Photo: Pope Benedict
Made public today was a Message written by the Holy Father for a meeting of bishops who head episcopal commissions for the family and life in Latin America and the Caribbean. Their meeting is taking place in Bogota, Colombia, from March 28 to April 1 under the presidency of Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.
“As I reiterated during the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean”, the Pope writes, “the family is the value the people of those noble lands prize most highly. For this reason, the pastoral care of families has an important place in the evangelising activity of each one of the particular Churches, promoting a culture of life and working to ensure the rights of families are recognised and respected”.
“Nonetheless, we sorrowfully note that families are increasingly suffering from adverse situations brought about by rapid cultural changes and social instability, by migratory flows, by poverty, by education programmes which trivialise sexuality and by false ideologies. We cannot remain indifferent before such challenges”.
Benedict XVI assures the prelates that “no effort is in vain if it helps to ensure that each family, founded on the indissoluble bond between a man and a woman, carries out its mission as a living cell of society, seedbed of virtues, school of constructive and peaceful coexistence, instrument of harmony and a privileged area in which, with joy and responsibility, human life is welcomed and protected, from beginning to natural end”.
After then highlighting how the continental mission promoted during the fifth general conference in Aparecida, Brazil, “will serve to launch pastoral care of marriage and the family in the beloved countries of Latin America and the Caribbean”, the Pope affirms that “the Church puts her trust in Christian families, calling them to play a role in evangelisation and the apostolate, and inviting them to an awareness of their valuable mission in the world”.
He also encourages participants in the Bogota meeting to develop “the broad pastoral guidelines laid down by the bishops gathered in Aparecida, thus helping families to experience a profound meeting with Christ by listening to His Word, by prayer, sacramental life and the exercise of charity. In this way you will help the family to practice a solid spirituality which fosters in all its members a firm aspiration to sanctity, unafraid to express the beauty of exalted ideals and the ethical and moral requirements of life in Christ”.
The Holy Father concludes by expressing his “affection and solidarity to all the families of Latin America and the Caribbean, especially those experiencing difficult situations”.