Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 3, 2003
World's families meet in Manila
Families reminded of mission to evangelize
By Catholic News Service
The Fourth World Meeting of Families closed with an emphasis on the duty of Christian families to evangelize and with a celebration of their struggle to witness to Christ today.
Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, preached at the Jan. 26 closing Mass, which coincided with the feast of the Holy Child.
Lopez reminded families of their mission to evangelize and proclaim to the world "the mercies of God, the permanent miracle of his love in your marriage, in your community of life and love, in the family."
The same call was echoed in the statement The Christian Family Is Good News for the Third Millennium, prepared by a theological congress taking place at the same time and read at its closing Jan. 24.
The cardinal called on families to protect their children and surround them with tenderness.
"Poverty, against which we have to fight courageously in the midst of widespread injustice in this world, becomes a bitter tragedy when children are abandoned or become victims and (are) made to pay for the irresponsibility of parents who have promised to love one another until death," the cardinal said.
Lopez also urged governments to respect life and oppose abortion, which he said destroys families.
"There is no better investment for the government, for legislators, than to favour the families, strengthen their unity, support them, (and) not to obstruct the mission and rights of spouses."
The cardinal also urged doctors not to be "accomplices in assaults against the human person" by performing abortions.
The cardinal thanked families for their participation and said, "See you in Valencia, Spain," site of the 2006 world meeting of families.
The highlight of the Jan. 22-26 meeting was a Jan. 25 satellite link with Pope John Paul in Rome. About 500,000 people were present for the pope's remarks, reported UCA News, an Asian Church news agency.
More than 6,000 participants from 82 countries attended the world meeting.
A vigil that followed the satellite link helped prepare for the closing Mass the next morning in downtown Manila.
Some people at the Jan. 26 Mass had camped all night at the park. Romulo Isana, 33, a fisherman from north of Manila, sat on plastic sacks with his wife and three children during the vigil.
The world meeting opened Jan. 22 with a colourful liturgy and a call to preserve the family as a "sanctuary of love and life."
"This is truly a gathering of families!" Cardinal Jaime Sin of Manila said. "You have come from every part of the world, bringing with you the deep conviction that the family is a great gift of God, an original gift, marked by his blessing."
Sin warned that without a Christian vision of the family the future of human civilization is at risk.
Sin said the signs of family fragility are everywhere in the modern age, "when the rate of divorce and broken families is at an all-time high, when proponents of same-sex marriages question the basic family structure of father, mother and child, and when the traditional values of fidelity and commitment are frowned upon as vestiges of an antiquated past."
The cardinal said the family is still the good news for the third millennium.
"But not simply 'family.' It has to be a 'Christian family,'" he said.
Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson also addressed the congress, saying that governments must consider the family at the centre of government policies, not at its margins.
He warned of a contemporary trend to see procreation as a strictly reproductive issue, instead of placing it in the context of the family as the "process of begetting, bearing and raising children in order that they may become mature, beneficial and fully humane members of our society."