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Reflect on Impact of Work, Free Time on Family, Pope Says
Cindy Wooden
Source: Catholic News Service
Published: Sunday, September 26, 2010
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Scott and Ava Gressin, with their children, participate in a charity 5K run/walk.
VATICAN CITY (CNS)—Pope Benedict XVI has asked Catholics around the world to use 2011 as a time to reflect on the impact of their work and their free-time pursuits on their family life.

The reflection, he said, should help the church prepare for the Seventh World Meeting of Families, which will be in Milan May 30-June 3, 2012.

The theme of the gathering will be: "The Family: Work and Celebration."

"Work and celebration are intimately tied with family life," impacting the choices family members make and their relations with each other, with society and with the church, the pope said in a letter to Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

The cardinal released the pope's letter Sept. 24 and presided over a news conference to discuss initial preparations for the gathering in Milan, which Pope Benedict has promised to attend.

The World Meeting of Families and the Pontifical Council for the Family were established by Pope John Paul II in 1981 when he published his apostolic exhortation, "Familiaris Consortio," on the role of the Christian family.

In his letter to the cardinal, Pope Benedict said the Book of Genesis makes clear that both work and rest are blessings from God. But, he said, in modern societies where market competition and maximum profit are seen as all-important, families have little time together and even days off are spent shopping or pursuing individual interests.

"There is a need to promote a reflection about and a commitment to reconciling the needs of work time and family time, recovering the true meaning of days off, especially Sundays," which should be dedicated to God, to family and to solidarity, the pope said.

Cardinal Antonelli said the church's message is that it is possible to run a business, "aiming not at maximum profit, but a just profit, compatible with the needs of workers, their families, society, protecting the environment" and offering workers flexibility so that they can meet all their family obligations.

Family members, too, have to do more to ensure that each member of the family shares in domestic chores and has free time to relax and enjoy the company of others, he said.

Cardinal Antonelli also said the pontifical council hopes that by the time the World Meeting of Families opens in May 2012 his office will have finished a new set of guidelines and suggestions for Catholic marriage preparation programs.

The cardinal said the document would not give hard and fast rules for what preparation programs must include and how long they must last, but it will include suggestions drawn from the estimated 400 program outlines sent in by dioceses and Catholic organizations that prepare couples for marriage.

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