Archbishop Michael Jackson addresses World Meeting of Families in Dublin


At the World Meeting of Families in Dublin.

The Archbishop of Dublin and Glendalough, the Most Revd Dr. Michael Jackson took part in the first day of the Pastoral Congress of the World Meeting of Families in the RDS on Wednesday, in advance of Pope Francis's visit.

He contributed to a panel discussion which also included Archpriest Mikhail Nasonov, Rector of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchal Monastery of the Church of Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, Dublin and Rabbi Zalman Lent, Chief Rabbi, Dublin Hebrew Congregation and Chabad-Lubavitch of Ireland.

The subject for discussion was ‘In the Light of the World: Celebrating Families in the Judeo-Christian Tradition’ and the session was moderated by H.E. Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna, Austria.

In his address, Archbishop Jackson said that in both the Old and New Testaments there was a sense of families both in transition and in settlement. He looked at components of family understanding to present an idea of what a family in the Judeao-Christian tradition might be.

He suggested that there were various portrayals of the family in the Bible, both positive and negative. Because of our respect for Holy Scripture we presumed that there will be a good outcome in all things -a fulfillment of the hope and expectation that God would make it happen and would look after his people, he said. However, he added that there was a need to recognise that there was a darker side to family life.

“Scriptural family life is more complex than the gloss we have all too readily put on it,” he stated.
“To any literal reading of the texts we need to add St Augustine’s principle of bene ‘uti malo’/making good use of the bad in order to understand the workings of God, however angrily it tests our faith, however reluctant we are to accept the outcomes. Scriptural family is no exception.”
The family has always been a focus of change as well as being a focus of continuity. This is its double strength.

The Archbishop also looked at the wider features of family as an emerging picture of the church and as something eschatological and as an intimation of the Kingdom of God. He pointed to Mark 3.31-35 when Jesus tells his family that everyone in a house where he is teaching is his family, the formation of a new family at the foot of the cross when Jesus hands the care of his mother to John and of John to his mother (St John 19.26) and to Pentecost and the formation of the church as a much bigger family (Acts 2). He continued by examining the ideas of incarnation and abode, the concept of marriage as being missional and the family as a portal of witness.

He concluded with a call for patience and forgiveness within families and the prayer that the family be a place of safety for all.

“The family has always been a focus of change as well as being a focus of continuity. This is its double strength. Some families are conservative and some families are radical. All of us who live in families are amateurs at constructing and enhancing family life. For this reason, forebearance and forgiveness are to be to the fore. In the cruel and complex globalized world in which we live, one in which the human person is commodified by advertizing or by trafficking, by the quest for celebrity status or by the exploitation of corruption and injustice, my prayer would be that first and last, last and first, the family be a crucible of safety across generations and continents,” he said.

There was also a significant event at the Church of Ireland's St. Maeldoid's Parish Church, Castleblayney, in Clogher Diocese which has hosted the congregration from St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church for the past year while it was being refurbished.

The Opening Liturgy in Castleblayney to mark The Opening Ceremony for World Meeting of Families 2018 which will culminate with the closing Papal Mass on Sunday 26th August with Pope Francis heard the bells of both St Maeldoid's Church and the newly restored St Mary's Church ring out to mark the event.

The first part of the liturgy was held in St Maeldoid's Church and then a huge procession left St. Maeldoid's through the town to the newly restored St Mary's Church.

The Rector of St.Maeldoid's, Revd Neal Phair and Parish Priest of St Mary's, Fr Pat McHugh, took part along with parishioners from both churches as well as several other serving Priests from Clogher Diocese and their parishioners.