Family apostolate new focus of Catholic Church

February 8, 2017 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Bhopal, February 8, 2017: Catholic bishops have pledged to re-orient the functioning of the Church in India catering to the needs of Catholic families such as inter-religious marriages, single parent, differently abled children, grieving and bereaved, migrants, sick, elderly, transgenders and those living in dire poverty who need urgent attention.

A decision to this effect was taken at the end of the 29th plenary assembly of Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) which concluded on February 8 at Asha Niketan Campus, Bhopal, the Central Indian state capital of Madhya Pradesh.

More than 130 bishops including two cardinals and archbishops belonging to the 132 Latin rite diocese attended the week long deliberations focused on revitalizing the Catholic families in India following the exhortation of Pope Francis – Amoris Laetitia (Promoting the Joy of Love in Our Families) that began on January 31.

The CCBI in its final statement issued on February 7 said, “the welfare of the family is decisive for the future of the world and of the Church”.

“The family is the top priority of the Church now”, said Cardinal Telesphore P Toppo of Ranchi. “We will have to take care our families at any cost”, he told adding, “family is the basis of the Church”.

Keeping this in view, the bishops agreed to lay special emphasis on tightening the pre-marriage course program involving more family oriented programs enabling the aspiring boys and girls for marriage to understand what marriage and family life means.

The Church wants to “help young people discover the dignity and beauty of marriage without minimizing the call to priestly and religious life”, says a statement issued after the meet.

“We have to strengthen the family apostolate with proper participation of priests and nuns working in each parish”, said Bishop Francis Kalist of Meerut.

“Now the time has changed the priest and nuns will have to regularly visit families and share their sorrows and gladness as one of the family members”, he told

“As I being in a mission diocese, whenever I go for pastoral visit in a parish I make sure that I visit every family in the parish”, the prelate says adding, “the family apostolate should focus on total integration and participation of priests and nuns in a parish with their families”.

“Unless a priest regularly visit a family, there cannot be total integration and help, if a family is in trouble”, he asserts. “A priest”, the prelate made it clear, “should become a family member of his parishioners”.

The prelates too agreed to bring all estranged persons and families back to the Church fold. They also asserted that one person cannot be kept away from the Church for any fault taking a very sympathetic view on such persons.

The CCBI in its final statement says, “Church needs to reach out to those who for several reasons feel estranged from the Church (divorced, divorced and civilly remarried, cohabiting partners, etc.)”.

“We keep in mind the words of Pope Francis: “what is urgently needed today is a ministry to care for those whose marital relationship has broken down”. We want all to feel the maternal love of the Church in such a way that they experience the merciful embrace of the Father from which no one is excluded”, adds the statement.

The other key points the prelates focused on to revitalize family life in India include better training to priests, religious, catechists and pastoral works to understand family issues and offer help in time.

The training of seminarians, the bishops say, “receive a more extensive interdisciplinary and not merely doctrinal formation in the areas of engagement and marriage”. They should have exposure to family situations”.

“We will show a respectful attitude to those who have not been provided with adequate pastoral care such as transgenders, people with different orientations, etc” among other things the bishops feel will help the Church in India transform Catholic families.

– matters india

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