Milan, 30. A passionate message of civilization and hope for building the society of the future is what the Seventh World Meeting of Families inaugurated this morning in the capital of Lombardy aims to be. Cardinal Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan, and Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, President of the Council for the Family, opened this important ecclesial event, which, from Friday, will culminate in the Visit of Benedict XVI. The event is obviously marked by sorrow – it is under “a cloud of melancholy”, Cardinal Atonelli said, because of the severe recent earthquake which has harshly hit Emilia Romagna.
The two cardinals gave the green light to the International Pastoral Theological Congress at which more than 100 relators are scheduled to speak – prelates, pastoral workers, academics, experts – and which will result in a 360° reflection of the real situation of the family today. Among the first speakers will be Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, who in his introduction suggested the metaphor of the “house” as a key to understanding the family's role “in the work of creation and the celebration of salvation”.
The general inspiration for the reflection comes from the meeting's theme: “The family: work and celebration”. This choice has proven to be a “felicitous intuition”, Cardinal Scola affirmed, because it sums up “the principal aspects of the daily life of each one of us, of every person, who is always in touch, in a relationship with others”. The family, in fact, “makes possible the understanding and development of two constitutive differences of the human being: the difference of gender between a man and a woman and the difference between the various generations of children, parents and grandparents. In keeping these two differences united, the family is the first and irreplaceable school of communion”. Then work “is the milieu in which every man and every woman expresses him or herself. They collaborate with their skills, and also with their efforts, in the creative action of the Father and the redeeming action of Jesus”. Lastly, rest fits into the family and work relationship. “It encourages balance, gives a rhythm to emotions and to work, because it provides the space for re-generation, re-creation, and is complete when it becomes a celebration, in other words repose, a freely-given community pause that is full of joy”.