The reality at the synod is very different than what one might hear on the news, at least according to five bishop and archbishop delegates interviewed last week by ZENIT.
“Up to now we have been able to discuss at the Synod topics of wide breadth. We have seen that we are united in following the indications of the Doctrine and we nourish confidence and hope in saving marriage, just as our faithful request.”
These are the words of Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki of Lviv of the Latins, President of the Ukrainian Episcopal Conference.
“In face of so many situations of division, we are discussing how to save the unity of the family. This is not a concern only for us,” he added, “but one that touches the whole world.”
Archbishop Mokrzycki explained: “the Bishops from the different continents have talked about so many good experiences, and have suggested proposals on how to assist and support the family to defend it in face of the many problems that threaten its unity.”
According to the archbishop, the most evident problem is separation and divorce, both on the increase. He reflected that even if it were possible to give Communion to the divorced, this wouldn’t solve any problem. In fact, the great majority of divorced or separated persons don’t frequent the Church. The real point is to put more attention on the preparation of young people for marriage.
“Every separation generates sufferings and those who endure most are the children. While the adults systemize their life with new partners, the children suffer to relate with more mothers and more fathers,” lamented the archbishop.
Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusisewicz of Minsk-Mohilev, President of the Byelorussian Episcopal Conference, explained that the greatest family problem afflicting his country are divorce and abortion, both practiced in great numbers.
The Catholic Church, together with the Orthodox Church and the other Christian communities, requested permission from the government to carry out a service of consultation and assistance in clinics where abortions are practiced. The government granted the permission, thus consultancies have been created and very many children have been saved.
“An initiative that gives hope, because women who were able to meet a Catholic or Orthodox priest now tell others how they were convinced not to follow the path of interruption of their pregnancy. This confirms that there is another possibility; there is another way, abortion can be avoided,” said Archbishop Kondrusiewicz.
The Archbishop of Minsk-Mohilev then spoke of the problem of divorces that in Byelorussia affect almost 50% of marriages.
“I would say that it is a legacy of the Soviet period. A way of doing things that seems to have no limits. Together with the Orthodox Church we are doing everything possible to teach people how important it is to keep the family united, which is the foundation of a civil society,” he said.
“The greatest problem we have is that in the man-woman relation there is a utilitarian approach, one perceives the other as object of consumption and not as a person through whom one can attain fulfilment,” explained Archbishop Zbignevs Stankevics of Riga, Latvia.
“Thus ever more persons live together without getting married, not even civilly, which means that they don’t make a serious and definitive commitment. Few children are born, and they don’t have a united family. They are also wounded and all this leads to the disintegration of society,” he added.
For Archbishop Stankevics it is necessary to recall that “the family is a vocation indicated by God to attain fulfilment in one’s life and to be happy. The family is a great good to proclaim and it is the Synod’s task to give and spread this message.”
For Archbishop Tomasz Peta, Metropolitan Archbishop of Astana, the problem of families in Kazakhstan is similar to that of other countries, particularly those of Eastern Europe.
However, rather than speaking of problems, the Metropolitan wished to give good news. The first is that a year ago the President announced a new celebration in Kazakhstan: “the Day for the Family.”
The second item of good news is that “they have tried to spread and impose the gender ideology in Kazakhstan, but people rebelled and this ideology was rejected.”
The Polish-born missionary bishop of Oruro, Krzysztof Janusz Bialasik Wawrowska, S.V.D., explained that in Bolivia the main problem facing families is poverty.
The precarious and bad economic conditions split families; mother and father go in search of work to different countries. In these situations the children suffer very much the lack of a united family. Many divorces happen because of the separation of spouses who live far away, in different areas.
“Another problem is the gender ideology that promotes easy customs, confusion of sexual identity, abortion and euthanasia,” specified Bishop Bialasik Wawrowska.
A negative and nihilist ideology that is creating confusion and corruption in universities, in places frequented by young people, thus phenomenons grow such as alcoholism and drug consumption.
“We wonder why this ideology, which is opposed to life, is supported by international agencies and organizations. Instead the family should be supported as the central nucleus of every civilization. That is why the Church speaks of the family as the ‘sanctuary of society,’” concluded the Bishop of Oruro.