Family Members Must Talk to One Another More, Says Pope

Address to Pontifical Council

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 20, 2002 ( One of the most-needed apostolates today is that which helps families in difficulty, especially by fostering their spiritual lives and getting members to talk to one another, says John Paul II.

The Pope made this appeal Friday when he met with the participants of the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family, presided over by Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo. The assembly met Oct. 17-19 and focused on the topic «Family Pastoral Care and Couples in Difficulty.»

«In an increasingly secularized world, it is ever more important that the believing family acquire a consciousness of its own vocation and mission,» the Holy Father said.

«In every context and circumstance, the point of departure for this consists in safeguarding and intensifying prayer, an incessant prayer to the Lord to increase one’s faith and make it more vigorous,» he added.

«As I wrote in the apostolic letter ‘Rosarium Virginis Mariae,’ published on Wednesday at the beginning of the 25th year of this pontificate: ‘The family that prays together, stays together,'» the Pope noted.

«It is true that, when one lives through particular moments, science can offer good help, but nothing can replace an ardent, personal and confident faith that is open to the Lord,» John Paul II stressed.

«Prayer, frequent recourse to the sacrament of reconciliation, to spiritual direction, must never be abandoned, replacing them with other techniques of human and psychological support,» the Holy Father warned.

He continued: «Family help to couples, especially young ones, by families who are spiritually and morally solid» has become one of the most important apostolates «at this historic time.»

This apostolate must pay special attention to the fostering of dialogue, the Pope continued.

«Often, there is no time to live and talk within the family,» he said. «Many times parents do not feel prepared and they are even afraid to assume, as is their duty, the task of the integral education of their children.

«It might be that the latter, precisely because of the lack of dialogue, feel serious obstacles when it comes to seeing in their parents authentic models to imitate and look elsewhere for models and lifestyles, which are often false and harmful to the dignity of man and to authentic love.»

The Holy Father added: «The trivialization of sex, in a society saturated with eroticism, and the lack of reference to ethical principles, can ruin the life of children, adolescents and youth, impeding them from being formed in a responsible, mature love and in the harmonious development of their personality.»

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