04 August 2017

2017 International Family Encounter of the CVX

May Families be Outgoing Communities

From 16 to 21 July, the International Family Encounter (IFE) held at the Escorial in Madrid, Spain, brought together 80 Ignatian lay people, experts in family ministry, from 30 countries. The meeting was organized by the Community of Christian Life (CVX) in collaboration with the Instituto Universitario de la Familia of the Pontifical University Comillas. Father José Guillermo Gutiérrez represented the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life during the entire encounter.

The theme of this IFE was “See how they love one another. A lay Ignatian response to Amoris Laetitia.” In fact, the influence of the Ignatian spirituality can be perceived between the lines all throughout the Exhortation “The Joy of Love.” This is especially important for the renewed central role that Pope Francis and the two Synods attributed to the great themes of discernment and accompaniment. Father Guillermo Gutiérrez, therefore, urged the Christian Life Community in different countries to help make Amoris Laetitia known and to promote its practice in family ministry by living the Ignatian spirituality deeply, as families and lay faithful.

The IFE shared some resources developed by the Community in recent years. One of them is “El Reloj de la Familia”—the family’s watch—created for CVX-Spain with the collaboration of Comillas’ University Insitute of the Family. Recently, this interesting pastoral resource was diffused in Latin America, and it is now available in Africa, in both French and English. Another interesting proposal presented is a table game for couples called “Duópolis,” created by CVX-Chile, in which the spouses address deep questions about various essential aspects of their common life. France, in turn, presented a “portfolio” of different initiatives. One of the most interesting is intended for mixed couples, composed of believers and skeptics. These couples meet to deepen the spirituality that they share. Another French experience is “Famille & CO,” which helps families to become outgoing communities, open and caring “outgoing families,” who transform society, as Pope Francis and the whole Church asks them to. Alongside these proposals, there are other innovative resources for family ministry that are already realizing the “missionary creativity” to which Amoris Laetitia invites us.

During the IFE, a large international network of Jesuit lay people specializing in family pastoral care was created, including the 70 countries where the CVX is present, with the collaboration of Jesuit universities such as Comillas. This network will be called Crear Familia—Creating Family—and will offer reflections and training for the family based on the keys of Ignatian spirituality, such as discernment or what Father Pedro Arrupe called “families for others.”

Father Guillermo Gutiérrez, urged them “to always add and never stay enclosed in the Church,” with a call to participate fully and openly in diocesan pastoral ministry, pointing out that the Church’s renewed pastoral care of the family is not an “imperative pastoral ministry, but an indicative one: It shows the beauty of the family; it shows the beauty of Jesus’ proposal; it shows to the families that God is in their heart.”