The World Meeting of Families (WMOF) is an opportunity for the Church to engage with people, such as divorcees, who may feel alienated from “the family that is the Church”.
Archbishop Eamon Martin told The Irish Catholic that he hopes the WMOF will reach out and “embrace people in all kinds of family situations”.
He said: “We really have to help them realise that they are part of the Church, they are part of the family of families that is the Church, and that whilst we present a very clear understanding of family ourselves we’re also conscious of the struggles, of the real life situations of families.”
The hope is that families that are wounded, who are engaged in bereavement, illness, separation and divorce will still remain connected, and that the WMOF will reinforce this.
Looking into the future, where a possible referendum on abortion legislation looks likely to happen around the same time as the WMOF, Archbishop Martin said that the Church will continue to present, in the public discourse, “a coherent ethic of life”.
He cited President Michael D. Higgins ‘Ethics Initiative’, which aims to encourage everyone to stimulate a national discussion on what type of Ireland the population want to create.
In relation to the abortion issue Ireland’s bishops will be vocal in their opposition to repealing the Eight Amendment to the Constitution. “Really we don’t see the life issue as being a separate issue , but actually the core issue upon which all other ethical values are built and founded,” said Archbishop Martin.
“Therefore it makes no sense for us to be engaged in any discussion about values in society which doesn’t respect the fundamental value of all, which is the gift of human life and the dignity of the human person.”
He added that “the Church will of course engage in any conversations” about the forthcoming referendum, and that no matter what happens, their stance will remain the same.