CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 15 December 2018

Print Version    Email to Friend
World meeting of families and two papal documents

The 500,000 tickets for the closing Mass of the World Meeting of Families 2018 on Sunday, August 26, in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, in Ireland, were been sold out within hours of their being made available.  
 
At the conclusion of the 2015 Eighth World Meeting of Families held in Philadephia, the United States of America, Pope Francis chose Dublin to host the Ninth World Meeting of Families from August 21 to 26 with the theme, The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World, inspired by the Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love). 
 
This major triennial event brings together families from across the world to celebrate, pray and reflect upon the central importance of marriage and the family as the cornerstone of our lives, of society and the Church. The gathering stirs up anticipation and curiosity on account of two papal documents: Blessed Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae (On human life), and Pope Francis’ 2016 apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia.
 
July 25 marked the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, one of the most influential and controversial religious documents of the 20th century. 
 
Half a century ago, it presciently warned that the wide acceptance of methods of artificial birth control was “opening wide the way to infidelity” and would lead to the lowering of moral standards, the devaluing of women as “a mere instrument(s) for the satisfaction” of men, and (its) imposition by civil authorities on growing populations. 
 
The prophetic vision of Paul VI was borne out and vindicated in the following decades: in 1979, communist China enacted its One-child policy. There were attempts of forced sterilisation in India as well,  although it was not legislated. The plan was abandonded for political reasons. Although the papal teaching was initially met with severe criticism even within the Church, the Catholic world considers Humanae Vitae the sacred guideline for life, love and family. 
 
Yet what bothers conservatives in the Church today is Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’s document on the family. For many, it came as a bolt from the blue with references to divorced and civilly married Catholics perhaps receiving Communion and touching on issues concerning Catholics with same-sex-attraction. Many cardinals and bishops disagreed with the pope and some even publicly questioned him, demanding a clarification. 
 
The critics of Amoris Laetitia are planning an alternative conference in Ireland to be held at the same time as the World Meeting of Families. It will focus on Pope Pius XI’s 1930 encyclical, Casti Connubii (On Christian Marriage), which addressed marriage, procreation and contraception almost 40 years before Humanae Vitae was published. 
 
However, instead of giving his detractors a direct answer, Pope Francis intends to provide a deeper understanding of Amoris Laetitia through the celebration of the World Meeting of Families. 
 
The run-up to the event has been meticulously planned. Resource materials, both video and literature, are available for the public on the webpage of the event. A new series of digital animations and a six-part television series have been launched as part of ongoing preparations for Pope Francis’ visit.  Both of these new resources focus on Amoris Laetitia. They provide a fairly good understanding of what to expect in the upcoming event.  jose