The World Meeting of Families opened in Dublin yesterday, a three-day event that will bring 37,000 people from 116 countries to meet together with Pope Francis.
Pope Francis addressed the opening session in a video message, and will arrive in Dublin on Saturday.
Cardinal of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, told a crowd of several hundred people that Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’s 2106 document on the family, has “gained much importance” in the Church by illustrating that marriage and the family are “profoundly rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition.”
Arguing that “children want their parents to be faithful and to remain together,” Cardinal Schönborn said traditional family life corresponds to a basic inclination of human nature. He also led an interfaith discussion panel.
Australia’s Dr Ron and Mavis Pirola presented at a panel titled, ‘Commitment to Married Life’.
Afterwards, they sent a couple of tips back home in a video message for couples wanting to know how to remain in love, as they are, after 59 years of marriage.
“Keep God in your life,” said Mrs Pirola.
“Keep looking to Jesus especially in the tough times. Forgive well and keep listening to each other carefully.”
Dr Pirola said that saying “thank you” to each other and to God is “a wonderful habit” that “takes you out of yourself and focuses you on the other person”.
Three families representing the United States, France and Spain presented their personal experiences on family life and marriage during a panel titled ‘The Logic of Complementarity: Why Mothers and Fathers Matter in Amoris Laetitia’.
“Our differences as men and women are important and are a gift from God,” said Claire and John Grabowsky, from the committee on Laity, Marriage, Family and Youth of the US bishops’ conference.
However, they added, rigid assumption of gender roles are “ultimately unhelpful”.
Family delegates from the Archdiocese of Sydney, Branko and Jelena Poljak, said one of the best highlights was the opening Mass.
“It was very powerful. It was one and half hours long but it seemed to go by very quickly,” said Mrs Poljak.
Mr Poljak said it was great to see their children witness so many people “with similar values all coming together”.