Marriage and family

Gathering, listening, discernment: cornerstones of an effective family ministry

"Catechumenal Pathways for Married Life" presented to the Bolivian Bishops' Conference


The Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life was invited by the Bolivian Bishops' Conference to speak at the meeting to program the National Plan for Family Pastoral Care for the three-year period 2023-2026 (January 19-20, 2023). The meeting, which was held online, was attended by the Undersecretary for the Family and Life department, Gabriella Gambino, and Fr. Ignacio Martinez, Official of the same department.

Professor Gambino presented the document Catechumenal Pathways for Married Life. Pastoral Orientations for Particular Churches, published by the Dicastery in response to a specific invitation from Pope Francis to indicate a path to start a process of renewing the preparation not only for the celebration of marriage, but for married life as sacramental life. For years, Professor Gambino pointed out, «we have been complaining that young people are no longer getting married; that a large proportion of the marriages celebrated are null and void; that we married couples feel a profound loneliness in living our marriage as if it were a mountain to be climbed, continually touching on the decision to abandon everything in the face of the first crises. These are the same reasons and concerns that led the Holy Father to propose this text». It is a document, Gambino continues, structured to serve as «a guide available to those working in all areas of pastoral care, from those involved in the catechesis of children to that of adolescents, including also those who accompany married couples, in order to foster the development of a truly transversal pastoral care. It is necessary to aim at gradually changing the approach of vocational pastoral care, so that starting from an early age it also explicitly contemplates marriage, alongside consecrated life. (...) Matrimony is a vocation, as such it must be proclaimed and requires discernment, as with the priesthood». Thus, the Catechumenal Pathways indicate paths that, as with Baptism, accompany first the engaged couples toward marriage and then the spouses into married life, forming them to a Christian lifestyle in order to render the grace received fruitful.

In his speech, Fr. Ignacio Martinez cited three cornerstones that Pope Francis considers fundamental in the ongoing synodal process and that can be useful in planning family ministry. First, the art of «encounter»; second, knowing how to «listen»; and finally, knowing how to properly «discern», guided by prayer and enlightened by the Word of God. Then referring to Pope Francis' new cycle of catechesis on evangelization, Fr. Martinez concluded by urging the Bolivian Family Pastoral Workers to train couples and families to not withdraw into themselves rather, precisely because they are domestic Churches, to be true “outgoing Churches”.


30 January 2023
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