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Families need a Church which is with them
People of all backgrounds are fascinated by Pope Francis, writes Archbishop Diarmuid Martin

Dublin's Archbishop Diarmuid Martin answers questions at a Vatican news conference on the theme chosen for the 2018 World Meeting of Families

Even those who do not belong to the Church understand that Pope Francis wishes to set in place a real renewal of the Church and they wish him well.

What inspires Pope Francis in his desire for renewal? There is a danger that each person would try to impose their own idea which may well be other than the Pope’s vision of authentic renewal.

In his Letter of Convocation of the World Meeting of Families, Pope Francis explains what his dream of the Church is: “I dream of a Church which reaches out, not a Church which is self-referential, a Church which does not pass by at a distance the hurts of humankind, a merciful Church which announces what is at the heart of the revelation of divine love, and that is mercy.”

Pope Francis has expressed these ideas on many other occasions. They were evident in the short speech he gave to the cardinals on the days prior to the conclave which elected him. What is innovative in the Letter of Convocation is the emphasis on the central place that the family is called to play in realising this great dream of renewal of the Pope.

The family is called to be a place of encounter with that divine mercy which heals and liberates. The family is called to be the place where spouses love each other not in vague romantic terms but in terms of their everyday realities and difficulties. Living love in the family involves family members knowing how to generously give of themselves, involves knowing how to forgive, knowing never to lose patience, but rather to reach out to understand and to respect each other.

The Pope’s vison of the mission of the family does not attempt to hide the fact that families experience challenges, weakness, fragility and even breakdown. 

Families need a Church which is with them, accompanying them in a process of discernment and integration though helping them to respond with a ‘yes’ to the divine love.

The World Meeting of Families 2018 in Dublin sets out to be not just a passing event or a fleeting celebration of the ideals of family life. 

It is a moment in which the entire Church can deepen its reflection on the teaching of Amoris Laetitia; it is a moment in which the daily love of husbands and wives and the daily love of parents for their children can be recognised as a fundamental resource for the renewal of the Church and of society. The Church must be a place where those who have failed can experience not harsh judgement but the strong embrace of the Lord which can lift them up to begin again to realise their own dream even if only imperfectly.

The celebration in Dublin in August 2018 will be prepared by an extensive catechesis on the meaning of conjugal and family love and on the role of the family in society. It will 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.

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.

 

This is the text of an intervention by Archbishop Martin, President of the 2018 World Meeting of Families, at a press conference in Rome on March 30.

 

 

Dublin Meeting of Families can offer concrete signs of God’s love – Pope

This is the text of Pope Francis' letter to Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, formally convoking the 2018 Dublin World Meeting of Families. It was published by the Vatican on March 30.

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. 

Union

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.