A veritable who’s who of the global pro-family movement and other religious leaders gathered in Paul VI Hall inside the Vatican this morning for what will be three days of talks from faith and public policy leaders that will result in a common statement supporting man-woman marriage.
Organized by various offices of the Vatican including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the day began with an address by Pope Francis who told the 300 invited guests, “In our times, the family is in crisis. We live in the time of the temporary.”
He called it a time of “revolution in manners and morals that often flies the ‘flag of freedom’” but that has instead brought “devastation, especially among the poorest and most vulnerable, children, women and the elderly.”
Francis then said, “Every child has the right to grow up in a family with a father and mother.”
Francis also announced for the first time that he would attend the next World Meeting of Families to take place next year in Philadelphia. This would be his first visit to the United States.
Among those gathered in Rome this week were Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, Professor Robert George of Princeton, one of the primary organizers of the event, Professor Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard Law School, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, Francisco Tatad, former Majority Leader of the Philippine Senate, Professor Carter Snead of Notre Dame Law School, Father Thomas Bohlin, prelate of Opus Dei in America, Dr. Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention, John Garvey, president of the Catholic University of America, and former US Attorney General Ed Meese.
Not just a Catholic or Christian event, the conference includes a wide range of faiths. Other speakers throughout the week include Dr. Wael Farouq, Presient of the Tawasul Cultural Center in Cairo, Dr. Harshad Sanghrajka of the Institute of Jainology, Ven. Nisso Takeuchi, President Myokenkaku-ji Temple, and Manmohan Singh of the World Sikh Council.
Some have wondered if the meeting was organized as a response to the just-concluded Extraordinary Synod on the Family that roiled the Catholic world and gave hope to those on the political left that Catholic teaching on marriage may change. In fact, the conference had been planned for many months prior to the Synod and was organized in light of increasing support for the redefinition of marriage.