13 September 2017
Families in Brazil

“Let us propose, with conviction, the beauty of God’s plan for the family”

The Secretary, Father Awi Mello, writes to the participants of Brazil’s XV Diocesan Congress on Family Pastoral Ministry

“I heartily wish that you continue, with conviction and without becoming discouraged, to propose the beauty of God’s plan for the family and boldly face its great challenges.”

Father Alexandre Awi Mello, the new Secretary of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, addressed these words to the participants of the XV National Congress on Family Ministry, organized by the Brazilian Bishops’ Conference in Cuiabá, the Capital of Mato Grosso. Nearly one thousand family ministry workers from all over Brazil gathered from 8 to 10 September for a time of communion, formation, and exchange.

“We know that the Pope asks us to care for the family by accompanying concrete people and families—said the Dicastery’s Secretary in his written message to the participants on this occasion—, and he reminds us that this accompaniment does not mean imposing obligations in an authoritarian way but rather educating to responsible freedom: “We have been called to form consciences, not to replace them” (AL 37).

The Congress developed the theme “The Family: A Light for Life in Society” and addressed premarital and postmarital issues as well as care for “special cases.” Adoption, the family’s missionary dimension, the elderly, the collaboration between the Family Ministry Offices and the ecclesiastical tribunals are some of the topics that were dealt with in depth.

“Today’s family is undoubtedly a light for life in society and one of the privileged and urgent fields of the Church's mission today,” says the message. The Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia offers us some indications for action. It makes pastoral care for the bond of engaged and married couples a priority, and points to some resources that help them to mature in love and overcome the moments of crisis (cf. Al 211).

The Pope reminds us that we must not renounce the full ideal of marriage, but strive to consolidate marriages and prevent them from breaking (cf. AL 307) while caring mercifully for those situations where this ideal cannot (or can no longer) be fully realized.”

Finally, Fr. Awi Mello urged the participants of the Congress to attend the 11th World Meeting of Families in August 2018, in Ireland, where the preparations are now well underway thanks to the fruitful collaboration of the Archdiocese of Dublin and the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life.

Coming from Brazil, the Dicastery’s Secretary ended his message, noting that there is much to be learned in those local Churches, but that “we can be proud of the progress that we have made so far and joyfully share it.”

The Congress, centered on deepening the path of family ministry in the Church and in the today’s society, was also marked by Eucharistic celebrations, moments of prayer, theatrical representations, cultural events, and testimonies.