Opening Speech of the Theological and Pastoral Congress

As Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, I greet with enormous joy all the people that came to this Congress with which we begin the great spiritual event of this end of the millennium; The Second World Meeting of the Pope with Families.

First of all, I greet Your Eminence, Mr. Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, President of the Ponitifical Council for the Family, all the Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops that have come from Brazil and the whole world. The welcome to the Members of Pontifical Council for Family, all the Priests of the world, Religious Men and Women, consecrated people and the laity, whose presence is singularly important. A word of particular welcome deserve the couples that, with their life of Faith, dedicated each day, to marriage and family, and with their experience will contribute a lot for the success of this significant symposium.

I. This Congress intends to study the challenge that distress and threat the family, today. First of all, we want to take advantage of this great opportunity to help families to keep, respect and strengthen what is specific to them.

II. The great target is the mother-cell of the society, or as the Concillium says, the "domestic Church".

Preserve, promote the identity of family leads us to a larger exigency. The Holy Father, John Paul II in "Familiaris Consortio" "It is important to penetrate deeply the profound and multiple bonds that link, between themselves, the Church and the Christian family (…making that it, by its ways, be the living image and historical representation of own mystery of the Church.(n.49,2) If it is true, as the Pope says with so much emphasis, that "the Church reveals to the Christian family its true identity, what it is, and must be, according to designation of God" and "it is first of all, the Church Mother that generates, educates and builds the Christian family, so it leaves a fundamental statement. Every work, every discussion over the family will be useless, if we don’t take charge, with dedication and love, the worry about the true identity of the Church.

Second matrix from which sprouts the full identity of the family, it must be affirmed and constantly renewed in three levels: in the Word, in the saintity, in the communio. In the Word which announces, truly, all the mystery of Jesus Christ. "Center and Summit" of all preachment, must be the fact that "in Jesus Christ, Son of God made man, dead and resurrected, the salvation is offered to all mankind, as a gift of grace and mercy of God." (cf EN 27 and 22; Saint Domingo n. 27 3 12). In relation to saintity, the Church with all its members, first in those who are the announcers of the mysteries of Christ, as well as the parents of family who are the earliest announcers of the new generation, must give testimony of the only saintity of Christ, whose living body and holy temple, we are. In relation to the unit, the Church won’t be able to give appropriate testimony to the world, its true identity, even it’s true mission, if it can’t profess, with joy and new vitality, the generous and thankful union around the Successor of Peter and, in each diocese, around the Bishop that is in communion with the Universal College of Bishops and the Pope.

Therefore, I invite all of you to dedicate yourselves in order that, these days don’t be only of work and discussion, but fundamentally of prayer and renovation in faith and love to the Church. And that they can be a delightful meeting with Peter, in the person of his successor John Paul II.

Living in a true, holy and unit Church, the family will be able to take charge, today, its role of faithful and announcer community, community in dialogue with God, community to serve mankind. (FD 50,5)
Cardinal D. Eugenio de Araujo Sales, Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro.

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