Chapter III. The Family and pastoral Accompaniment. Complex situations.
- “The Synod…wishes…to promote a pastoral discernment of situation where people have a difficulty appreciating and receiving the Sacrament as a gift…or compromise this gift.”Dialogue with them. “Pastors should identify elements which can promote evangelization and the human and spiritual growth” of the married couple.
- “Pastoral Ministry on behalf of the family clearly proposes the Gospel Message and gathers the positive elements present in those situations, which do not yet or no longer correspond to this message.”
Pre-arranged marriage. Living together without marriage. “De facto unions.” Marriage seen as a luxury. “All these situations must be addressed in a constructive manner…turn them into opportunities leading to conversion and the fullness of marriage and the family in the light of the Gospel.”
- “The choice of a civil marriage or…simply living together is often motivated…by situations or cultural contingencies.” Positive elements in these cases: intention to have “a stable union in the future”, “traces of a generous and enduring love”, seek the other’s goof, etc.
- Issues related to mixed marriages require specific attention. Marriages between Catholics and other baptized persons ‘have their own particular nature, but they contain numerous elements that could well be made good use of and developed, both for their intrinsic value and for the contribution that they can make to the ecumenical movement.’ For this purpose ‘an effort should be made to establish cordial cooperation between the Catholic and the non-Catholic Ministers and the wedding ceremony’ (FC, 78).” (Regarding Eucharistic communion of the baptized non-Catholic follow directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism, Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, 1993, 159-160).
- “Marriages of disparity of cult represents a privileged place for inter-religious dialogue in everyday life, and can be a sign of hope for religious communities”…”marriages of disparity of cult involve special difficulties regarding both the Christian identity of the family and thereligious upbringing of the children.” “Respect the religious freedom of everyone.”
- “While mixed marriages and marriages of disparity of cult can be potentially fruitful, they can also lead to critical situation which are not easily resolved, more on the pastoral rather than the normative level, namely, the religious upbringing of the children, participation in the liturgical life of the spouse and the sharing of a spiritual experience.” Pay attention to the future husband and wife – especially “the upbringing of their children in the Christian faith.”
- “Particular problems arise when persons in a complex marital situation wish to be baptized. Bishops…to exercise a pastoral discernment.”
- “The homosexual. Respect him/her. “Avoid ‘every sign of discrimination’ (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, re homosexual union).” Guide families with homosexual members. No to homosexual (same-sex) marriage.
Accompaniment in Different Situations
- Church accompanies family as a companion on the journey. Stay close. Listen. Move ahead and point the way. Follow, support, encourage. “The Church will have to initiate everyone – priests, religious and lay – into this ‘art of accompaniment’.”
- Needed: a ministry for broken families. Separation. Loneliness. Violence. Children’ sexual abuse.
- “Failure in a marriage is a painful experience for everyone.” But such failure “can become an opportunity for reflection, conversion and trust in God”…”the need for pastoral conversion and reconciliation…through specialized counseling and mediation centres…in dioceses. Justice to be promoted in a failed marriage.
“In every case, the Church is always to highlight the injustice which often comes from a situation of divorce.”
- Single parenthood results from a variety of situation: biological mothers or fathers who have never wanted to form a family; situation of violence where parent is forced to flee with the children; death of one parent; one parent’s abandonment of the family, etc.
“Whatever the cause, the parent who lives with the child(ren) must find support and comfort from other families that form the Christian Community…and from the parish.” Some pastoral concern for widows and single mothers and their children.
- “When a husband and wife are having trouble in their relationship they must be able to count on the help and guidance of the Church. “Reconciliation. Forgiveness. Support from relatives and friend for reconciliation; including professional help. Action of “Holy Spirit is crucial in the care of persons and broken families”; also reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
- “…faithful who have had an unhappy marital experience, investigating and verifying the invalidity of the marriage represents a possible course of action.” “Motu proprio ‘Mitis.ludex Dominus Iesus’ and ‘Mitis et Misericos Iesus’ led to a simplification of the procedures in the declaration of nullity of a marriage.” “Bishop…is the one who renders judgment” in his diocese. (MI preamble, III).
- Couples who remain faithful to each other despite difficulties are praiseworthy.
Discernment and Integration
- “The baptized who are divorced and civilly remarried need to be more integrated into Christian Communities in a variety of possible way, while avoiding any chance of scandal.” Such care is an expression of the Church’s charity.
- “Pastors to exercise careful discernment of situation.” (cf. FC, 84). Help couples understand their situation. “The divorced and remarried should ask themselves how they have acted towards their children, when the conjugal union entered into crisis; if they made attempts at reconciliation; what is the situation of the abandoned party; what effect does the new relationship have on the rest of the family and the community of the faithful”; example for young people.
“Imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified (CCC. 1735) due to several constraints.”
- “The path of accompaniment and discernment guides the faithful to an awareness of their situation before God. Conversation with the priest in the internal forum, contributes to the formation of a correct judgment on what hinders the possibility of a fuller participation in the life of the Church, and Church practice which can foster it and make it grow. Conditions for discernment: “humility, discretion and love for the Church and her teaching.”
NEXT ISSUE. PART III. CHAPTER IV: THE FAMILY AND EVANGELIZATION