For this reason, he said, and because of the ongoing attacks on that basic paradigm of the family, the Vatican has committed itself to holding as one of its highest priorities the World Meeting of Families, held every three years in different cities around the world.
The preparation for the meeting has been going on for three years since the 2009 meeting in Mexico City. Those preparations have included the conference in Rome in 2010 on the “Rights of Infancy” and an international private academic seminar with pro-life associations.
Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, said that subjects to be covered in the catechesis at the event, already translated into 11 languages, will be “inter-religious marriage, regulation of fertility, demography, the ethic of life from conception to natural death, the ethics of health, the rights of minors.”
Officials expect at least a million to attend the Papal Mass launching the event, and at least 300,000 to attend the Feast of Testimonies.
Bishop John Hine, head of the Committee for Marriage and Family Life of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and a delegate to the meeting, told Vatican Radio today that the trend to redefine marriage in many countries is one of the greatest threats to the family, calling it a move toward “destroying the home and the family.”
The World Meeting of Families is a major project of the Vatican and a favourite movement of Pope Benedict XVI who has mentioned it twice in public speeches in the last two weeks. From May 30th May to June 3rd, officials and family-promoting NGOs and groups will discuss the theme, “The Family: Work and Celebration”.
Calling the family a “major issue,” Bishop Hines noted that the British government’s current consultation on “gay marriage” excluded the possibility of discussing whether the definition of marriage should be changed, allowing only submissions on how it will be changed.
The Catholic bishops of England and Wales, he said, have raised with politicians the fact that “this was never in any party’s political manifestos; they didn’t get elected to do this and yet they’re suddenly foisting it upon us.”
Bishop Hine endeared himself to Catholic pro-life campaigners across Britain when he attended a highly publicized rally outside a busy London abortion facility at the end of March, catching some heavy public criticism from the abortion lobby and the media by doing so.