Pope Benedict XVI has called for families around the world to restore the real meaning
of rest to feast days. His call came as preparations for the VII World Meetings of
Families were launched Friday at the Holy See Press Office. Cardinal Ennio Antonelli,
president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, presented Pope Benedict’s Letter
for World Meeting, which is due to be held in the Italian city of Milan from 30 May
to 2 June 2012, on the theme: "The Family: Work and Rest".
"Work and rest",
writes the Pope in his Letter, "are intimately associated with the life of families.
They influence the choices the family makes, the relationship between the spouses
and among parents and children, and they affect the dealings the family has with society
and with the Church".
The Holy Father further highlights how "In our own time,
unfortunately, the organisation of work, which is planned and implemented as a function
of market competition and maximising profit, and the concept of rest as a time for
evasion and consumption, contribute to the break-up of families and communities, and
to the spread of an individualistic lifestyle. It is therefore necessary to reflect
and commit ourselves to reconciling the demands and requirements of work with those
of the family, and to recover the true significance of rest, especially on Sundays,
the weekly Easter, the day of the Lord and the day of man, the day of the family,
of the community and of solidarity.
"The forthcoming World Meeting of Families",
he adds, "is a propitious occasion to re-examine work and rest in the perspective
of families that are united and open to life, well inserted into society and the Church,
attentive to the quality of their relationships as well as to the economy of the family
The Pope goes on to express the hope that "during the course
of 2011 - thirtieth anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation 'Familiaris consortio',
the 'Magna Charta' of family pastoral care - valid initiatives may begin at the parish,
diocesan and national level with the aim of identifying experiences of work and rest
in their most authentic and positive aspects, with particular reference to their influence
on the real lives of families".
At the end of his Letter the Holy Father explains
how the Seventh World Meeting of Families, "like earlier such meetings, will last
five days culminating on Saturday evening with a 'Feast of Witness' and on Sunday
morning with solemn Mass. During these two celebrations, at which I shall preside,
we will come together as 'a family of families'".
Commenting on the theme of
the letter, Cardinal Antonelli mentioned the problems affecting the family which,
he said, "is becoming privatised and reduced to a place of individual affections and
gratification. It does not receive adequate cultural, juridical, economic or political
support and suffers the negative conditioning of complex centrifugal dynamics, among
which by no means the least important are the organisation of work and the degeneration
of rest into 'free time'". In this context, the cardinal highlighted how the theme
of the Milan meeting "could become an important contribution to the defence and promotion
of authentic human values in today's world, beginning with a new style of family life".
the family, it is important to encourage the redistribution of domestic tasks, and
a lifestyle inspired by sobriety, concern for personal relationships, openness towards
the ecclesial community and the needs of others. Finally", Cardinal Antonelli concluded,
"feast days must be celebrated in such a way as to illuminate the significance of
life and of work itself, strengthening the cohesion of the family and its insertion
into the wider community, reviving the relationship with Christ, Lord and Saviour
Who accompanies us on our daily journey".
For his part, Bishop Erminio De Scalzi
observed that "it would be significant if we were able to welcome poor families from
the South of the world to Milan. I am thinking," he said, "of people who live in counties
where it is difficult to make their voice heard. It is important that the representatives
of these families should have the chance to bring their testimony of life, and tell
us how they understand work and rest as regards the family nucleus".