by Sarah MacDonald
DUBLIN (CNS) — Some of the church’s best-known prelates have been lined up to expound on church teachings on the family for the ninth World Meeting of Families.
On Feb. 28, organizers of the international gathering, to be held in Dublin Aug. 21-26, unveiled the preliminary program for the Pastoral Congress, Aug. 22-24. The festival of families will be Aug. 25, followed by the final outdoor Mass in Dublin’s Phoenix Park Aug. 26. The Vatican has not confirmed that Pope Francis will attend.
Brenda Drumm, media and communications manager for the World Meeting of Families, told Catholic News Service that the decision to release the preliminary program, with the titles of the pastoral congress’ panel sessions and workshops, was due to pressure from would-be participants eager to find out what the lineup is. Thousands of families from overseas are expected to travel to Ireland for the event.
The Pastoral Congress will offer a daily program of workshops and discussions at the Royal Dublin Society, the location of the 2012 International Eucharistic Congress. All of the themes chosen for workshops and panel sessions relate to issues dealt with in “Amoris Laetitia” (The Joy of Love), Pope Francis’ 2016 apostolic exhortation, written after two synods of bishops on the family.
Each day, Mass will be celebrated in the main arena of the Royal Dublin Society. The congress also will incorporate prayerful activities for individuals and families, including a tailored program for children (ages 5-12) and young people (13-17).
Prelates who have confirmed their participation include Cardinals Christoph Schonborn of Vienna; Gerald Cyprien Lacroix of Quebec; Peter Turkson, head of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development; Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines; and as well as Kevin Farrell, head of the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life.
But Drumm emphasized that the pastoral congress has equally high-profile lay speakers, moderators and panelists; she said their names will be released in a few weeks.
“We have chosen parents, family members, priests, religious, business leaders, industry experts and those who will share personal experience of issues that are a challenge in daily family life,” she said.
She cited workshops dealing with handing on the faith, the impact of digital technology, responding to homelessness, challenges of parenting, the role of grandparents and coping with crisis and hurt in marriage.
“We will also be looking at the vocation of fatherhood; the role and rights of parents in Catholic education and the family as an agent of peace in a turbulent world,” Drumm said.