Family, work and holidays are God's gifts for a "fully human existence," said the Pope in a message to prepare for the next World Meeting of Families. While work and consumption behavior threaten to replace holidays as times of rest, he wrote, time off must recover its "true sense."
A letter from Pope Benedict to Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, in which he sets the tone for the next Word Meeting of Families, was presented at a press conference on Friday at the Holy See's Press Office. Cardinal Antonelli himself, as well as his top aides within the dicastery and representatives of the Archdiocese of Milan, were on hand to launch preparations for the encounter to take place in Milan from May 30-June 3, 2012.
In the letter, the Pope established the encounter's scope in "work" and "rest" as elements "intimately connected" with the life of the family. Juggling work and free time, he wrote, conditions the family's choices, influences intra-family relations and affects the family in the life of the Church and society.
"Sacred Scripture," he added, "tells us that the family, work and holidays are gifts and blessings from God to help us to live a fully human existence."
The Pope observed that in the contemporary world, the workplace is ruled by market competition seeking maximum profit and free time is perceived as a time for "evasion and consumption." These factors, he pointed out, "contribute to breaking up the family and the community and spreading an individualistic lifestyle."
What is needed, he concluded in the letter, is "a reflection and a commitment meant to reconcile work demands and times with those of the family and to recover the true sense of the holiday, especially Sunday ... the day of family, community and solidarity."
Pope Benedict himself will take part in the festivities of the World Meeting, presiding over an evening session for the families on June 2 and Mass the next morning.
Promoting the "work and rest" theme during the press conference, Cardinal Antonelli said that it "could become an important contribution to the defense and promotion of authentic human values in today's world, beginning with a new style of family life."