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Rome Reports

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Tenth World Meeting of Families kicks off in Rome: “Family life is not impossible!”


The tenth World Meeting of Families kicked off in Rome with this performance of Leonard Cohen. The singers introduced their families to all those gathered in the Vatican’s Paul VI Audience Hall and had a message for them.

GIANLUCA GINOBLE

Singer, il Volo
If there is something I must say, it is that I also invite young people to dialogue with their own families, to cultivate the sensibility, the empathy, to tell the experiences of the past, be they of my grandfather or my family. To be able to experience their times and maybe even gain their values that we might not have. Do not forget of the family and especially not your grandparents.

A Ukrainian family with five children then shared their testimony. Their translator was a Spanish priest who has spent ten years in Ukraine at a small parish in eastern Kyiv. They said that despite the challenges, the war has strengthened their family.

Francesco Beltrame also addressed the Pope. He is the grandson of Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quatrocchi, the patrons of this World Meeting of Families and the first married couple to be beatified in 2001 by Pope John Paul II. He shared this about his grandparents:

They were able to be surprised by the beauty of the world. Beauty unites people.

But the most awaited moment was the arrival of Pope Francis, who entered the Paul VI audience hall using a wheelchair.

The Pope heard the stories of families from around the world, like that of Paul and Germaine Balenza from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

He had been repeatedly unfaithful to her, who spread his misdeeds on social media. They said that after a year of many fights, God saved their marriage through the Catholic community.

Pietro and Erika Chiriaco also shared their experience. They have six kids and welcomed into their family Iryna and her daughter Sofia, two Ukrainian refugees. 

IRYNA
Ukrainian refugee
Today I thank God for putting so many good people on our path that have helped us, that have shown us their large hearts and have given us hope.

Meanwhile, the younger members of the families had the urge to race across the stage and play in front of the Pope.

After listening to these stories, Pope Francis thanked the families for opening up their heart and delivering peace. He also told them that marriage is an important sacrament that is not done because people say it should, but because of love. 

POPE FRANCIS
Marriage is not a formality tobe fulfilled. One does not get married to be a “formal” Catholic, nor to comply with a rule, nor because the Church says so. You get married because you want to base your marriage on the love of Christ, who is as firm as a rock. In marriage, Christ gives himself to you, so that you have the strength to give yourselves to each other. Have courage, and then family life is not an impossible mission!

The tenth World Meeting of Families will take place in Rome until June 26, and seeks to promote family life as a vocation. In the coming days, it will host talks on welcome, the missionary vocation of families, and forgiveness as a path to holiness. 

RM

TR: JM