Benedict XVI Hoping to Visit Mexico in '09

Family Congress Preparations About 60% Complete

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By Marta Lago

ROME, APRIL 4, 2008 (Zenit.org).- A papal trip for the 6th World Meeting of Families is not only the hope of Mexicans, who will host the event, but also a desire of Benedict XVI, affirmed the archbishop of Mexico City.

Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera told ZENIT that preparations are under way for the Jan. 13-18, 2009, event, with spaces large enough to accommodate the crowds the Pope would attract, estimated at some 2 million.

The cardinal spoke with ZENIT as he is in Rome to participate in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family, under way through Saturday.

On Thursday, Cardinal Rivera Carrera presented the council with a progress report, explaining that the 6th World Meeting will follow the outline set by previous events: a theological-pastoral congress, a celebration of families with testimonies and a closing Mass.

"We are presenting various possibilities: a place for 2 million people, a place for 1 million, a place for 140,000. […] If the Holy Father can't participate for some reason, obviously the spaces will be very much reduced," the cardinal said.

But he affirmed that Mexico is eager for a papal visit: "We want the Pope to come and the Holy Father also has the desire to go, but I don't know what commitments he has for those dates. […] I hope that he decides and travels."

Strategic location

The archbishop of Mexico noted that his country has a "strategic" position regarding family and life issues, with "a great influence toward the north" due to the numerous presence of Mexican immigrants in the United States and Canada, and influence toward the rest of Latin America because of joint collaboration in pastoral projects.

"Problems are often spoken about, but its rare [to speak] about the capacity the family has to form, to educate in the faith, in values, in civic life," the cardinal said. "We want to promote the family as a center of true education […] a transmitter of values […] not just of knowledge or services."

Cardinal Norberto Rivera said about 60% of the preparations are complete, as the event is now some nine months away.

He said the groundwork is "fundamental, not only from the material point of view," but in the necessity of "helping families to prepare themselves as such to live their fundamental values" and then "to encourage pastoral ministry for families in all the dioceses of the world, to counteract the attacks that are undermining the family."