Pastor Rick Warren of California's Saddleback Church was invited to speak during the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia last Friday, just a day before Pope Francis himself visited the city. During his speech, Warren discussed the importance of family, which he described as "a launch pad for ministry."
In his address, Warren underscored the warning issued by Pope Francis that the family is currently under attack, the National Catholic Register said.
"In today's society, materialism is idolised, immorality is glamourised, truth is minimised, sin is normalised, divorce is rationalised, and abortion is legalised," he said.
"In TV and movies, crime is legitimised, drug use is minimised, comedy is vulgarised, and sex is trivialised. In movies, the Bible is fictionalised, churches are satirised, God is marginalised, and Christians are demonised. The elderly are dehumanised, the sick are euthanised, the poor are victimised, the mentally ill are ostracised, immigrants are stigmatised, and children are tranquilised. In families around the world, our manners are uncivilised, speech is vulgarised, faith is secularised, and everything is commercialised."
In response to these distressing issues, Warren said Christians need to revitalise their worship, minimise their differences, mobilise their members, evangelise the lost, and re-energise their families.
He then shared a story about leprosy-afflicted people told by the late Catholic Bishop Fulton Sheen when he was only in his teens. When the bishop bent down to speak to a man with leprosy, his cross fell into the man's open wound. Sheen became so overwhelmed by love and the Holy Spirit that he took up the cross from the wound despite the health risks involved.
"I thought that was the finest definition of Christian living I'd ever heard," Warren said. "The whole business of life is to go out in the sores of life, where people are living and dying and suffering and pick up the cross. That is our ministry, and that is our service."
After Warren spoke, Cardinal Sean O'Malley took the microphone, saying it was very important to have Warren during the Catholic event because they need "unity" in today's world.
"This is a witness of unity that's important in today's world, as we strive to proclaim the Gospel of life: the need to protect every human being from the first moment of conception until natural death, to defend the family as a sanctuary of life, and family as a sacred calling described on the first pages of the Bible as a man who leaves his mother and father to be joined in one flesh to his wife," he said. "It's a great consolation to share this stage with a fellow Christian who is truly committed to preaching the Gospel. We are truly blessed by his presence and his friendship."
The World Meeting of Families, the world's largest Catholic gathering of families, is held every three years and is sponsored by the Holy See's Pontifical Council for the Family. This year's theme is called "Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive."