By Inés San Martín
ROME (Crux) — Adapting to ever-changing COVID-19 related restrictions, next year’s World Meeting of Families (WMF) will take place both in Rome and every diocese around the world.
“It will always be a worldwide event, as in the past, only this time it will be lived in all the local Churches all over the world,” said American Cardinal Kevin Farrell when presenting the event on Thursday. “Together, in spiritual communion, but not all in the same venue!”
Scheduled for June 22-26, 2022, it will be the 10th edition of the event. The last one took place in 2018 in Dublin.
The event is being organized by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, headed by Cardinal Farrell, and the Diocese of Rome.
In the Eternal City, the encounter will be held in the Paul VI Hall, located in the Vatican, and where the public weekly papal audiences are held when not in St. Peter’s Square. Some 2,000 delegates will come from all over the world, with the bishops conferences financing the traveling expenses and the Vatican chipping in when local churches cannot afford it.
Gabriella Gambino, undersecretary of the dicastery putting together the event said that “welcoming families and giving them the opportunity to collaborate with the shepherds in moving forth family-oriented pastoral care” is at the center of the event.
“It’s very important that we can give a witness of what we are, all of those of us who’re married, have children, we want to be active members of the Church, donate ourselves, share our gifts,” she said.
Cardinal Farrell also said that after the World Meeting of Families held in Philadelphia and Dublin, where 20,000 and 35,000 people signed up, Pope Francis feared these worldwide events weren’t truly involving all families in the world, but only touching the lives of those who were able to participate.
“It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to travel, increasingly more expensive, more so even than just three years ago,” he said. “Using modern means of communication, the message of the WMF can arrive to every corner of the earth. And we hope to use all the modern means of communication to bring the message of love and how important families are.”
The first WMF was held in Rome in 1994, which had been declared by the United Nations as the International Year of the Family. Pope John Paul II wanted the Catholic Church to join in the celebration, and among the activities proposed was the gathering in Rome. It has been happening ever since, organized by the Pontifical Council for the Family, today merged into Cardinal Farrell’s dicastery.
Reflecting on the line of the prayer written for the event that says “we pray to You for all families faced with difficulty and suffering caused by illness or circumstances of which only You know,” Cardinal Farrell said that he hopes “all people around the world would feel like they are part of one human family, Christian or not,” and when Christians pray, they pray for everyone.
“We are all human, living in different and multiple circumstances,” he said. “People need to know that all prayer in the Church is open to everybody. We pray for everybody.
“We would hope to bring a message to the people around the world that God loves them and God cares for them.”