World Meeting of Families begins in Rome

Adapting to the post-pandemic world, the Catholic festival known as the World Meeting of Families begins in Rome today, with events to be livestreamed around the world. The event was originally scheduled for 2021, in order to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the publication of Pope Francis’s encyclical on the family, Amoris Laetitia, but was moved to June 22-26, 2022, due to the pandemic.

Pope Francis also requested a change to the usual format. Instead of thousands of families flocking to the host city, the WMOF 2022 is by invite only. Participants are primarily representatives of episcopal conferences and ecclesial movements. An estimated 2000 families will be attending, including 22 Australians.The gathering will focus on the theme “Family love: a vocation and a path to holiness” and marks the end of the Amoris Laetitia Family Year.

According to the published program, the meeting will cover topics ranging from educating young people in sexuality to being Christians in the era of social media, and from families that suffer domestic violence to accompanying couples in their first year of marriage.Pope Francis will participate in three events: The Festival of Families, which will open the gathering today; Mass in St Peter’s Square on Saturday; and he will address families at the Angelus on Sunday and commission them to share what they have learned with others when they return home.

If he upholds tradition, the city and year for the next meeting will be announced at this time.

On Sunday, Pope Francis thanked the bishops, parish priests and family pastoral workers who have called families to moments of reflection, celebration and festivity.

“Above all, I thank the married couples and families who will bear witness to family love as a vocation and path to holiness. Have a good meeting!” Pope Francis concluded.