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Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Vatican City, 22 May 2012 (VIS) - Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family; Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, Italy, and Pierpaolo Donati, professor at the department of sociology of the University of Bologna, Italy, today presided at a press conference held in the Holy See Press Office to present the seventh World Meeting of Families, which will take place in Milan from 30 May to 3 June on the theme: "The Family: Work and Celebration".

Cardinal Antonelli focused his remarks on preparations for the forthcoming event, which was announced by the Holy Father at the end of the last World Meeting of Families, held in Mexico City in 2009. Over the intervening three years, the Pontifical Council for the Family has met on various occasions with the archbishop of Milan and his closest collaborators in order to combine their efforts for the Milan meeting.

The cardinal listed some of the preparatory initiatives organised by his council. These included: the translation of the catechesis into Italian, French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Hungarian, Romanian, Arabic and Russian; an international academic seminar on "The Christian Family as the Subject of Evangelisation" (Rome 2009); the council's nineteenth plenary assembly on "The Rights of Infancy" (Rome 2010); an international academic seminar with pro-life associations (Rome 2010); an international congress on "The Christian Family as the Subject of Evangelisation" (Rome 2010), and the council's twentieth plenary assembly, held in Rome in 2011, which coincided with the thirtieth anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation "Familiaris consortio" and of the creation of the Pontifical Council for the Family itself.

Cardinal Antonelli also presented the "Enchiridion", a manual bringing together the Apostolic See's most recent teachings on the subject of the family and human life, dating from the final years of the pontificate of John Paul II and from the pontificate of Benedict XVI. "The aim of the publication", the cardinal explained, "is to provide a useful consultative instrument for pastoral care workers, associations, pro-life and pro-family movements, academics, teachers and politicians. It covers a wide range of subjects including: the theology and anthropology of the family, ... inter-religious marriage, regulation of fertility, demography, the ethic of life from conception to natural death, the ethics of health, the rights of minors, ... the family as the subject of evangelisation, ... and attention to canonically irregular situations".

Another volume, entitled "The Family, a Resource for Society", was also presented during the press conference. "It contains", the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family said, "new research which throws light on the different contributions, positive and negative, which the various forms of family and cohabitation bring to society".

For his part Cardinal Scola noted that the theme of the Milan meeting, "by bringing together the three fundamental aspects of man's daily life - family, work and rest - highlights two major traits ... of human experience all over the world: the uniqueness of individuals and the fact that they are always in relation with others. Thus this seventh World Meeting of Families has interpreted the perennial importance of these questions, and of this particular historical moment".

The archbishop of Milan went on: "The family founded on faithful marriage between a man and a woman, and open to life, over and above all the cultural developments that have affected it, still imposes itself as the best way to generate and raise children. In the family the child ... sees the future as a promise. From infancy we all discover the meaning of work, first as school work and them as a profession. Through work ... we develop complex social relationships. ... We discover a taste for building, ... but above all we gain a sense of reciprocal trust, which is the vital cement of human coexistence.

"Life imposes its rhythm on us", he added. "It requires us to establish an order between family affections and work. In doing this we are helped by rest, which marks the rhythm of life. ... Celebration is the apex of rest, a gratuitous and shared use of time and space which is a source of joy. Man becomes reconciled with himself, with others and with God. It is no coincidence that all religious traditions have always utilised celebration".

Finally Cardinal Scola of Milan spoke of the interest the seventh World Meeting of Families is arousing in the media. The family, he said, is the focus of attention because it is an "indispensable resource, a 'social capital' which requires specific policies, perhaps also as a result of the serious economic crisis we are in". He also provided some statistics on the forthcoming meeting, noting that more than a million faithful are expected to attend the papal Mass, and 300,000 the Feast of Testimonies.

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