Today (Thursday 30 March) in Rome, details of a Letter from Pope Francis were released by Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Holy See’s new office for Laity, Family and Life, and the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin. The Letter invites families from around the world to take part in the pastoral preparations for the ninth World Meeting of Families which will take place in Dublin from 21 – 26 August 2018.
Planning for this national and international celebration of faith is well underway. A dedicated office and support team has been established and later this year a nationwide programme about the family will begin throughout Ireland, with an emphasis on Pope Francis’ teaching and reflections.
In his letter published a short time ago, Pope Francis said “ My thoughts go in a special way to the Archdiocese of Dublin and to all the dear Irish nation for the generous welcome and commitment involved in hosting such an important event. May the Lord recompense you as of now, granting you abundant heavenly favours.”
At today’s news conference which was held in the Holy See Press Office, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said, “The Church in Ireland – and especially my Archdiocese of Dublin – is aware of the privilege that Pope Francis has assigned to it but is also aware of the challenge that the Pope has placed on its shoulders. The challenge is not just of organising a large world event, but of recalling for a modern society such as that of Ireland, with its complex mix of secularisation and faith, how important the family is for the future of Ireland and of the wider society especially in Europe.”
The World Meeting of Families promises to be an occasion that will reflect on the faith experience of families from many parts of the world as well as on the challenges and celebrations, which characterise the ups and downs of day-to-day family life.
Archbishop Martin outlined how the celebration in Dublin next August will be prepared by extensive teaching on the meaning of family love and on the role of the family in society. He expressed the hope that it would be “a moment of renewal for the Church in Ireland with wide involvement of lay faithful. It will be a moment in which the role of the family can be understood in greater depth. It will be a moment in which families can regain confidence in carrying out their mission in the context of a Church which is merciful and which accompanies them in the ups and downs of their lives.”
Both Cardinal Farrell and Archbishop Martin expressed their hope that the August 2018 meeting will not be a one-off event, but rather a chance for the whole Church to deepen its reflection on the Pope’s words in ‘Amoris Laetitia‘, seeing the family as a vital resource for sharing the message of God’s love with the world.
Responding to a question at this morning’s press conference about a possible papal visit as part of the World Meeting of Families 2018, both Cardinal Farrell and Archbishop Martin shared their hopes that Pope Francis will be able to attend the event.
Please find below the full text of Pope Francis’ letter for the World Meeting of Families
To the Venerable Brother Cardinal KEVIN FARRELL, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life
At the end of the Eighth World Meeting of Families, held in Philadelphia in September 2015, I announced that the subsequent meeting with Catholic families of the world would take place in Dublin. I now wish to initiate preparations, and am pleased to confirm that it will be held from 21 to 26 August 2018, on the theme “The Gospel of the Family: joy for the world”. Indeed, it is my wish for families to have a way of deepening their reflection and their sharing of the content of the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.
One might ask: does the Gospel continue to be a joy for the world? And also: does the family continue to be good news for today’s world?
I am sure the answer is yes! And this “yes” is firmly based on God’s plan. The love of God is His “yes” to all creation and at the heart of this latter is man. It is God’s “yes” to the union between man and woman, in openness and service to life in all its phases; it is God’s “yes” and His commitment to a humanity that is often wounded, mistreated and dominated by a lack of love. The family, therefore, is the “yes” of God as Love. Only starting from love can the family manifest, spread and regenerate God’s love in the world. Without love, we cannot live as children of God, as couples, parents and brothers.
I wish to underline how important it is for families to ask themselves often if they live based on love, for love and in love. In practice, this means giving oneself, forgiving, not losing patience, anticipating the other, respecting. How much better family life would be if every day we lived according to the words, “please”, “thank you” and “I’m sorry”. Every day we have the experience of fragility and weakness, and therefore we all, families and pastors, are in need of renewed humility that forms the desire to form ourselves, to educate and be educated, to help and be helped, to accompany, discern and integrate all men of good will. I dream of an outbound Church, not a self-referential one, a Church that does not pass by far from man’s wounds, a merciful Church that proclaims the heart of the revelation of God as Love, which is Mercy. It is this very mercy that makes us new in love; and we know how much Christian families are a place of mercy and witnesses of mercy, and even more so after the extraordinary Jubilee. The Dublin meeting will be able to offer concrete signs of this.
I therefore invite all the Church to keep these indications in mind in the pastoral preparation for the next World Meeting.
You, dear Brother, along with your collaborators, have the task of translating in a special way the teaching of Amoris Laetitia, with which the Church wishes families always to be in step, in that inner pilgrimage that is the manifestation of authentic life.
My thoughts go in a special way to the archdiocese of Dublin and to all the dear Irish nation for the generous welcome and commitment involved in hosting such an important event. May the Lord recompense you as of now, granting you abundant heavenly favours.
May the Holy Family of Nazareth guide, accompany and bless your service, and all the families involved in the preparation of the great World Meeting in Dublin.
From the Vatican, 25 March 2017