Archbishop underscores beauty, joy of family life
The March 25 presentation in Rome promoting the 2015 World Meeting of Families offered Archbishop Charles Chaput of the conference’s host city an opportunity to express the importance of family life in society, and his desire to strengthen it in the Church.
“We in Pennsylvania are grateful to continue this great tradition of reaffirming the importance, the beauty, and the joy of Christian family life,” declared the Philadelphia archbishop, recently appointed to the Pontifical Council for the Laity. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia will host the eighth World Meeting of Families Sept. 22-27, 2015.
Initially started in 1994 by Pope John Paul II, the World Meeting of Families takes place every three years and seeks to support and strengthen families throughout the world.
During the press conference, Archbishop Chaput thanked Pope Francis for confirming Philadelphia as the location where the meeting will take place, affirming that he “embodies the message of mercy and joy that lies at the heart of the Gospel.”
“His enthusiasm for life and his compassion for the genuine needs of people have inspired in us to focus on our common mission of love, and how love so much enlivens all families and its respective members,” the archbishop noted.
For this reason, he revealed that the archdiocese is preparing a special “Preparatory Catechism” designed for Catholics and “all people of good will” as the organizers seek to “underline the beauty and truth of family life.”
“As the most privileged place of love,” the family “provides for a dynamism of reciprocal human affection that fills every home and family member with a unique and invigorating light and warmth,” the archbishop observed.
Archbishop Chaput highlighted how large events such as this draw “many thousands of people,” which presents challenges, but also has “the power to transform, in deeply positive ways, the whole community.”
“The World Meeting of Families is meant to be a gift not just for Catholics in Philadelphia, but for every person of good will in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the surrounding regions and the wider world,” he explained, adding that “everyone with a generous heart is welcome to be a part of it.”
Calling to mind the historical significance of Philadelphia for the U.S., Archbishop Chaput highlighted the strides the city has taken in the efforts regarding Catholic education, particularly with immigrants, minorities, the elderly and the poor.
However, he also noted how the city needs to “renew” itself in the aftermath of the abuse crisis which over the past decade, stating that his diocese “is a snapshot of the Church globally.”
“We have a duty to help abuse victims and their families to heal, and to protect children and young people from harm in the years ahead,” the archbishop observed. At the same time, “the Church still has the duty to help people find God and to live their faith with joy and conviction. The story of repentance and new life was the story of ancient Israel, and it’s the story of the Church at her best throughout history,” he continued.”
Emphasizing how “faithful Catholics everywhere” are aware of this, he explained that “they long for a chance to deepen God’s presence in their own families, and to share the Gospel with a world that urgently needs hope. That’s why — with the help of God — the World Meeting of Families in 2015 will achieve everything God intends for it.”
Drawing attention to the emphasis organizers are placing on the “importance, the beauty and the joy” of family life, the archbishop observed that for this reason they are “bringing together the best experts we can enlist to address the pastoral, social, economic and cultural challenges that families now face.”
“In the end, our goal is simple. We want to help families strengthen their family life in very practical ways.”
Also present during the press conference were Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, as well as Philadelphia’s governor Tom Corbett, and its mayor, Michael Nutter.