By Sarah Mac Donald - 18 January, 2017
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, who is President of World Meeting of Families 2018, has encouraged the faithful to pray that Pope Francis comes to Ireland in August 2018.
In a video interview published ahead of Pope Francis’ meeting with the Irish bishops on Friday morning, Archbishop Martin said, “Pope Francis has now said to so many people that he wants to come, that we can be sure that this is his intention.”
However, the Archbishop also recalled that the Pope had said he was getting on in years and “mightn’t even be alive” at the time of the event, which takes place from 22 to 26 August 2018. “I think we should pray that he will come,” the Archbishop said.
He added that it was important to remember that the Pope would be coming for the World Meeting of Families and that every aspect of his visit in Ireland would be focused on the theme of the family.
“He is not coming, as some people say, on a papal visit and a meeting – they are intimately linked with one another and I think that will make this visit of the Holy Father even more important.”
Asked why he thought Pope Francis had chosen Dublin, Archbishop Martin recalled his conversation with the Pope at the end of the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.
“When Dublin was announced, he said to me very clearly ‘I am very happy it is Dublin. There were a number of places that were very anxious to have this event.’ He said, ‘I prefer Dublin. There is something about the message of the synod and there is something about the difficulty that Ireland has gone through that offers me an opportunity to say things that I want to say about the family, not just to Ireland but in other parts of the world – especially Europe.’”
Dr Martin added, “Nobody more than Pope Francis is aware of the difficulties that families encounter.”
He said there is an ideal that the Church has to propose to families.
“And that is an ideal, not something imposed and not something that is extraneous to them but it is something to help them understand that healthy and fulfilled family life is extremely important in the fulfillment of people as men and women and their children.”
He also revealed that over the next few months the Church in Ireland will be doing a lot of catechetical work and reaching out to parishes and seeing how parishes can be renewed through the family and getting families more involved in parish life.
But the Archbishop said it was important to ensure that families understand that life within their own four walls, the love of spouses for one another and their love and care of children, is “a really genuine Christian vocation which is vital in today’s society and vital for the building up of Ireland and of western culture particularly, which is probably more challenged than many other cultures in the world.”
The WMF2018 President said his biggest hope for the gathering is that it “will be an occasion to renew confidence in the family”.
He referred to “Families around the world that have experienced difficulties. The Pope has prepared this wonderful document on the mystery of love [Amoris Laetitia] and the joy of love and to restore some of that sense of joy and purpose, to tell people that it is within the family that they find fulfilment humanly and it is within the family that faith is transmitted from one generation to the next. We have to help families to carry out that mission.”
The World Meeting of Families will take place in Dublin from 22 to 26 August 2018. Pope Francis gave it the theme: ‘The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World’. The event will involve three key moments. Firstly, from the 22 to 24 August, there will be a three-day Congress incorporating workshops, talks and discussions, as well as a programme for young people and children.
This will be followed by a Festival of Families on Saturday 25 August, with a special concert-style event in which personal stories of faith will be shared by families representing the five continents of the world.
WMF2018 will close with a solemn Eucharistic Celebration on Sunday 26 August that will gather thousands of people from Ireland and all over the world.
The World Meeting of Families will also include exhibitions, cultural events and musical performances, events around Ireland, gestures of solidarity with those in need, celebrations and more.
To help prepare for WMF2018, a programme of pre-catechesis will be offered to parishes and families based largely on the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), encouraging reflection on different aspects of being family in the Church and in the world today.