The apostolic dimension of the domestic Church

Speech by the Under-Secretary Gabriella Gambino during the study day on the theme “The Family as a Primary Evangelizing Subject”

Last March 23, the 5th Interdisciplinary Study Day JURIDICAL ANTHROPOLOGY OF THE FAMILY organized by the Faculty of Canon Law and the Center for Legal Studies on the Family was held in Rome at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. The theme of the day, “The Family as a Primary Evangelizing Subject”, was presented within a dynamic and interdisciplinary reflection, which created a dialogue between the outlook and perspectives of family pastoral action with cultural action, with two precise goals: first, to identify together the most effective ways to powerfully reveal the "beauty of the family," as a system of virtuous relationships within it and of relationships that the family is spontaneously able to generate outside it; second, to make families solid and aware of the primary evangelizing task entrusted to the family as such, in order to evangelize one another, to support each other in the difficult challenge of living their faith and passing it on to their children in their daily lives. Among the various speeches, Professor Gabriella Gambino, Under-secretary of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, focused on "The Apostolic Dimension of the Domestic Church."

Based also upon her own family experience, she pointed out the urgency of «making families discover that Christian life (...) begins in the home. In fact, the normal everyday activities of the family can make up a true liturgy of family life (...) as a lived experience of the Gospel inside and outside one's home. The Second Vatican Council's appraisal of the family as a "domestic Church" has opened up for it unexpected prospects for apostolate and participation in the Church's saving mission. And it is important for bishops and priests in charge of communities to urge families now, more than ever, to live out their very existence as sacramental communities, both internally and ad extra: Domestic churches in action». It is necessary to provide families with concrete tools for them to learn "how to" become domestic Churches in action. This also means beginning to use a shared ecclesial language that holds this perspective of the family as an evangelizing subject, so that when, for example, in pastoral theology the expression "taking care" of families is used, it should refer to the task of making them solid families, aware of their identity and mission. «They are not an object of family pastoral care, passive recipients of services and catechesis, rather subjects and protagonists themselves of a pastoral care in which they must be able to feel involved, called to intervene in order to be formed, to nurture themselves, to take responsibility for evangelizing each other, with the constant help of the pastors».

Today, Professor Gambino continued, the Church is called to «set up pastoral care (...) that is evangelizing in both an original and preventive way, capable of teaching families to evangelize each other (...) There is an urgent need to establish domestic Churches». Also, in this regard, there was a very interesting presentation by the International Federation for Family Development, a nonprofit organization present in 63 countries around the world, whose mission is precisely to provide operational support to families by means of training parents and educating children, beginning with the concrete and real difficulties of families, through the "Case method" technique.

The complete Proceedings of the Day will be available and published in the coming months.

28 March 2023