.- More than 300 clergy and lay people are gathering Rome over the next two days to examine the indispensable role of grandparents in the Church and in families.
The occasion for the gathering is the 18th plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family, whose theme is: "The presence and witness of grandparents in families".
On Thursday morning, Archbishop Fernando Filoni, substitute of the Secretariat of State, addressed the gathering on the subject of the role of the elderly in the Church and in society.
Among the lay participants who have been invited to bear witness to the role of grandparents in modern society are the Italian politicians Marcello Pera and Giulio Andreotti, as well as a large number of experts from five continents.
Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture will talk about grandparents as they appear in the Bible, whereas "the figure of grandparents in immigrant families" will be the subject of the contribution from Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.
Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, archbishop of Bologna, Italy, will also deliver a much anticipated talk on Pope Paul VI's Encyclical "Humanae vitae" forty years after its publication.
The council will also hear testimony on the different situations grandparents live in around the world. The Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, Dr. Carl Anderson, will present the situation of grandparents in the U.S. The role grandparents in Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin America will also be examined.
Finally, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, archbishop of Mexico, will inform the gathering on preparations for the 6th World Meeting of Families, which is due be held in Mexico City in 2009.