Vatican City, 10 October 2013 (VIS) – This morning in the Holy See Press Office Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, presented the twelfth plenary assembly of the dicastery, which will take place in Rome from 23 to 25 October, and the pilgrimage of families to the tomb of St. Peter to mark the Year of Faith, the theme of which is “Family, live the joy of faith” (26 and 27 October). Today's press conference also included the presentation of a volume, published in Spanish and Italian, gathering together thirty-five texts by Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio-Pope Francis on the theme of the family and life, written between 1999 and 2013. The other participants in the conference were Bishop Jean Lafitte, Msgr. Simon Vasquez and Fr. Gianfranco Grieco, O.F.M., respectively secretary, under-secretary and head of department of the aforementioned Pontifical Council.
Archbishop Paglia emphasised that the recent convocation of the third general assembly of the Synod of Bishops (5-19 October 2014) will project new light on the upcoming events to be held by the Pontifical Council for the Family. “We wish to promote a great Family celebration around Pope Francis. Rome wants to, and must, become the 'Capital' of the family, both in Italy and worldwide. To be part of a family is good. To make a family is beautiful: we want to shout this out to the world, especially to families in difficulty. … If it is not good for man to be alone, it is likewise not good for families to be alone. The family must return to the centre of culture, politics, the economy, finance, and the life of peoples and nations. The Family must increasingly be the focus of the attention and concerns of the post-conciliar Church. Pope Francis, with the celebration of the next Synod, wishes to remind us of this urgency before it is too late. All the dioceses of the world are invited to put themselves on the same wavelength in order to reflect and to give new impetus to family pastoral care”.
Bishop Lafitte communicated the details of the calendar of the Plenary Assembly, specifying that two of the days, 23 and 25 October, will be dedicated to the work of the committee of the presidency, members and consultors. On 23 October, discussions will focus on the activities of the dicastery and its action programs, and on 25 October attention will turn to the question of the rights of the family, taking an interreligious approach and exploring Jewish and Islamic perspectives. On 24 October there will be a Congress, open to the public, on the Charter of the Rights of the Family, which celebrates its thirtieth anniversary. The themes selected offer an interdisciplinary approach to the question of family rights: the theological basis for the Charter, the concept of natural marriage, the role of the State in recognising the institution of marriage, and the current relevance of the Charter of the Rights of the Family, demonstrating its links to contemporary culture and society. This document will be considered in the light of international legislation, and there will also be a discussion on women's rights. The final presentation will be dedicated to the difference between aggregative and generative couples. The Pope will receive the participants in audience on 25 October and in the afternoon of the same day the eighth World Meeting of Families, to be held in Philadelphia from 22 to 27 September 2015, will be presented.
Msgr. Vasquez provided some practical information on the events to be held on 26 and 27 October, in which 150,000 families are expected to participate. On Saturday afternoon the Pope will meet for the first time with families from 70 countries of all five continents in St. Peter's Square, and on Sunday, after the eucharistic celebration, he will bless all families throughout the world. “On Saturday afternoon the Pope will be surrounded by hundreds of elderly people and children, a novelty compared to other family meetings. By this decision it was intended to give visibility to the generational structure that characterises and enriches the life of every family and together bring to the fore two subjects who are particularly vulnerable and who merit greater attention”.
Finally, Fr. Grieco presented the collection of thirty-five texts by Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio-Pope Francis on the family, commenting that the Pope always emphasises the relationship between family, children and the elderly. With the help of the Institute for Marriage and Family of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina "Santa Maria de los Buenos Aires", the Pontifical Council has published a volume “with themes that refer to the daily evangelical and Franciscan preaching of Pope Francis: the culture of dialogue and encounter, care for others, the school as a place of welcome, and so on”. The volume includes texts on family and social solidarity, dignity and work, and also considers more controversial matters such as “euthanasia and abortion, divorce and same-sex marriages”.