BY Martin Dunlop | June 8 2012 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Families can change the world

Marriage, family and love matter Pope tells million-strong World Meeting of Families congregation

The family based upon marriage can revolutionise modern society for the better, Pope Benedict XVI told the million-strong congregation of pilgrims gathered for the closing Mass of Seventh World Meeting of Families in Milan, Italy.

The Holy Father delivered his message on the importance of family life built upon a man and a woman united in marriage—a message that resonates with Catholic Faithful at home and abroad—to pilgrims gathered from 153 countries at Milan’s Bresso Park on Sunday at the end of the five-day event.

“It is in the family that we discover our God-given vocation to love, to enter into relationship with others and to live together in harmony,” the Pope added at his general audience in Rome on Wednesday.

Marriage and life

In his Sunday homily, the Pope told the married couples present in the congregation that they were ‘not giving each other any particular thing or activity’ in marriage ‘but your whole lives’ and he explained that the benefits of married families go beyond the spouses and children to include society at large.

“Family life is the first and irreplaceable school of social virtues, such as respect for persons, gratuitousness, trust, responsibility, solidarity and cooperation,” the Holy Father said. “Your vocation is not easy to live, especially today, but the vocation to love is a wonderful thing, it is the only force that can truly transform the world.”

The Seventh World Meeting of Families had the theme, The Family: Work and Celebration. The theme asked families to explore how to balance work demands, family needs and religious celebration and the Pope upbraided economic theories that advocate that the best policies, markets and work ethics are those that push the most product and reap the most profit.


Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State of the Holy See, described the three-day visit of Pope Benedict to Milan Archdiocese as one in which everyone involved experienced the extraordinary manifestation of love for the Holy Father, as well as of closeness and support for his teaching, his work.

Fr Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican Press Office, also shared his impressions of the visit.

“I think this journey of the Pope in Milan was a wonderful occasion for the Pope and for the Church to announce the Gospel of the Family, the Good News about the family that in the perspective of the Catholic Church, it is really a place of love, a place of life,” he said.

Bishop Philip Tartaglia of Paisley represented Scotland’s bishops at the five-day programme.

“The Seventh World Meeting of Families in Milan entirely endorsed the concept of the family, which is based on the marriage of a man and a woman, husband and wife, who are father and mother to their children,” Bishop Tartaglia said. “Every parish and diocese would do well to assess its current level of pastoral care for the family and take whatever steps are necessary to make improvements.”

Among the pilgrims in Milan listening to the Holy Father’s words, were Paul and Emma Conroy, who, along with their five children, were part of a group of 49 parishioners from St Thomas’ Church, Riddrie, Glasgow, at the meeting.

“I was very interested to hear the Holy Father’s words on the family,” Mr Conroy told the SCO on his return from Milan this week.

Religious life, next meeting

During his visit to Milan the Holy Father also spoke to men and women religious, priests, seminarians and bishops at the city’s Gothic cathedral, highlighting to them that ‘a religious vocation and one’s personal well-being are not at odds,’ but ‘go hand-in-hand, since being a good priest or sister and a happy person both find their source in drawing closer to Christ.’

The Pope insisted that while marriage is a holy state, celibacy is central to the priesthood.

“The shining light of pastoral charity and a unified heart is sacerdotal celibacy and enshrined virginity,” he said.

The Holy Father concluded his visit to Milan by announcing at Sunday’s open-air Mass that the Eighth World Meeting of Families will be held in Philadelphia in 2015.


Pic: Pope Benedict XVI is surrounded by balloons as he attends a meeting at the San Siro stadium in Milan on June 2 during the Seventh World Meeting of Families.


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