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home : news : pastoral care of families December 11, 2017

Keynote speakers stress importance of family life
Holy Wheels • Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, presents a bicycle custom-made for Pope Francis during the World Meeting of Families opening ceremony Sept. 22. Craig Pittelli photos
Holy Wheels • Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, presents a bicycle custom-made for Pope Francis during the World Meeting of Families opening ceremony Sept. 22. Craig Pittelli photos

More than 17,000 people, representing more than 100 countries gathered Sept. 22 to 25 in the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia, for the World Meeting of Families. The following are some highlights from the week in Philadelphia. For full stories, visit

Bishop Barron tells families to live out ‘image of God’ in society

Being created in the image of God is a mission, an adventure and a command that each Catholic is called to carry out into the world and something we need to rediscover as people of faith living in today’s secularized culture, said Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron of Los Angeles Sept. 22. He made the comments in the opening keynote address. Bishop Barron is the founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, host of the award-winning “Catholicism” film series, and from 2012 to 2015 was the rector/president of the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary outside Chicago. He was ordained an auxiliary bishop Sept. 8. In a talk that was simultaneously translated into French, Italian, Spanish, Vietnamese and American Sign Language, Bishop Barron explored how each person is made in the image and likeness of God — “imago Dei” — and the great responsibility and mission that comes with that.

Family is like the Trinity, says Cardinal Sarah

The first symbol of God’s creative love is when he said, “Let there be light,” because light encourages good and darkness encourages evil, Cardinal Robert Sarah said. Light brings order out of darkness and love out of chaos, he said in a Sept. 23 keynote. The second great symbol, the pinnacle of God’s creation, comes when God said, “let us make man in our own image and likeness,” added Cardinal Sarah, who spoke on the topic “The Light of the Family in a Dark World.” Formerly the archbishop of Conakry, Guinea, the cardinal is currently prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments. The family, Cardinal Sarah said, is like the Trinity, which is one in nature but with distinct persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In this perfect unity we find the nature of God, which is love. Man was created for fellowship with God, and God made woman because God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” This formed the first human family, each member equal in dignity and complementary in relationship.

Cardinal Tagle: A house is not a home without love

All people carry wounds of the heart that only Jesus can heal and his body of Christ, the Church, can be agents of that healing. That’s the message given by Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila during his keynote address Sept. 24. “All wounds hurt, but wounds are more painful and hurtful when we see our family members suffering,” he told the attendees. “The wounds that affect our families today are many, immense and deep.” Things such as financial problems, work conflicts, religious exclusion, discrimination, persecution, domestic violence or abuse can create wounds of the heart. “Open your eyes. Listen to the cries of the wounded. See those wounds. See the crosses of those wounds,” Cardinal Tagle entreated the crowd. Wounds that go unattended to can make people bitter or become alienated. Even if you have a large house you can still be “homeless,” the cardinal said, because only a loving presence makes a home.

Cardinal O’Malley, Pastor Rick Warren urge ‘revitalized’ family life

Two well-known Christian preachers agreed: Joy in family life is among the most powerful tools to take Jesus to others. The last keynote took a tag-team approach, when Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston and evangelical pastor Rick Warren took to the stage Sept. 25 and urged families to answer their missionary call. The two churchmen shared the one-hour slot to give their respective reflections on the theme, “The Joy of the Gospel of Life,” peppering their talks with humor and personal experience in their own particular style. Warren took the microphone first, addressing thousands of congress participants. He began by recalling Pope Francis’ words that families are under threat. After listing a series of threats against the family in the current culture, he said Christians are “disorganized” and “demoralized” and need to “revitalize our worship, minimize our differences, mobilize our members and re-energize our families.” Rather than focusing on what is negative, Christians need “to be proponents of what is right” and to celebrate the sanctity of life, marriage and family, said Warren, an author and the founder of the evangelical megachurch Saddleback Church in California.

Dublin to host next 2018 World Meeting

Irish pilgrims in Philadelphia shared their excitement after Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, announced the 2018 World Meeting of Families would be held in Dublin.

“I’m shaking,” Irish pilgrim Mary Fitzgibbon said, explaining she had written a letter of appeal to the papal nuncio to Ireland, asking if the next World Meeting of Families could be held in Ireland “because we need it.”

Reports from Catholic News Service


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