Also participating in today's press conference were Bishop Jean Lafitte, Msgr. Carlos Simon Vazquez and Fr. Gianfranco Grieco O.F.M. Conv., respectively secretary, under secretary and bureau chief of the pontifical council; Bishop Erminio De Scalzi, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Milan and the archbishop's delegate for the organisation of the meeting, and Fr. Davide Milani, head of social communications for the archdiocese of Milan.
"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 nucleus itself".
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".
"Within 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".
OP/ VIS 20100924 (770)