Vatican to Consider Grandparents' Roles

Pontifical Council to Focus on Families' Oldest Members

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 2, 2008 ( The plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family will be dedicated this year to the theme of grandparents.

The assembly on "Grandparents: Their Testimony and Presence in the Family" begins Thursday in the Vatican and ends Saturday. Organizers of the conference aim to highlight grandparents' role of keeping families together; supporting and caring for grandkids; mediation in the relationship of the couple; and the relationship between parents and children.

Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, will begin the assembly, followed by Archbishop Fernando Filoni of the Vatican secretariat of state, who will speak on the role of the elderly in the Church and society.

Friday and Saturday will be characterized by contributions from the universal Church, ranging from a Mexican cardinal who will speak on the preparation for the upcoming 6th World Meeting of Families to be held in Mexico City in January, 2009, to an archbishop from Cameroon who will speak on the role of grandparents in African Christian culture.

Other conferences will turn attention to the role of grandparents in families touched by migration. Couples from Australia, Congo, Chile and the Philippines will give a round-table discussion. And the conference will conclude with an interchange of ideas and a planning meeting for future goals.

Each day will begin with a Mass, celebrated in turn by Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney; Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Benedict XVI's secretary of state; and Archbishop López Trujillo.