10 June 2021
Forum Amoris Laetitia

Amoris Laetitia: accompanying by leading the way together

Summary of the second day of the Amoris Laetitia Forum
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The second day of the Forum "Where are we with Amoris Laetitia? Strategies for the pastoral application of Pope Francis' Exhortation" was entirely devoted to the formation of carers and the education of children.

After an initial moment of prayer and an introduction by the moderator, Dr Linda Ghisoni, Undersecretary of the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life, the work began with the report "The formation of carers" by Davide and Nicoletta Oreglia Musso (Italy).

"Accompanying the formators who look after couples and families today is a challenge that has lights and shadows. We experience in part the ineffectiveness of some of the tools used in the past, but we appreciate the value of the wisdom of the relationships that our Mother Church has woven over the years", pointed out Mr and Mrs Oreglia Musso, presidents of the "Spouses in Christ" Association. The open question that the speakers left for the participants' reflection was: "How can this wealth [of the Church] be made available in a way that is fruitful for today's companions, and what indications can be given in light of Amoris Laetitia?", that is, how can we enter into a permanent mode of caring for relationships in the exercise of accompaniment?

The session devoted to the formation of accompanying persons continued with two good practices. The first testimony was that of Ryan and Marie Rose Verret (USA), who presented the experience of Witness to Love, a family movement working with 80 dioceses around the world. Witness to Love "seeks to provide adequate tools for couples to grow in the most genuine friendship" with mentor couples.  A renewal of society and communities is possible, according to the Verrets, through the friendship witnessed by mentor couples to younger couples. Married couples are a gift for marriage formation, and a catechumenate that is well-articulated and rooted in the life of the couple preparing for marriage is an opportunity to welcome new families into the life of the Church.

The second testimony was presented by Christian and Beate Gloeggler, of the Schoenstatt Movement, from the Akademie für Ehe und Familie (Germany). The Akademie offers a two-year course of formation and accompaniment for couples preparing for marriage in 10 European countries and in Brazil. The specificity of the course is, as in other similar experiences, that the couples are accompanied by other married couples who can "give the faith a happy face - or rather, two faces!".

After a debate stimulated by the sharing of two good practices, the second session devoted to the theme "Education of children" welcomed the report of Mr Luis and Mrs Pilar Jensen (Chile), consultants of the Dicastery.

Strengthening the education of children is the theme of chapter seven of Amoris Laetitia and, according to the Jensen's, "can be addressed by answering three questions together: 1. Do our children feel loved? 2. Do our children know how to love? 3. Do our children feel loved by God?".  Starting from these three important questions, it is possible to generate paths of accompaniment for parents, so that they have the tools to educate their children in the best possible way, starting from their personal and family experiences.

The first experience presented during this second session was that of the Escuela de Familias of the Archdiocese of Toledo, through the testimony of Miguel Angel Lara Villanueva and María José Aroco Allán (Spain).

The Escuelas arise - in parishes, schools and in collaboration with Caritas - from the "need to help and guide parents in the education of their children". "The project is conceived as a way of approaching families who are 'distant' from the Church or in difficulty, to help them to rediscover that the Church is Mother and helps a lot in one of the greatest challenges of their lives: the education of their children".

The second and last testimony of the session was that of Antonio Crespo and Verónica Fernández (Mexico), from the Goodlove Foundation. Created in 2017 in response to the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, the Foundation aims to network and make available to parents and formators the best projects on accompanying parents in the affective-sexual formation of their children. The urgency of giving children a positive, gradual and prudent affective-sexual education is a need that is strongly felt by the Church. The Goodlove Foundation proposes itself as a place of exchange of good practices at an international level for all those who are engaged, at different levels, in the promotion of an education to love according to Christian anthropology.

At the end of both sessions of the day, two debates with questions and interventions animated the discussion. What emerged, as was also the case yesterday, was the very profound need to share good practices and an overwhelming need to give substance to the theme of accompaniment as a testimony of life and friendship between couples. Finally, a desire emerged for greater collaboration between priests and lay people in the area of the family: a collaboration that is as effective, involving and fruitful as possible, also for the clergy themselves.