TRANSLATION of the NEWS published on September 9, 10, and 11


There were more than 700 people, among them married couples, families, leaders of Marriage Encounter in various capacities and from different Italian dioceses. The Leadership 2016, the traditional annual meeting at which the local groups of the ecclesial association Incontro Matrimoniale (declination of the International movement Wwme, WorldWide Marriage Encounter) are engaged over important themes, was started with the Eucharistic celebration in the Fraterna Domus in Sacrofano (Rome).

The proceedings were guided by the National Team (Imelda and Gianfelice Demarie from Turin with the priest Don Antonio Delmastro from Asti). Topic of this year’s are the three strong verbs of Mercy: AAA Ascoltare, Accompagnare, Accogliere (Listen, Accompany, Welcome). They are one way to respond to the Pope’s call of the jubilee year to be close to those in need, especially in the complex and varied world of the family. “We really like his invitation to get off the couch and not be self-referential,” began the IM National Team.

And there are great expectations for the participation in the Jubilee audience with Francis to which tomorrow all the community of WWME will participate. In these hours they are departing from all over Italy, and beyond. In fact they will be more than four thousands in St. Peter’s Square, with delegations coming from the United States, Africa and Asia.

The European leaders of Marriage Encounter, the Portuguese spouses Luisa and Antonio Carvalho. are also present from the start of the proceedings. The Leadership in Sacrofano – which also involved a large group of teenagers and young children of the IM leaders, with animators who will offer a similar process of reflection apt to them – will conclude on Sunday.

Marriage Encounter, active in Italy since 1978, has so far involved over 35 thousand people in its original Weekend for married couples, families, engaged and young (Choice).


7.00 am The delegations and the Marriage Encounter groups (Wwme) who at 10 will take part in the Jubilee audience with Pope Francis, begin to show up in St. Peter’s Square. There will be over four thousand people coming from all Italian dioceses, from Europe, the USA, Africa and Asia. The inspection gates open at 7.30. Great excitement and anticipation among the many young and less young families flocking to the Vatican.

8.30 am We are entering and taking place in St. Peter’s Square. Some numbers: participants to the WWME Jubilee audience are over four thousand, coming mostly from Italy, 334 from Piedmont, 373 from Lombardy, 527 from the Northeast, 184 from the Centre, 1153 from the South and the Islands. From abroad: Delegations from Spain and France, Croatia (70). There are groups coming from Togo, Malawi, Canada, USA and Bangladesh. The 700 participants to the Leadership in Sacrofano arrived on twenty buses.

9:50 am Just a few minutes to the arrival of Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square. The European WWME responsible couple, the Portuguese Antonio and Luisa Carvalho say:

We are embarrassed and excited: we will be able to greet the Pope up close. It is the first time that such a thing happens! What shall we say? Fortunately he is a homely man and speaks our language. Thanks IM you have done us a great gift!.

10.00 am The Pope has arrived. After an extensive tour of St. Peter’s Square to greet the thousands of people present at the Jubilee audience (WWME is at the centre of the square), Pope Francis has now blessed the crowd. A passage from the First Letter of Peter is read in several languages. After Pope Bergoglio will hold his reflection.

10:25 am How many become slaves in the name of freedom – is the reflection of Pope Francis (full text). We need God to save us. And God has a great fondness for the small and the weak. The more we need the more his gaze becomes merciful. He knows our weaknesses.

One of Peter’s sentences has particularly impressed Pope Bergoglio “With the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is great redemption“: he let the crowd repeat this twice.

Now there will be greetings to the delegations.

11 am In the universality of multiple languages greetings (from Arabic to French, Portuguese to German, English to Spanish, from Polish to Czech and Romanian), Pope Francis was able to exchange this morning in St. Peter’s Square affectionate words also with the international community to WWME. He welcomed the Italian-speaking pilgrims, including those from some Italian dioceses and the Catholic Action boys, and to ME in particular he said: “I thank you for all the good you do to help families, go forward!“.

To the volunteers of the Protezione Civile (Civil Protection) – who were to be present – a particular intention for the engagement in areas of central Italy hit by the earthquake of August 24. At the end the Our Father in Latin and the final blessing.

2:30 pm In St. Peter’s Basilica is about to begin the solemn Eucharistic celebration for Marriage Encounter presided by monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, who was appointed less than a month ago by Pope Francesco as new President of the Pontifical Academy for Life and Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage. There are more than four thousand people from different continents guided by the world leaders of WWME, spouses Daniel and Shelley Ee from Singapore and fr. Nathaniel “Boy” Gomez of the Philippines.

3:30 pm “Make the world family like”. This is the challenge of the evangelization and of the pastoral care of the family for the coming years. Monsignor Paglia has set his homily on the theme of the prodigal son, as in the Gospel of Luke. Which is – recalled the bishop Paglia – “to focus on the merciful love of the Father, which builds and can be patient.” That’s the best way to get rid of the golden calf, an idol mentioned in the book of Exodus, that today “is the cult of the ego.”

Our need today is that “families get out of their homes with the attitude of our Father”. Pope Francesco asks this to the Church, this is also the task of Incontro Matrimoniale and of WWME. “This Church-Family coming out – has spurred Monsignor Paglia – can be the ferment of solidarity and mercy in a world that is at war and has lost the joy of living together. There is loneliness, there is unhappiness. There is the need “to make the world family”.


Marriage Encounter, or a triple A rating. Listen, accompany, welcome(Ascoltare-Accompagnare-Accogliere): like Jesus with the disciples of Emmaus (Lk 24,13-35). This is the program that the ecclesial association has adopted, in this pastoral year, for the family: for all families, especially those who are struggling the most. In the sign of mercy and of Amoris Laetitia, both dear to Pope Francis, a renewed effort to help the relationship between the bride and groom, engaged couples, young people, consecrated persons and their communities …

The more than 700 participants from all over Italy at the leadership of Sacrofano (Rome), signed a confidence pact (this is the “triple A” remembered for IM also by the Catholic newspaper Avvenire) for a renewed leap in the various territories, so to be “salt and leaven” in all dioceses and communities. The Italian national team – spouses Imelda and Gianfelice Demarie from Piedmont with the priest Don Antonio Delmastro from Asti – reminded “the central role” that the issues of Amoris Laetitia plays throughout the Marriage Encounter community.

The meeting with the Pope during the Jubilee audience on Saturday, September 10, has traced the route: “the smallest and weakest” those are the men and women on which bend down with full mercy, to serve them and to help them.


The European WWME Team, Luisa and Antonio Carvalho from Portugal, attended to all sessions, also to those divided into seminars of deepening. “We feel an intense gratitude for your welcome and for the friendship that we breathed in an intense climate of community – they said with emotion – we have had a firsthand experience that it is possible to live in happiness and in relation. This is the charisma of ME. The worst evil that can happen today is loneliness, as Monsignor Paglia recalled yesterday in St. Peter. With our renewed Weekend and the launch of the WE for consecrated people we have two important tools to be even more effective, in the belief that we can change the world with our dream. The moments spent with Pope Francis, that we were able to greet in St. Peter’s Square, will remain forever in our hearts. “


The International Ecclesial Team formed by the spouses Daniel and Shelley (Singapore) and fr. Nathaniel “Boy” Gomez (Philippines) was also present at the Leadership: “Twenty months ago it was just a dream to think we can organize a worldwide pilgrimage to the Pope – that’s their words – thanks to the Demarie-Delmastro Team and their passion and tenacity this has happened. The jubilee event with the Pope will remain a point of no return that will be remembered.” Daniel and Shelley and fr. Gomez, in tune with the “triple A”, have left three directions to IM: “Our first task is to help couples experience God’s love with their heart – these are the demands of the World Team – we are ministers who share their lives between spouses and God and testify that we can collaborate with the action of God even with our imperfections. We are called to share joys, wounds and hopes as couples and as consecrated. The second task? We cannot help others if we do not engage in formation and prayer. We should not be ministers who “do”, but that “are.” With this perspective, the difficulties can be overcome. This formation and prayer must be experienced at every level of the community. So we will burn with passion and not exhaust ourselves. “

The third key task is the renewal: that is the ability to improve at personal, community and leadership level. “We must involve more and more and young people so that they continue our work – urge Daniel and Shelley and fr. Nathaniel – so to improve dialogue between new and old generations. We need new blood for the renewal. If we do not change ourselves, we are destined to disappear.” For this we need a “positive and inclusive openness”, concluded the World Team: “So we will be able to listen to different and divergent voices and listen to the signs of the times. Let us go and be missionaries of joy.

As Pope Francis says, the family is not a problem but an opportunity “.


The final presentation of a WE thought for Protestant spouses, as is already present for years in the United States, was important and significant in an ecumenical key. Roberto and Anna Iannò, married for 26 years, Seventh-day Adventists, have lived the WE with joy and transport (in Ferrara and then in Ragusa). After some time, they have lived it again with the American Adventists. Finally, a working group has been created in Italy with a pool of Protestant couples and followed by the ex national Team Sante and Antoinetta Mondardini. So in April 2017, in Italy, we will be able to donate the first Protestant WE in our country.


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

The passage we heard tells us about the mercy of God which is realized in the Redemption, that is in the salvation that was given to us with the blood of His Son Jesus (cf. 1 Pt 1.18 to 21). The word “redemption” is seldom used, yet it is important because it indicates the most radical liberation that God could perform for us, for all the humanity and the entire creation. It seems that today’s man no longer loves to think of being liberated and saved by God’s intervention; man today is under the illusion that their liberty is a force to get everything. He also boasts of this. But in reality this does not happens. How many illusions are sold under the pretext of freedom and how many new forms of slavery are created to this day in the name of a false freedom! Many, many slaves: “I do this because I want to do it, I take drugs because I like it, I’m free, I do otherwise.” They are slaves! They become slaves in the name of freedom. We all have seen such people eventually end up on the ground. We need God to deliver us from all forms of indifference, selfishness and self-sufficiency.

The words of the Apostle Peter very well express the sense of the new style of life to which we are called. By becoming one of us, the Lord Jesus not only has taken our human condition, but has also raised us to the possibility of being sons of God. By his death and resurrection Jesus Christ, the Lamb without blemish, has conquered death and sin to free us from their domain. He is the Lamb who was sacrificed for us, so that we might receive a new life of forgiveness, love and joy. Beautiful are these three words: forgiveness, love and joy. All that He has haired has also been redeemed, liberated and saved. Sure, it’s true that life puts us to trial and sometimes we suffer for that. However, in this situation we are invited to turn our eye on the crucified Jesus who suffers for us and with us, as certain proof that God does not abandon us. Never forget, however, that in distress or persecution, as in daily pain, we are always freed by the hand of our merciful God who raises us to himself and leads us to a new life.

God’s love is boundless: we ever discover new signs indicating His attention towards us and especially His willingness to reach and go before us. Our whole life, though marked by the fragility of sin, is placed under the gaze of God who loves us. Many pages of the Holy Scripture tell us about the presence, closeness and tenderness of God for all people, especially for the cildren, the poor and the afflicted! God has a great tenderness, a great love for children, for the weak, for those discarded by society. The more we are in need, the more his gaze on us is full of mercy. He feels a pitiful compassion towards us because he knows our weaknesses. He knows our sins and forgives us; always forgives! It is so good, so good is our Father.

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us open ourselves to Him, let us receive His grace! Because, as the Psalm says, “with the Lord there is mercy, / and great is the redemption with Him” (130.7).


I greet the Missionary Catechists of Jesus the Redeemer, the Association of Marriage Encounter and I thank you for all the good that you do to help families! Go forward!

I also greet the members of Federpesca. Finally, I urge young people, the sick and the newlyweds to invoke with particular intensity the Names of Jesus and Mary so that they will teach us to love with full dedication God and our neighbour.