The Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Theological Institute for the Sciences of Marriage and the Family calls for a relaunch of family ministry with the involvement of the laity. The prelate stresses that the strength of family ties is related to the strength of the social fabric: "Reflecting on the family means talking about the very destiny of humanity".
"Giving impetus to family ministry, rediscovering the family as a resource for the whole of society and reflecting on the sterility of generation'. These are the many intentions that Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, Grand Chancellor of the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for the Sciences of Marriage and the Family, indicates in view of the opening of the Year dedicated to "Amoris laetitia Family", announced on the last Sunday of December, at the Angelus, by Pope Francis.
Pastoral initiatives around the world
The special year, inspired by the Apostolic Exhortation and the love embodied by the Holy Family, will begin on 19 March next, five years after the publication of the post-synodal Document, and will end on 26 June 2022 on the occasion of the Tenth World Meeting of Families. The Dicastery for the Laity and the Family will offer training tools to dioceses, parishes, universities, ecclesial communities and family associations. International academic symposia will also be organised, and a website dedicated to the year is already online, in several languages. In the brochure drawn up by the Vatican Dicastery, numerous objectives are mentioned, including making "families the protagonists of family ministry" and young people "aware of the importance of formation in the truth of love and the gift of self".
The lesson of the pandemic
This reflection, which will involve all Catholic communities around the world, comes at the end of a global pandemic that has highlighted the irreplaceable role of the family institution in welcoming, caring for and comforting all people. A lesson that Monsignor Vicenzo Paglia himself urges us to grasp:
Why did you want to dedicate the year that will mark the end of the pandemic to the family?
A. - The year that the Pope wants to dedicate to the family coincides with the hope of the end of the pandemic with the arrival of the vaccine. In fact, during the pandemic, the family, with all its limitations, proved to be the most solid reality: it managed to comfort and accompany many in such a dramatic situation. In this sense there is a lesson to be learned. The drama of the pandemic has taught us that no one saves themselves and that we all need each other, starting with the family. This experience, in all its drama, is a great lesson that helps us to better understand the preciousness of the family both for the Church and for society.
The reflection on the family will start from the Exhortation Amoris laetitia. What are the fruits of this document?
A. - I believe that in this year we are called to go a little deeper into the themes proposed by the Apostolic Exhortation. The Pontifical Institute John Paul II intends to promote a survey to collect what has been achieved in the local Churches since Amoris laetitia. In these five years there have been many initiatives in the local Churches that have re-proposed the family as a place of Christian life. But it is not enough to see what has been done. It is essential to give a much stronger impetus to the whole of family ministry, understood as a place that must embrace all pastoral work. In short, what is required is that all pastoral work should become 'family'. When the Church speaks of the family, it speaks of itself.
The Pope recalled that the Son of God wanted to need, like all children, the warmth of a family and that the family of Nazareth is a model for all the families of the world. Does the evangelical ideal of the Holy Family remain a fundamental framework for all Christians?
A. - The Pope in Amoris laetitia emphasises the ideal of the family desired by God from the beginning of creation. The central theme is the covenant between man and woman. Man and woman together - both in the family and in the whole of society and the Church - are called both to the care of creation and to the responsibility of generations. Unfortunately, this perspective needs greater reflection on both the theological and pastoral levels. In short: there is a need for a 'theology of the family'. The John Paul II Institute has launched this theological perspective, which calls for the development of a reflection on the multiple articulations of family ties, from those of paternity, maternity, fraternity, social relations, mutual responsibilities and so on. In short, this is a reflection on both the theological and human sciences, without forgetting, of course, the moral plane.
The family, with its educational primacy, is both a fundamental place for the transmission of faith and a training ground for coexistence, encounters and the dissemination of positive stimuli. In short, it is the driving force of every society that contributes to the common good?
R. - Absolutely so. The Church, with its reflection and action in the family sphere, renders an invaluable service to society. Contemporary culture is also wandering in uncertainty: the weakening of the family is related to the weakening of society. A de-familiarised society leads to the breakdown of that 'we' which is the basis of every society. It is no coincidence that today we speak of the "collapse of the we", which begins in the family and spreads to the nation and the family of nations. Today we hear talk of the evaporation of the father, of the loosening of ties, and this is linked to the cultural breakdown of the family as an architecture of ties. So this is an important year to encourage believers and non-believers alike to rediscover the family as a unique and extraordinary resource for society as such.
The Pope has often denounced the ideological colonisation that affects the family: will this year of reflection therefore serve to reinforce the role and importance of the family on a cultural level?
A. - That is why I stressed how the weakness of ties leads to the weakening of 'us'. It is no coincidence that the Pope uses the term 'brother' to indicate the universal bond between all; it is a term typically linked to the family perspective. It is impossible to understand the encyclical "All brothers" without a profound vision of the family dimension that the term implies. In this sense, I believe that reflecting on the family means talking about the very destiny of humanity. Even in the most secular language we speak of a family of peoples.
What initiatives are planned in the dioceses and parishes? Will believers be called to be witnesses of family love?
A. - The initiatives are manifold and include - with the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life - not only a direct commitment to explain some chapters of the Document, but the involvement of all the local Churches to reflect on the various chapters of the Exhortation. Unfortunately, attention was only focused on chapter eight concerning the question of communion for remarried and divorced people, which is only one aspect of the problems. Here the questions to ponder are: why do young people marry so little? Why are families closed in on themselves? Why is there a sterility of generation, not only in generating children but also in generating hope, culture and generosity? And then there is the whole issue of the difficulty of dialogue between generations and the issue of the elderly. All these frontiers are urged to be crossed by the indications that the dicastery has given and that every local Church must develop with men and women of good will.
Source: Vatican News