May 28, 2012

VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict will meet with families at a time when the institution of the family is under threat and many are still struggling with a worldwide economic crisis.

As a sign of his concern for bolstering the family based on the lifelong union between a man and a woman, the pope will travel to Milan to meet with those at the May 30-June 3 World Meeting of Families.

"It's as if the pope wants to say 'I am giving the maximum importance to what you families live out and I want to be near you; I believe in what you are experiencing and want to renew this hope,'" said Bishop Jean Laffitte, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

The meetings are sponsored by the Vatican as a way for families to meet, discuss critical issues and grow in the faith.

The pope has repeatedly called on governments to respect the traditional definition of marriage and urged the Church to promote the natural order in the family.

Marriage between a man and a woman "is not a simple social convention," he told ambassadors to the Vatican this year.

"Policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself," he said.