Blog post: July 5, 2005. 11:30 PM, Valencia time.

I am writing from the Fifth World Meeting of Families, held this year in Valencia Spain. This periodic event is sponsored by the Pontifical Council on the Family, chaired by the formidable Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo. I have come at the invitation of His Eminence to give a presentation on The Family, the Social Doctrine of the Church and Social Questions. In addition to the Theological and Pastoral Congress, the Meeting also has a Congress for the Young and a Congress for the Elderly. There is also the Family Fare, which is a huge display of family-oriented ministries from all over the world. Since the meeting is in Spain, most of the displays are in Spanish.

The Meeting will end this weekend, with a visit from the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. The streets are festooned with banners and flags in anticipation of his arrival. The organizers anticipate over one million people for the Papal visit this Saturday and Sunday. Right now, there are nowhere near that many people. It is impossible for me to guess how many children, teens and grandparents are attending the sessions designed for them. I would estimate that about five thousand people attend the sessions at the Theological Congress. That is an impressive number, when you realize that this is a combination academic conference and showcase of pro-family organizations. The audience is composed of clergy, religious and earnest lay people.

I was asked to prepare a fifteen minute presentation. When I arrived here, however, I noticed that only 2 of the 4 people originally invited for my session had actually come. So I made a back-up plan to speak for 30 minutes, if necessary. I stayed up late last night, adding material on demography to my paper. My session was supposed to be today. But it was postponed. The session is to be chaired by Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, President of the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace. He will present the new Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. He was unable to come today, so the session is postponed until he can arrive. I am scheduled to speak, as well as a French Member of Parliament, Madame Christine Boutin.

It is now almost midnight Valencia time. Anything can happen tomorrow, so I must be prepared. I am going to bed. I will post more, when able.