Limited In-person Attendance at 2022 World Meeting of Families Due to COVID-19
The bronze statue of St. Peter inside St. Peter’s Basilica. Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.
By Hannah Brockhaus
Vatican City, 30 September, 2021 / 11:00 am (ACI Africa).
As the global situation regarding the COVID-19 virus continues to unfold, the Vatican said Thursday that the 2022 World Meeting of Families will consist of hybrid in-person, online, and diocesan events.
The international family meeting, which has been in the planning stages for more than three years, will take place in Rome on June 22-26, 2022.
In a live-streamed press conference on Sept. 30, organizers explained that attendance at most of the Rome events will be limited to around 2,000 people, given the greater difficulty of international travel.
The 2,000 delegates will consist of families invited by bishops’ conferences and family associations to represent the local Churches.
Bishops are also being encouraged to organize their own local events in parallel with those happening in Rome.
Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the dicastery organizing the World Meeting of Families, said: “As announced by the Holy Father, this edition will not take place with a single meeting in Rome, but will be a real multicenter event, widespread in dioceses all over the world.”
He added that organizers hoped to make the meeting feel like everyone is together, even if everyone is not in the same place.
Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the vicar of Rome, said: “Choosing the city that holds the memories of the Apostles Peter and Paul as the main venue for the meeting highlights the original vocation of the Church of Rome which ‘presides over the communion of the Churches.’”
He continued: “In this context, the Diocese of Rome is working to ensure that all families in the world, especially those who will not be able to reach Rome, can equally participate in the meeting and live this extraordinary experience of faith.”
The events for the 10th World Meeting of Families, already postponed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, will be held in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall and be live streamed.
The opening day, on June 22, will consist of a festival of families with Pope Francis. On the days of June 23, 24, and 25, there will be Mass, Eucharistic adoration, conference talks, and panels.
Saturday, June 25 will include Mass in St. Peter’s Square with Pope Francis, the meeting’s delegates, and other families from the Diocese of Rome.
The five-day gathering will conclude with the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, June 26.
Gabriella Gambino, an under-secretary at the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, said that the office had purposefully left Sunday’s schedule open to allow bishops around the world to celebrate Mass with families in their dioceses.
Rome diocese has also prepared seven lessons in five different languages for diocesan bishops to use to prepare Catholics for next year’s gatherings.
“These catecheses constitute in themselves a journey of preparation for the meetings to be held both in Rome and in the individual dioceses,” Gambino said.
A website for the 2022 World Meeting of Families has been launched and the official hashtag will be #WMOF22, organizers said on Sept. 30.
The theme of the 2022 gathering will be “Family love: a vocation and a path to holiness.”
The official hymn of the meeting, unveiled on Thursday in a video, was written by Italian composer Fr. Marco Frisina. Called “We Believe in Love,” the song features nine languages.
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Cardinal De Donatis said that one part of the diocesan preparations for the World Meeting of Families was offering support to three local charities assisting families in need: a food pantry, a mother and baby home, and a care center for the elderly with Alzheimer’s disease.
The first World Meeting of Families took place in Rome in 1994 at the behest of Pope John Paul II. It was also held in the Eternal City in the year 2000. The meetings take place every three years and the most recent gathering was in Dublin, Ireland, in 2018.
Cardinal Farrell said on Sept. 30 that an estimated 35,000 people attended the family meeting in Dublin.
The 2022 edition of the event will be held at the end of the Amoris Laetitia Family Year, which marks the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on love in the family, Amoris laetitia. The Year, which began on March 19, will last for 15 months, culminating with the gathering in Rome.
The official image, painted by the Slovenian Jesuit Fr. Marko Ivan Rupnik, was unveiled in July. Entitled “This mystery is great,” the image features the Wedding at Cana, the first miracle of Jesus in the Gospel of John.