which, in addition to being a center of family spirituality and formation, will also be a think tank for family ministry around the world, and particularly in the Holy Land and in the Middle East.
Through international projects, it will also give material support to families in difficulty, particularly in the Holy Land.
Martinez pointed out that the objective of the Foundation is the formation and evangelization of families and their pastoral care. He explained that the Foundation is directed by an administrative council which includes five members; three elected by the Association Renewal in the Spirit and two by the Pontifical Council for the Family.
“Conscious of the great challenge it entails, we have received with great joy and not a little emotion the invitation to build, run and animate the ‘Pope’s house in the Holy Land,’ a special dwelling for all the families of the world, in particular those of the Middle East,” he said.
Martinez expressed his hopes “that the International Center of the Family of Nazareth will be a privileged place for the spread of the ‘Gospel of the Family,’ a showcase of all the beautiful, good, true and just that the family proposes and witnesses to the world.”
Nazareth’s population is about 40% Christian. The Center will be built on the hill that overlooks the Basilica of the Annunciation, on grounds that are the property of the Holy See.
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