British Parishes Urged to Support Family Life More

Survey Finds Little Talk of God’s Presence in the Home

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LONDON, JULY 19, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The first part of a three-year plan to make parishes more welcoming and supportive of family life has been published by the bishops’ conference of England and Wales.

«Listening 2004,» a survey of Church life conducted among 15,000 families in their parishes and homes, explored a number of areas, including values, balancing domestic and work commitments, and communication.

Bishops hope that the report, «Not Easy But Full of Meaning,» will help initiate a better understanding of the spiritual dimension of family and married life, and the role of parents and grandparents in handing on the Catholic faith.

«Despite the fact that families overwhelmingly described their biggest blessing as their time spent together, hardly anyone talked about God’s presence in that togetherness,» commented Bishop John Hine.

«Although Christianity has a long tradition of love and care for the poor, when families spoke about the spirituality of the home, we heard virtually nothing about the holiness of loving and caring for one another,» he added. «Perhaps we as Church should address this together.»

Not united

Elizabeth Davies, an officer of the Marriage & Family Life Project, commented: «For many years Catholics have had an image of the family that prays together stays together.

«Whilst we heard a lot about the importance of prayer in sustaining individual family members through difficult times, we discovered that for very many Catholic families faith is not an area in which they are united.»

Davies added: «Contrast this however with the way families live out the Gospel in their everyday lives and how they appreciate the values that the Church stands for. It might be more accurate now to say that love of God and love for one another is what keeps families together.»

The report’s findings note that families are under a lot of pressure and find it harder to spend time together.

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