By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As he prepared to travel to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families, Pope Francis said he hoped his visit would “remind us all of the essential place of the family in the life of society and in the building of a better future for today’s young people.”
The Vatican released a three-minute video message from the pope Aug. 21 in anticipation of his trip to Dublin and to Knock Aug. 25-26.
The video included very brief passages in English, a language the pope studied in Ireland for a few months in 1980. He said, “I am excited to think I come back to Ireland!”
The World Meeting of Families, he said, “is a celebration of the beauty of God’s plan for the family. It is also an occasion for families from all over the world to meet and support one another in living out their special vocation.”
Pope Francis said he recognized that “families today face many challenges in their efforts to embody faithful love, to bring up children with sound values and to be a leaven of goodness, love and mutual concern in the larger community,” and he said he knew his listeners already know that.
Referring to Ireland’s great strides in overcoming years of Catholic-Protestant strife, Pope Francis said he also prayed his trip would “further the growth of unity and reconciliation” among all Christians “as a sign of that lasting peace which is God’s dream for our whole human family.”
“I ask everyone to pray that this great festival will be a moment of joy and serenity, a caress of Jesus’ tender love for all families, and indeed, for all God’s children,” the pope said.
Office of Child and Youth Protection
The Diocese of Phoenix encourages anyone who has been a victim of child sexual abuse or knows of any abuse by any employee or volunteer of the Roman Catholic Church to come forward by reporting to law enforcement, the Department of Child Safety and the Office of Child and Youth Protection.
Safe Environment Training
The mission of the Safe Environment Training Office is to prevent sexual, physical or emotional abuse and/or neglect of children and young people through continued education, building awareness, and maintaining a commitment to keeping all children and young people safe.
Pope to meet abuse survivors
During his visit, the pope will also meet survivors of sexual abuse, but it will be up to the survivors to decide whether any information about the meeting will be released, said the director of the Vatican press office.
Greg Burke, press director, told reporters Aug. 21 that from the moment the Vatican decided the World Meeting of Families 2018 would be in Dublin, it was clear that the pope would have to acknowledge the crimes committed against thousands of Irish Catholics by priests in parishes and by priests, religious brothers and nuns in schools, orphanages and other institutions.
The date, time and location of the meeting and the list of survivors invited will not be released until after the meeting, and then only with the permission of the survivors taking part, Burke said.
Pope Francis wants the trip to focus on families, Burke said, which is why he is not going to Northern Ireland on the same visit. Even the moments dictated by protocol — for example, meetings with government officials — will focus on the family, he said.
Asked whether the pope and the Vatican were concerned that with renewed media attention on clerical sexual abuse the theme would overshadow the pope’s focus on the family, Burke responded, “Any trip to Ireland was not only going to be about the family.”
“The pope is well rested and ready and wants to talk about the family,” Burke said.
However, in discussing the individual events on the pope’s schedule in Ireland, the spokesman also mentioned that Aug. 25 Pope Francis would begin his visit to Dublin’s co-cathedral by praying silently before a candle in the Blessed Sacrament chapel that burns for the abuse survivors.
Without providing details, Burke also said the pope would talk about abuse in at least one of his speeches during the trip.