Synod: Listening to hear those living difficult marital situations who “are part of the Church”
“The Church is not a customs office, but a family home and so must offer a patient accompaniment to all people, even to those who find themselves in difficult pastoral situations”. “There are many who have trouble grasping the distinction between the natural methods of regulating fertility and contraception.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Improving awareness of the anthropological vision of the Church’s openness to life and helping those who are going through difficult marital situations that “part of the Church” were the central themes of the Seventh General Congregation of the Extraordinary Synod on the family, held this morning in the Vatican, in the presence of Pope Francis.
Difficult marital situations dominated interventions yesterday afternoon and today, according to the Vatican press office, while reaffirming “the indissoluble nature of marriage, without compromise, based on the fact that the sacramental bond is an objective reality, the work of Christ in the Church. Such a value must be defended and cared for through adequate pre-matrimonial catechesis, so that engaged couples are fully aware of the sacramental character of the bond and its vocational nature. Pastoral accompaniment for couples following marriage would also be useful”.
At the same time, it was said that it is necessary to look at individual cases and real-life situations, even those involving great suffering, distinguishing for example between those who abandon their spouse and those who are abandoned. The problem exists – this was repeated several times in the Assembly – and the Church does not neglect it. Pastoral care must not be exclusive, of an “all or nothing” type but must instead be merciful, as the mystery of the Church is a mystery of consolation. It was in any case recalled that for divorced and remarried persons, the fact of not having access to the Eucharist does not mean that they are not members of the ecclesial community; on the contrary, it is to be taken into consideration that there exist various responsibilities that may be exercised. Furthermore, the need to simplify and speed up the procedures for the declaration of marriage nullity was underlined.
” With regard to cohabitation in certain regions, it was shown that this is often due to economic and social factors and not a form of refusal of the teachings of the Church. Often, moreover, these and other types of de facto unions are lived while conserving the wish for a Christian life, and therefore require suitable pastoral care. Similarly, while emphasising the impossibility of recognising same sex marriage, the need for a respectful and non-discriminatory approach with regard to homosexuals was in any case underlined”.
The second part of the meeting this morning was devoted to openness to life, with Cardinal André Vingt-Trois of Paris arguing in his reflections that knowledge and acceptance of the Magisterium of the Church on ‘openness to life are essential. “In fact – he continued – there are many people who find it difficult to grasp the distinction between the natural methods of regulating fertility and contraception. The main reasons for this is difficulty in distinguishing the difference between Christian anthropology and that of the dominant mentality. From the pastoral point of view, there is a need to better propose the anthropological vision of the Church and with it a new language and in collaboration with the academic world”.
The interventions of the Synod Fathers the theme of responsible parenthood was considered, emphasising that the gift of life (and the virtue of chastity) are basic values in Christian marriage, and underlining the seriousness of the crime of abortion. At the same time, mention was made of the numerous crises experienced by many families, for instance in certain Asian contexts, such as infanticide, violence towards women and human trafficking. The need to highlight the concept of justice among the fundamental virtues of the family was underlined.
The debate turned to the issue of the responsibility of parents in educating their children in faith and in the teachings it offers: such responsibility is primordial, it was said, and it is important to pay it suitable attention. It was also noted that the pastoral care of children can create a point of contact with families who find themselves in difficult situations. With regard to children, the negative impact of contraception on society and resulting decline in the birth rate was underlined. It was remarked that Catholics should not remain silent in relation to this issue, but should instead bring a message of hope: children are important, they bring life and joy to their parents, and they reinforce faith and religious practices.