Pope Francis chose Ireland to host next year’s World Meeting of Families to make sure Irish Catholics would take part in a ‘revolution’ promoting marriage and family life, one of the Pope’s key advisors has said.
Dublin-born Cardinal Kevin Farrell, who heads the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, said that the Pontiff told him this June that it was Ireland’s missionary history that had inspired him to choose Ireland for next year’s global gathering of Catholic families.
“Do you know that I have read that Ireland sent missionaries – I even had Irish priests in Buenos Aires – all over the world? They Christianised many parts of Africa, some parts of Latin America, certainly North America,” the cardinal described Pope Francis as saying.
“We need, Pope Francis said, to ensure that they be part of the revolution of promoting once again marriage and family life in our world today,” the cardinal continued, describing how the Pontiff said the situation in Northern Europe was drastic, and that something needed to be done. “That’s why he chose Ireland to be the centre of the next gathering of the families,” he added.
Speaking to The Irish Catholic about the Autumn 2018 event, the cardinal explained that Pope Francis is under no illusions about how family life in Ireland is changing in line with the rest of Europe.
“He understands that – he doesn’t think that Ireland is some miracle,” Cardinal Farrell said. “Nobody thinks that, but he thinks there’s a great spirit in the Irish people of giving of themselves to others, and of taking leadership roles, and I think he would hope that Ireland would solve Ireland’s problems first. I think that’s the way that you project a positive message: you resolve your own issues.”
January’s ad limina visit from the Irish bishops would have made Ireland’s own difficulties clear to the Pope even had he had no awareness of the issues in advance, the cardinal said.
“I believe he realises, like everybody realises, the problems that the whole world is facing, and he realises the problems that you’re faced with. He met with all the bishops privately, where he had a free for all – Pope Francis is great for having discussions. It’s not a lecture series,” he continued, explaining that the Pontiff had wanted Ireland’s bishops to raise and discuss the country’s problems.
Calling for Catholics to come together for the World Meeting of Families, he said this was a moment when Catholics should focus on the Church’s concept of the family, so the Church can do something as a whole to face to crisis of marriage and the family in today’s world.