Issues Vol. 168‎ > ‎

Vol. 168 No. 42 - October 21 - October 27, 2017

01 Cover

posted Oct 18, 2017, 10:06 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 20, 2017, 7:43 AM ]

03 Index

posted Oct 18, 2017, 10:05 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 18, 2017, 10:06 AM ]

04 Official

posted Oct 18, 2017, 10:04 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 18, 2017, 10:04 AM ]

05 Engagements

posted Oct 18, 2017, 10:00 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 18, 2017, 10:00 AM ]

07 National Symposium 'Understanding Amoris Laetitia in the Indian Situation' - Message from the Apostolic Nuncio

posted Oct 18, 2017, 9:57 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 18, 2017, 10:09 AM ]

08 Response of Amoris Laetitia to Challenges families face - I - Cardinal Oswald Gracias'

posted Oct 18, 2017, 9:55 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 18, 2017, 9:55 AM ]

Cardinal Oswald Gracias'
Presidential Address

The Gospel of life and love is at the heart of Jesus' message and has a profound echo in the heart of every person. "It is to be preached with dauntless fidelity as 'good news' to the people of every age and culture and is... the source of invincible hope and true joy for every period of history."

Unfortunately today, there is a growing cultural, ideological, social and spiritual crisis faced by many families due to the negative influence of the mass media, the hedonistic culture, relativism, materialism, individualism, secularism, atheistic ideologies and an excessive and selfish liberalisation of morals. Family life is affected by a growing number of married couples asking for separation from the marital bond and civil divorce, and also many couples choosing live-in relationships without making a marital commitment. One also observes an increasing number of single parent families. There are also many families living in poverty and deprivation of the basic necessities of life, and with little or no access to basic healthcare and education for their children. Women are unfortunately most affected as they face discrimination and oppression from within the family setup, and also in society.

At the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2014, the Bishops reflected upon the critical and invaluable reality of the family and the pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelisation. Subsequently, the XIV Ordinary General Assembly, which took place in October 2015, discussed in great detail the vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the contemporary world. Since the proclamation of the gospel of the family is an essential part of the mission of the Church, the primary task of the Church is to proclaim the joy of love, that is, Amoris Laetitia. "The Joy of Love experienced by families is also the joy of the Church." And the welfare of families is important for the future of the world and also the Church. The Church is also called upon to offer support and guidance to families, and to accompany and illuminate them with the light of the Gospel.

Amoris Laetitia is an invitation to Christian families to value the gifts of marriage and the family, and to persevere in a love that is generous, committed, faithful and patient. It also asks us to be a source of encouragement and hope for those families that are undergoing crisis, trials, difficulties and who need our understanding, support and merciful and compassionate care. As Pope Francis tell us: "No one drops down from heaven perfectly formed. Families need to constantly grow and mature in their ability to love." Hence, it is very appropriate and timely that this National Symposium is having as its focus the Understanding of Amoris Laetitia from the doctrinal, moral, spiritual, biblical, catechetical, canonical, socio-economic, inter-religious and cultural, human, psychological and pastoral perspectives.

Anthropological and Cultural Challenges

The family today is going through a profound cultural crisis. Amoris Laetitia refers to the bitter truth that is found throughout Sacred Scripture and which still exists in our age, namely, the presence of pain, evil and violence that tends to break up families and their communion of life and love. Years ago, Pope Leo XIII noted that “A religious error is the main root of all social and political evils.” According to him, the root cause of family disaster is the wearing away of spiritual life in the family. The family bonds are getting easily broken today. This weakening of the family bonds is serious, as noted in Evangelii Gaudium, because the family is the fundamental cell of society where one learns to live with one another, rather than living only for oneself. Further, marriage is viewed by many as "a form of mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will." The challenge for us is to help couples in their emotive maturation and affective development through fostering dialogue among themselves and trust in the mercy of God. Our families must be to be interiorly fashioned and formed as members of the domestic church through the Church’s prayerful reading of Sacred Scripture. The Word of God is a source of spirituality, comfort and light for every family, and especially for those who experience challenges, difficulties and suffering.


10 Proceedings of the National Symposium on Amoris Laetitia in the Indian Situation - BP John Rodrigues

posted Oct 18, 2017, 9:53 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 18, 2017, 9:53 AM ]

Delegates from 41 dioceses participated in the National Symposium organized by the CCBI Commissions for Family and Doctrine & Theology; CBCI Office of Justice, Peace & Development, FIAMC Biomedical Ethics Centre, and Diocesan Human Life Committee, Mumbai, at St Pius X College, Goregaon, from Friday, October 13 to Sunday, October 15, 2017.

The programme included prayer, Eucharistic celebrations, a message from the Apostolic Nuncio, inputs by experts in the field, personal sharing and testimonies by married couples, and group and panel discussions on various aspects of the document. The short presentations by the youth of the Archdiocese of Bombay and the cultural programmes in the evenings by various groups served to enliven the otherwise serious atmosphere.

The symposium was organised to have a deeper understanding of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, to reflect together on it and to formulate a pastoral response to the call for strengthening, enriching and supporting families and gradually leading them to find joy in living the ideal concept of Christian marriage.

Christian Marriage is patterned on the Holy Trinity, incorporating the elements of unconditional love, uniqueness, self emptying, and community of persons.

Certain principles proposed by Pope Francis in Amoris Laetitia were highlighted, namely, to avoid immoderate desire for a total change, without sufficient reflection or grounding; not seeking to solve everything by applying general rules or conclusions from particular theological principles; to form the consciences of people without attempting to replace them; accompanying couples in difficult marital situations, practising charity and mercy, without being judgmental. The Pope’s affirmations that “not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium” and that “each country or region, moreover, can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs” (Amoris Laetitia no. 3) were also pointed out.

The inputs covered a wide range of topics on marriage and family life from the biblical, theological, spiritual, moral, canonical, sociological, psychological, cultural, ecological, socio-economic, human and pastoral perspectives. Special attention was paid to inter-religious marriages, wounded families, the importance of reconciliation, the religious education of children, and the dignity and role of women in the family and society in our Indian situation.

At the symposium, it was clarified that the document Amoris Laetitia reaffirms the traditional teachings of the Church on unity and indissolubility of marriage. It was stressed that persons who were divorced and civilly remarried, even though not permitted to receive the Eucharist, are not excommunicated from the Church. Rather, they need to be accompanied by their pastor and guided in their sharing in the life of the Church through pastoral discernment in each individual case. The Church is more aware of the need for the tribunals to be more efficient with well-trained and competent personnel.


11 'Amoris Laetitia': An Over-View - Julian Saldanha, S.J.

posted Oct 18, 2017, 9:52 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 18, 2017, 9:52 AM ]

Amoris Laetitia (2016) ranks as the longest papal exhortation or encyclical. The reason is that the Pope has made a special effort to be close to people’s lives. This necessitated covering a wide variety of questions. For example, while affirming that gays must be respected in their dignity, the Pope repeats the categorical statement of the preceding Synod, that “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.” (251) Particularly new in the Exhortation is the stress on accompaniment of couples/families by pastors and pastoral workers. There must be understanding of the concrete reality of people’s problems; the Pope makes a number of practical suggestions in this line. In addition to numerous references to the preceding Synodal documents, he quotes seven times from the bishops’ conferences of five continents. He also quotes significant writers from three continents and even a film. The Exhortation carries 391 footnotes. At the Vatican press conference for the release of the Document, it was stated that the greatest challenge was: 1) to read it without rushing to put it into practice, and 2) to be understanding in the face of complex and painful situations, to “enter into the reality of other people’s lives.” (308)

At the very outset, it is well to keep in mind certain observations of the Pope, which should colour our entire reading of the Exhortation. First of all, two extremes are to be avoided: a) an “immoderate desire for total change without sufficient reflection or grounding”; b) seeking to “solve everything by applying general rules or conclusions from particular theological considerations.” In this context, we must beware of turning doctrines into “dead stones to be hurled at others.” (49) Furthermore, “not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by the magisterium.” For “we have been called to form consciences, not to replace them.” (37) Besides, “cultures are in fact quite diverse and every general principle needs to be inculturated.” (3)

In the light of the Word - the Bible and families:


14 Interreligious and Inter-Caste Challenges of Marriages: Amoris Laetitia Archbishop Felix Machado

posted Oct 18, 2017, 9:50 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 18, 2017, 9:50 AM ]

The welfare of the family is decisive for the future of the world and that of the Church. We cannot ignore our own concrete realities here and now in India. The Synod Fathers (2015) asked that, faithful to Christ’s teaching, we must look to the reality of the family today in all its complexity, with both lights and shadows. Let us ask, “What experiences and challenges has the Church learned from Christian families who are surrounded by the multi-religious society and caste system-laden India, in general, and 'interreligious and inter-caste families' in particular?” That is the question I will ask in this brief reflection.

The Holy Father quotes the Spanish bishops in Amoris Laetitia (AL) who noted that today’s society does not allow an uncritical survival of older forms and models; Pope Francis continues, “it is also evident that the principal tendencies in anthropological-cultural changes are leading individuals, in personal and family life, to receive less and less support from social structures than in the past” (AL, 32). I believe the Holy Father is tacitly alluding to the evident fact of the rapidly sweeping ideology of ‘secularism’ in the Western world.

Is that our experience here in India? A glance around us makes us see that, in spite of the attacks on the family, people of all religions in India (Christians as well as Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, Sikhs and tribals) are relatively resilient to the onslaught of attacks on family by successfully safeguarding the structure of the family, thanks to a large extent to their respective religious traditions and cultural integrity. Thanks also to the mutual influence with multi-religious and multi-cultural Indian situation, Christian families continue to live stable and positively enriched married and family life. For example, the Holy Father speaks about “Life in the Wider Family” (ch. 5, # 187-198). The individualism so prevalent today can lead to creating small nests of security, where others are perceived as bothersome or a threat. Such isolation cannot offer greater peace or happiness; rather, it straitens the heart of a family. But in India we do experience how, to a greater extent, the values that the Pope speaks of, are still strong in many families: family made up of parents, grand-parents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins, and even neighbours. The larger family includes fathers-in-law, mothers-in-law and all the relatives of the couple. Obviously, these relatives, Pope Francis warns, must not be seen as competitors, threats or intruders. The couple must maintain their legitimate privacy and independence.


16 Social and Economic Factors affecting Family Life in India - Bishop Allwyn D’Silva

posted Oct 18, 2017, 9:48 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 18, 2017, 9:48 AM ]

There is a large range of questions arising with family life in Asia. One should always be grounded in reality when it comes to dealing with “families in a complex situation.” There is no simple solution by applying general or theological principles to a complex reality. Family issues are at the same time social issues, and when it comes to solutions, we should never forget to take into account the socio-political framework, which has so much influence on the issue (AL 3 and 6).

Indian families in complex situations

a. Obstacles to create a family: youth unemployment; poor jobs; precarious jobs; part-time jobs; unemployment of educated people…

b. Very low fertility rate. No provisions to care for children (except mothers at home). No public institutions (kindergarten); expensive solutions to take care of young children… no proper maternity leave. Family solidarity in a context of demographic imbalance.

c. Migrant workers, overseas workers, including women, including mothers. Who cares for the migrant workers’ children? Children educated by grandparents and/or neighbours.

d. Low wages, excessive working hours… preventing family life.

e. High housing expenses. Expensive or time-consuming transport from home to work.

f. Husbands’ alcoholism; domestic violence.

Church’s Response:

Pope Francis recognised in his apostolic exhortation on "the joy of love," Amoris Laetitia, that "the suffering created by unemployment and the lack of steady work" can "take its toll on the serenity of family life" and that a lack of affordable housing, "today's fast pace of life, stress and the organisation of society and labour" can make it difficult to commit to a permanent relationship.


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