During the ninth general Congregation, 15 interventions were heard (6 from couples and 9 from single Auditors), almost all laypersons engaged in the field of family pastoral care, bioethics and human ecology. From various countries throughout the world and representing almost all the continents, the Auditors brought to the Assembly their living testimony of family apostolate lived in everyday life.
Firstly, mention was made of the difficulties experienced by families living in the Middle East, especially in Iraq: these numerous conflicts have serious repercussions on families, divided by the death of their members, forced to migrate in search of a safe place to live, deprived of a future for the young who are removed from schools or for the elderly who are abandoned to their own devices. The unity of the Christian family in the Middle East is profoundly disrupted, with consequences also for the social and national unity of the countries in the region. Faced with such dramatic situations, the Church truly represents a safe haven, a “family of families” that offers comfort and hope. It is also necessary to prepare married couples to be “mediators” of peace and reconciliation.
Another point highlighted by the Auditors was the need for the Church to listen more to laypeople in the search for solutions to the problems of families, especially in relation to the sphere of intimacy in the life of couples. For this reason it is important for there to be synergy between the academic world and the pastoral world, so as to form not “technicians” but rather pastoral workers who know and understand how to promote the themes of family and life through a solid Catholic overall anthropological vision.
Furthermore, the Auditors remarked on the need for greater dialogue between Church and State, also through the efforts of lay faithful who, without motivations of personal ambition, know how to promote the protection of the rights of the family and the defence of life, working for a State with a human face. The laity, it was remarked, must be active and competent in the public defence of the values of life and the family.
The interventions focused on the need to adequately and permanently prepare priests in relation to themes regarding the family, especially in relation to openness to life, so that they are able to explain and speak naturally and clearly about conjugal love. It was also noted that if natural family planning is explained in depth, highlighting its positive worth, it can strengthen the life of the couple. In this respect, it was reiterated that homilies, if well prepared, may ensure that the faithful participate more fully in the celebration of Mass.
A further starting point for reflection shed light on the importance of testimony: the young do not need theory, it was said, but they clearly understand the centrality of the family if it is demonstrated by families themselves, credible witnesses and subjects of evangelisation. For this, the Assembly reflected on the need for couples to be accompanied by adequate pastoral care after marriage as well as before.
The Auditors then gave voice to the suffering of those who lose a family member: widows and widowers, orphans, or parents who lose a child. For these people, the accompaniment of the Church is fundamental, through support groups and sharing, so that they do not become lost in the profound anguish of loss, and the fear of a “desert” of emotions, but remain firm in their faith.
The Synod Fathers went on to speak about the importance of “human ecology”, which helps to combat the negative affects of economic globalisation, which often proposes models contrary to Catholic doctrine. They expressed their firm condemnation of all forms of domestic violence, especially in relation to women, showing that this is often perpetrated by young people.
Finally, the need for communication within families was emphasised, as sharing between couples, participation of both parents in the education of children, and above all prayer within domestic walls, all contribute to strengthening the family unit.[03033-02.01] [Original text: Italian – working translation] [Courtesy of Vatican]