The Church’s patrimony regarding families is enormous, says Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, and that is why the Church is a type of Noah’s ark to save families in a troubled world.
The president of the Pontifical Council for the Family made this reflection in an interview with ZENIT last week. He also offered advice on how to see the upcoming synod and the potential it has to help society and individual Christians.
ZENIT: What is the challenge for this new Synod on the Family, given the media context that tends to focus only on some subjects and not on others?
Archbishop Paglia: Thank goodness attention is being paid to it, which means that there is a need. And we see that the Pope does not avoid the questions and even less so the answers. It’s true that, according to the Latin slogan, sometimes we understand the questions as we want them to be; hence it is important in this case to continue answering, to continue repeating; “repetitia juvan.” Because I believe that the precious patrimony the Church has of spiritual, human, psychological and also juridical and political wisdom, in regard to the family, is enormous.
It would be really interesting to review the historical development of the Christian family that, despite all its limitations, has sprinkled societies in the different historical periods and in the different continents, with the extraordinary leaven that the evangelical family is. Sadly, ignorance is often at the root of so many misunderstandings and malicious affirmations.
ZENIT: And the Synod in this context?
Archbishop Paglia: In this connection the Synod convoked by the Pope, which enjoyed great consultation, is exactly for this: to help contemporary society to rediscover the fundamental value of the family, be it for individuals or for society. To consolidate the family means to establish the happiness of individuals and the sustainability of society. Therefore, there is a sort of parallel, which cannot be escaped: strong family, strong society; weak family, weakened society; neglected family, disintegration of society. This is what we need to understand. And this treasure of wisdom that the Church has, is not only for herself and not only for families themselves.
ZENIT: How can the Synod on the Family be represented?
Archbishop Paglia: If I were to describe the Synod with an image, I would say that the Church gathers all families, the good ones and those that have problems, all of them, to say to the whole world that the family is the way of happiness for contemporary society in the third millennium, because globalization has become almost solely that of the market and, let me to say it: loneliness is being globalized.
ZENIT: Why is there fear sometimes to address these topics, even among more “observant” persons?
Archbishop Paglia: I would say that it is necessary to have more serenity and more confidence. Let me to answer with a biblical image: the deluge. At that moment, God created Noah’s ark. And the Church is a bit like Noah’s ark. We are all there, all types and tendencies. What is important is to be in the ark, and not to make holes in it or to open the windows.
The Church is called with all her variety – all are necessary. We cannot say that only “the head is important.” A Church that is only head would be monstrous. The little finger is also important. The knee is important. One can live without a hand, but it’s not the ideal. I would like to say to all Christians and to men of good will: at this moment the Church, with Pope Francis, wants to be like Noah’s ark to save all of them, all families. This is a wide objective as wide as God’s heart. A large ark where there is room for all, with one conviction: while we are together we will be happy.[Translation by ZENIT]