Card. Antonelli on the 7th World Meeting of Families in Milan
"What is reality and what is fiction?". The question was raised by Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, - tired albeit unquestionably contented - upon the conclusion of a day and an event: the 7th World Meeting of Families in Milan, dedicated to the family, work and holiday, "whose successful outcome is far beyond my expectations". His Eminence reiterated the words of Benedict XVI: "it's wonderful to be with the living Church", not the fabricated image of a church which in the past days the press depicted with venomous tones, but rather, the "true" image of the family.
Your Eminence, which message, and which idea of the family in particular, emerged in the past days, could contribute to the development of a joint reflection by the Church and by society as a whole?
"The members of a normal family (i.e. the stable man-woman couple, united in marriage with two or more children) are happier, and this family does good to society. In fact, although such family may be economically poorer it is richer with human relations. Mine is not a 'partisan' claim. It's the result of reliable sociological findings presented during the pastoral-theological Congress held in the framework of the 7th World Meeting of Families. Researches show that Church standing is not ideological but rather grounded on results of scientific studies, and confirmed by real life".
Could the reflections developed during the meeting provide a global contribution as regards the conciliation of work and the family?
"The families' specific contribution to the economic system consists in the formation of human capital that enterprises need just as much as they need financial and technologic capital. The family should be supported by an organic family policy designed to step up its identity and rights, along with concrete measures, progressively implemented step by step, on themes such as housing, employment, schools, services, transport and the reunification of migrant families. Enterprises, in turn, should be more family-friendly in terms of human solidarity. It is also in their own interest, since, as the Pope said, it is proved that those enterprises whose employees enjoy greater flexibility, thus harmonizing their free time, also produce more".
What is the profound motivation of the defense of Sunday "to the bitter end?"
"The Pope said that by defending Sunday we're defending man's freedom. And it's true! We must defend Sunday against market invasion, against extensive, non-stop working schedules. When Sunday is celebrated as it should it confers meaning and beauty also to ordinary life. It dilates the time of holiday also in festive days. The family thus becomes a place for daily joy, good spirits, leisure, mutual care and dedication, relational and affective richness, reasonable soberness. For Christians, Sunday is the festivity par excellence, sanctified with the Eucharistic celebration".
From Milan to Philadelphia, due to host the next World Meeting of Families in 2015, what journey do you envisage for the next three years?
"We want to continue prompting reflection, at all levels, on the family today: an assumption which used to be taken for granted. Now things have changed. Our commitment must be at cultural and juridical level, but we also have to support family associations: developments don't take place on their own. The Pontifical Council for the Family will be holding a meeting of university professors and bishops, scheduled to take place in October, in order to prompt dialogue between the academic and the ecclesial realms. Families are called to be the protagonists of the pastoral care that is addressed to them, and to be the recipients of evangelization. Moreover, studies and commitments must be accompanied by facts, significant experiences and by new developments at social level, whose concrete examples I took as role models".
The event in Milan was a great feast of the families gathered around the Pope. What impressed you the most of this relationship?
"I spoke with the Holy Father. He was serene, content, and greatly encouraged by the families' enthusiasm. I appreciated the direct and simple way with which he addressed with the families the theme of Sunday, the reconciliation of work and family life, employment, and notably, the way in which he called upon policymakers to be concrete, to act for citizens' good, and to avoid making promises they cannot keep".
(05 June 2012)