Cardinal Farrell on WMOF: 'Pope Francis wishes to embrace all families'

In an interview ahead of the World Meeting of Families set to take place in Rome this week, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, says Pope Francis wants the WMOF to be lived in local Churches around the world, and points to the holy examples of married couples who have become canonized saints.

Jun 22, 2022

Pope Francis greets a family at a weekly General Audience (AFP or licensors)

By Deborah Castellano Lubov
With this week's 10th World Meeting of Families in Rome, Pope Francis wishes to embrace and engage all families around the world, and for this reason, he has asked for dioceses worldwide to also celebrate families locally.

Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Vatican's Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, suggested this as he sat down with Vatican News for an interview ahead of the World Meeting.

The Prefect not only shares his hopes for the meeting and why this year will be particularly poignant, as wars rage around the world, but also reflects on how the pandemic has affected families.

Moreover, he draws attention to married couples who became saints, and discusses his hopes for his Dicastery's recently-issued document intended to help couples prepare for marriage and live their married and family life.

Here is a transcript of the interview with Cardinal Farrell:

Q: What are your expectations as we finally approach this World Meeting of Families after the pandemic had caused it to be postponed?

Cardinal Farrell: I believe that the pandemic certainly caused a great disruption in the pastoral life of the Church at all levels. And it was impossible for two years to gather groups of people together. It was impossible to organize in our churches, prayer meetings, conferences… It is therefore my hope that the World Meeting of Families that will take place in Rome will be an injection of vitamins into the Church.

In the past, we invited many families. We knew that many families would not travel during this time, and especially if they had young children, out of fear… And so, we invited representatives from all the dioceses in the world. We have representatives from every continent. These are the people who were in charge of family life ministry in the different dioceses, churches, parishes, lay movements, organizations who work in the field of marriage and family life. And so, it is our hope to inject a new sense of the importance of this change, in the way of doing things within the Church, in preparation for marriage and family life.

Q: In your role as Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, how has the pandemic changed the nature of families and the nature of this meeting?

It has affected in a tremendous way the work of the Church in general and the work of our Dicastery. We have been speaking by Zoom for two years, but my experience of that, it's not the same as having a personal direct contact with the people involved. And Zoom tends to be one sided or two sided, but it is not a convergence of ideas around one particular point. But I hope that that is now past us in many parts of the world, even if not completely. I hope that once again, the Church will take up the question of family life, as Pope Francis always says. This is the central theme of the Church at the moment: marriage and family life. This is where we need to focus our attention. We do exactly as the Pope has requested us, to instill new life into it.

We have already published a book about the saint-couples who are beatified or canonized within the Church to prove that married life also has saints that everybody forgets about. We tend to remember the popes, the bishops, the martyrs and many other people...Two married couples, two, who have been beatified and canonized as saints in the Church, as couples. I think that is important.

The next point [is] that we have published the guidelines for the catechumenal path to prepare couples for marriage and families after marriage. And I would call it a kind of a 'vademecum' for bishops, priests and directors of family life ministry.

On how we go about accompanying couples: Many people would like to jump to the first step, and the first step is you have to find couples who have the qualities to be able to accompany other couples. You have to identify the couples who have the ability to teach, correct, and minister to other people. Not everybody has every quality in the book. We have to select people who are good at what they're doing. That's an important point.--Vatican News

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