Facing the Family in the 3rd Millennium

Cardinal Ouellet Looks at Task Set Out for Domestic Churches

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By Carmen Elena Villa
ROME, MARCH 19, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The first decade of the 21st century has been characterized by a «confusion of values and loss of references,» according to the archbishop of Quebec. And, he laments, this is greatly affecting families.

Cardinal Marc Ouellet offered this estimation when he addressed the topic «The Task of the Family in the Third Millennium» at a two-day conference last week held at the Pontifical Lateran University’s John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family.

«Humanity is living today a crisis without precedents,» Cardinal Ouellet contended, pointing to elements such as the crisis of resources, the financial collapse, international terrorism and moral relativism. This also affects the crisis of faith, he said: «In the last century it modified the image that man had of himself.»
The present crisis, the primate of Canada proposed, «is not only moral and spiritual, but above all anthropological, and calls humanity into question.»
Heart of the Church
Recalling the Second Vatican Council and particularly the emphasis on family in «Gaudium et Spes,» the cardinal reiterated the importance of the family as a domestic Church, capable of living «according to the grace of the Trinitarian likeness.»

He said it it necessary «to bring back the vision of the family to the heart of the Church.»

Cardinal Ouellet stressed how Pope John Paul II’s 1981 apostolic exhortation «Familiaris Consortio» was a fruit of reflection at Vatican II on the vocation and role of the family, above all on the need to go deeper into the subject of man and woman as beings created in the image and likeness of God.
He also recalled the vocation of the family to be a domestic Church, on the basis of St. John Chrysostom’s phrase, «Make your home a church.» He underlined that in this connection, today there is much to discover, given that the family «is not only an image of the Church, but also an ecclesial reality.»
In marriage, the cardinal explained, «the unity of the ‘we’ [is verified], not in a symbolic but in a real way,» and the spouses «give themselves to one another and receive Christ also in the everyday,» resulting in «a charism of unity, fidelity and fecundity.»
«Love is the way of human perfection in Christ,» the Quebec cardinal said, noting how conjugal love is the union of eros and agape. «A fully human love, sensitive, spiritual, faithful, exclusive until death, which is not exhausted and which continues to awaken new lives.» A love that, in the likeness of the Trinity, «entails in itself an openness to the Son and still more profoundly: the Son and the Spirit that give themselves to the spouses as fruit of love,» a communion that «includes not only openness to the Spirit and to the Son, but also to society.»
Thus, Cardinal Ouellet proposed, the family «participates in the salvific mission of the Church,» and both the spouses and children become «focuses of interpersonal communion indwelled by Christ and a school of liberty,» able to «respond to the confusion of values in the culture of death and the culture of possession and of the ephemeral.»

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