Family and Life
“Lord, how can we know the way?”: The family in Europe today
Meeting of the Bishops and National Directors for Family and Life of the European Bishops’ Conferences, Bucharest, 8 - 10 May 2023
The Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE) met in Bucharest from 8 to 10 May, to discuss the theme “The family in Europe today”. Forty participants from 22 countries attended the meeting, and together they examined the social and religious situation in their respective nations, reflecting on the difficulties of understanding the deep connection that exists between sexuality, marriage and procreation in the secularized societies of our time. The complexity of these challenges demand the Church to rethink the way in which issues on marriage and family are proposed to new generations.
“Catechumenal Pathways for Married Life” for beginning a process of pastoral renewal
The first session of the meeting, entitled “Catechumenal Pathways for Married Life”, was entrusted to Gabriella Gambino, Under-secretary for Family and Life of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life. In her speech, Prof. Gambino’s desire was to highlight how in order to face the new social challenges, it is necessary for families to return to a "Christian way of life." The document recently published by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, "Catechumenal Pathways for Married Life", is an explicit invitation for the particular Churches to initiate a process of pastoral renewal, based on the proposal of a "new catechumenate", a path, that is, which is inspired by the baptismal catechumenate in order to give an answer to the needs of a Church truly in great difficulty, a Church in many ways sterile, which, within families, often fails to generate to faith.
Family: "little ecclesia" to enrich the Church
In fact, today there is a lack not only of vocations to marriage, meaning that an increasing number of baptized young people choose not to marry, but also to the priesthood. There is a lack of Christian families, capable of generating children towards a relationship with Christ. This is why a new catechumenate is urgently needed, and together it is necessary to make it permanent: to ensure that, in the dioceses, it can be initiated with the proclamation of the Christian vocation, including to marriage, beginning with children, continuing on with young people, spouses and continuing with married couples in crisis, without abandoning them. Joint journeys of faith are needed, which cover people's entire lives and the stages of the development of their faith. Starting from concrete experience and through discernment, both personal and within community paths, the catechumenate is, in fact, the way that perhaps in time will be able to revive small Christian communities, centered around parishes, but also in homes, where we need to learn to live a true liturgy of domestic life. It is the "small
ecclesia" that needs to become aware that at its core it is a community and, that together with many other small domestic churches, it needs to experience ecclesial communion. In this way, perhaps we will be able to generate in the future generations new vocations to marriage and priesthood and enrich the Church.
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