Vatican Plans Parish Support for Families

Pontifical Council Leaders Join Meeting in Colombia

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BOGOTA, Colombia, APRIL 7, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Committees are needed to promote and defend families at the level of dioceses and parishes, according to representatives of the Vatican and Latin American bishops.

This was a conclusion from the March 29-31 meeting on the pastoral care of families held in Bogota. The president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Cardinal Ennio Antonelli and Bishop Jean Laffitte, participated.

A final statement from the meeting recognized the "real emergency" facing families due to "forces that distort and remove them from God's original plan."

"Although in many countries there is legislation to support life, the number of abortions at the global level continues to be very high," the statement noted.

Reflecting a renewed commitment to "the humanization of society through the promotion and defense of the institution of the family and the gift of life," the Church leaders recommended committees to work at diocesan and parish levels.

Families, they said, are the subject of the new evangelization, and need to hear the good news of marriage and life.

"This commits us to help families in a pastoral way so that, from the pedagogy of holiness and love, fruits of a living encounter with Jesus Christ, and through their testimony as Christian families, they are a beacon that radiates a new education to discover the wonders of God, above all in the spousal love of man and woman to which life was entrusted," the final message declared.

Spreading splendor

The Church leaders outlined further paths of collaboration between national episcopal commissions, the Latin American bishops' council on family, and the pontifical council.

Concretely, they called for better marriage preparation, "highlighting education for love which will enable recognition of the true meaning of sexuality." They recommended ongoing formation of spouses after marriage and family associations active in society. They suggested family ministry based on processes rather than isolated activities.

The participants invite a rediscovery of "the beauty of the family institution, the gift of children and joy in the commitment to spread the splendor of this truth."

In addition they express the "gratitude of the Church to spouses and families that offer a credible and attractive example of commitment in their sanctification, making their activities spiritually and humanly fruitful through their participation in the life of grace, especially in the Eucharist and in sacramental reconciliation."

To families separated and wounded by life, to those who suffer the trial of division, of despair or divorce, the representatives of the Church expressed "our profound closeness and manifest our conviction that the Lord has a particular love for them and does not fail to offer them the infinite treasures of his mercy."