“… the ideal family does not exist but great families do exist.”
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin at Dublin Conference (1 June 2017) for national delegates preparing for World Meeting of Families 2018.
Speaking notes of Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin
World Meeting of Families 2018 Delegates Dublin Conference
Dublin City University, 1st June 2017
“Welcome to Dublin. I am very honoured that Pope Francis has chosen the Archdiocese of Dublin to host the World Meeting of Families 2018. The entire Church in Ireland looks forward to this event and looks with confidence at the World Meeting as a moment of a renewal and a strengthening of Christian family life inspired by the Joy of the Gospel.
I welcome you all to Dublin and, in particular, I welcome Cardinal Kevin Farrell President of the Dicastery for Laity, family and life to a city, which despite having spent so much of his life and ministry in the United States of America, he still knows well.
The World Meeting of Families is not just a five-day event due to take place in August 2018. It is part of a process which Pope Francis initiated by calling two Sessions of the Synod of Bishops, prepared by a worldwide consultation, about the role of the family in modern day society around the world and how the Church should respond.
Pope Francis drew together the fruits of those Synodal discussions in a wonderful document Amoris Laetitia, the Joy of Love, in which he reflected on the deep significance of the mutual love of spouses and of the love of spouses for their children for the good of humanity and the stability of society everywhere.
Today in public debate about the family, we so often speak in terms of crisis. Pope Francis looks to the family with a tone of confidence. He does not idealize the family. He is very realistic “I thank God that many families, which are far from considering themselves perfect, live in love, fulfil their calling and keep moving forward, even if they fall many times along the way”
The World Meeting of Families will be a moment when we will speak of confidence, but also of realism stressing both the challenges and the joys of family life. That is the reality of the life of every family: the ideal family does not exist. Great families do exist. They need the support of the Church.
The message of the World Meeting must be that the Church wishes to be close to families, especially those who experience challenge. It must be a message that brings home the fact the Church recognises the difficulties families encounter. It must be a message that recognises that families fail, but that recognition should never appear in a way in which families are left feeling alienated or condemned.
The message of the love and mercy of Jesus is a message that opens out an ideal, but which knows also that Jesus himself is there at every stage holding out a helping and redeeming hand when people fail. Jesus reaches out lifting up those who feel that they cannot reach an ideal; he challenges young people to rise up to understand the value of fidelity in a world where everything seems provisional and can be thrown away when it might seem that it has no immediate utility.
Our meeting in these days is aimed at helping you, our guests from various parts of the world, to understand what the World Meeting is about and how and where it will be celebrated. But we meet already entering into the spirit of the World Meeting and I am very grateful to the representatives of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales who have accepted our invitation to lead a seminar on Marriage Preparation, a theme which Amoris Laetitia indicated as a vital component of any renewal of our understanding of Christian marriage.
Our gathering of men and women responsible for the pastoral care and the promotion of the family is a moment in which we reflect on the common concern of the Church for the family in widely different social and cultural contexts. I wish the meting every success and blessing and I hope that your experience here in Dublin in these days will be a catalyst for you in helping spread the message about the significance of the World Meeting and of the warm welcome that the participants at the Meeting will experience when they come to Dublin in 2018.
I hope also that you will go away renewed in your commitment to fostering marriage and family life wherever you live and minister, and that you will draw from this meeting some new insights about the deep joy which can be inspired by the Gospel of the Family. ENDS