Grandparents under the Spotlight at Rome Assembly Grandparents will be the focus of the coming 18th Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family, to be attended by Cardinal George Pell and grandparents-of-eight, Ron and Mavis Pirola of Sydney. The Assembly is to be held in Rome from April 2 to 5. Cardinal Pell is on the Presidential Committee and Ron and Mavis are foundation Members of the Council. The Council was established 26 years ago by Pope John Paul II after the Synod on the Family and there are 20 Member Couples from around the world. Each assembly deals with a different aspect of marriage and family life. This year the theme will be ‘˜Grandparents: their Witness and Presence in the Family’. Conclusions from the discussions will be presented to Pope Benedict XVI at an Audience at the end of the Assembly. ‘We are delighted by the chosen theme,’ said Ron and Mavis. ‘Grandparents are playing an increasingly important role in families. This partly reflects their increasing longevity and the pressures of time on young parents. ‘Apart from providing part-time direct care for grandchildren, grandparents often provide an important role model, especially in matters of faith and in witnessing to the feasibility of successful marriage. In an important minority of cases, they become prime carers of the youngest generation, most often as a result of the effects of drugs and alcohol on their own children. The quiet self-sacrifice of such grandparents is quite inspiring and occurs at all socio-economic levels.’ The coming VI World Meeting of Families to be held in Mexico City January 13-18, 2009, will also be discussed at the Assembly. Cardinal Rivera Carrera of Mexico City will attend and will update Members on preparations for the World meeting. As at similar previous Family Gatherings, it is anticipated that a delegation of Australian pilgrims will again attend.