Amoris Laetitia 48: Elderly Persons

amoris laetitia memeThe synod bishops also looked to those nearing the end of their natural lives:

48. “Most families have great respect for the elderly, surrounding them with affection and considering them a blessing. A special word of appreciation is due to those associations and family movements committed to serving the elderly, both spiritually and socially… In highly industrialized societies, where the number of elderly persons is growing even as the birth rate declines, they can be regarded as a burden. On the other hand, the care that they require often puts a strain on their loved ones”. (Relatio Finalis 2015, 17

The diagnosis is brief, but accurate enough. Many elements of western culture do honor the elderly. But the regard is eroding across the board. Some internet conservatives see the elderly as an ideological burden.

Even as we worship youth, age and death are seen as threats to our self-image as a society:

“Care and concern for the final stages of life is all the more necessary today, when contemporary society attempts to remove every trace of death and dying. The elderly who are vulnerable and dependent are at times unfairly exploited simply for economic advantage. Many families show us that it is possible to approach the last stages of life by emphasizing the importance of a person’s sense of fulfillment and participation in the Lord’s paschal mystery. A great number of elderly people are cared for in Church institutions, where, materially and spiritually, they can live in a peaceful, family atmosphere. Euthanasia and assisted suicide are serious threats to families worldwide; in many countries, they have been legalized. The Church, while firmly opposing these practices, feels the need to assist families who take care of their elderly and infirm members”. (Relatio Finalis 2015, 20)

For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

Posted in Amoris Laetitia | 1 Comment

Amoris Laetitia 47: Persons With Special Needs

amoris laetitia memePope Francis reminds us that the synod bishops were also aware of the challenge and witness of families that include persons with “special needs”:

47. The Fathers also called particular attention to “families of persons with special needs, where the unexpected challenge of dealing with a disability
can upset a family’s equilibrium, desires and expectations… Families who lovingly accept the difficult trial of a child with special needs are greatly to be admired. They render the Church
and society an invaluable witness of faithfulness to the gift of life. In these situations, the family can discover, together with the Christian community, new approaches, new ways of acting, a
different way of understanding and identifying with others, by welcoming and caring for the mystery of the frailty of human life. People with disabilities are a gift for the family and an opportunity to grow in love, mutual aid and unity… If the family, in the light of the faith, accepts the presence of persons with special needs, they will be able to recognize and ensure the quality and value of every human life, with its proper needs, rights and opportunities. This approach will promote care and services on behalf of these disadvantaged persons and will encourage people to draw near to them and provide affection at every stage of their life”.(Relatio Finalis 2015, 21)

In some ways, every family engages significant struggles. Or engages in retreat from them. Those who do not retreat are often an example for other families in the community. Opening that conversation, “How do you manage?” And for families that treat special needs, being open to that question, and willing to share.

Pope Francis suggests a widening of the “special needs” perspective:

Here I would stress that dedication and concern shown to migrants and to persons with special needs alike is a sign of the Spirit. Both situations are paradigmatic: they serve as a test of our commitment to show mercy in welcoming others and to help the vulnerable to be fully a part of our communities.

Do you agree? Is our culture being tested? Our Church and our parish communities? Comment, as you wish.

For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

Posted in Amoris Laetitia | Leave a comment

Amoris Laetitia 46: Human Migration

amoris laetitia memeThe synod bishops addressed the topic of migration:

46. “Migration is another sign of the times to be faced and understood in terms of its negative effects on family life”.(Relatio Synodi 2014, 8)

A long quote; be patient with it, as it recognizes both the good and the bad:

The recent Synod drew attention to this issue, noting that “in various ways, migration affects whole populations in different parts of the world. The Church has exercised a major role in this area. Maintaining and expanding this witness to the Gospel (cf. Mt 25:35) is urgently needed today more than ever… Human mobility, which corresponds to the natural historical movement of peoples, can prove to be a genuine enrichment for both families that migrate and countries that welcome them. Furthermore, forced migration of families, resulting from situations of war, persecution, poverty and injustice, and marked by the vicissitudes of a journey that often puts lives at risk, traumatizes people and destabilizes families. In accompanying migrants, the Church needs a specific pastoral program addressed not only to families that migrate but also to those family members who remain behind. This pastoral activity must be implemented with due respect for their cultures, for the human and religious formation from which they come and for the spiritual richness of their rites and traditions, even by means of a specific pastoral care… Migration is particularly dramatic and devastating to families and individuals when it takes place illegally and is supported by international networks of human trafficking. This is equally true when it involves women or unaccompanied children who are forced to endure long periods of time in temporary facilities and refugee camps, where it is impossible to start a process of integration. Extreme poverty and other situations of family breakdown sometimes even lead families to sell their children for prostitution or for organ trafficking”.(Relatio Finalis 2015, 23; cf. Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees on 17 January 2016 (12 September 2015), L’Osservatore Romano, 2 October 2015, p. 8) “The persecution of Christians and ethnic and religious minorities in many parts of the world, especially in the Middle East, are a great trial not only for the Church but also the entire international community. Every effort should be encouraged, even in a practical way, to assist families and Christian communities to remain in their native lands”.(Relatio Finalis 2015, 24)

Nothing original here, and also an issue of awareness in the First World. Anti-immigrant policies and proposals, of course, have played right into the hands of the world’s terrorists by throwing doubt upon everyone on the move. Respect for immigrants’ culture is also difficult for some people. The Church may do better than some, but our record isn’t spotless.

For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

Posted in Amoris Laetitia | Leave a comment

Amoris Laetitia 45: Obstacles for Children

amoris laetitia memeThe synod bishops were certainly aware of many of the challenges faced by children in the modern world:

45. “A great number of children are born outside of wedlock, many of whom subsequently grow up with just one of their parents or in a blended or reconstituted family… The sexual exploitation of children is yet another scandalous and perverse reality in present-day society. Societies experiencing violence due to war, terrorism or the presence of organized crime are witnessing the deterioration of the family, above all in large cities, where, on their outskirts, the so-called phenomenon of ‘street-children’ is on the rise”.(Relatio Synodi 2014, 8) The sexual abuse of children is all the more scandalous when it occurs in places where they ought to be most safe, particularly in families, schools, communities and Christian institutions.(Cf. Relatio Finalis 2015, 78)

A few comments here. First, blended and “reconstituted” families are not new to the world, or even to Christianity. When adult mortality rates were higher, certainly children were passed from mother to mother, and even frequently from father to father. And while the Church sponsored and ran orphanages, it is only recently that adoption has been a serious option at all. And that, for only a few countries, one of which is the United States.

Children without a permanent family are most certainly at risk from the many exploitations of the world. At the root of them all is the lack of respect for the inherent human dignity of a person yet to reach adulthood. Because children can be dominated, they are dominated.

Like many family issues of this day, the root is a lack of respect.

For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

Posted in Amoris Laetitia | Leave a comment

Amoris Laetitia 44: Issues of Material Provision

amoris laetitia memeRemember that Amoris Laetitia is online here. Pope Francis cites bishops again. One of the curial departments advocates for decent housing with basic services:

44. The lack of dignified or affordable housing often leads to the postponement of formal relationships. It should be kept in mind that “the family has the right to decent housing, fitting for family life and commensurate to the number of the members, in a physical environment that provides the basic services for the life of the family and the community”.(Pontifical Council for the Family, Charter of the Rights of the Family (22 October 1983), Art. 11) Families and homes go together. This makes us see how important it is to insist on the rights of the family and not only those of individuals. The family is a good which society cannot do without, and it ought to be protected.(Cf. Relatio Finalis 2015, 11-12)

Marriage and family come under direct attack when underrepresented in political matters.

“The Church has always held it part of her mission to promote marriage and the family and to defend them against those who attack them”,(Pontifical Council for the Family, Charter of the Rights of the Family (22 October 1983), Introduction) especially today, when they are given scarce attention in political agendas. Families have the right to “to be able to count on an adequate family policy on the part of public authorities in the juridical, economic, social and fiscal domains”.(Pontifical Council for the Family, Charter of the Rights of the Family (22 October 1983), 9)

Health care, of course, is a family issue:

At times families suffer terribly when, faced with the illness of a loved one, they lack access to adequate health care, or struggle to find dignified employment. “Economic constraints prohibit a family’s access to education, cultural activities and involvement in the life of society. In many ways, the present-day economic situation is keeping people from participating in society. Families, in particular, suffer from problems related to work, where young people have few possibilities and job offers are very selective and insecure. Workdays are long and oftentimes made more burdensome by extended periods away from home. This situation does not help family members to gather together or parents to be with their children in such a way as to nurture their relationships each day”.(Relatio Finalis 2015, 14)

Thoughts, on the current American situation, or elsewhere in the world?

Posted in Amoris Laetitia | Leave a comment

Book of the Gospels

My previous parish received its new Book of the Gospels a few weeks ago. One of my friends shared an image of it with me, and I thought I’d share it with you readers:

STA gospel bookThe artist is Jana Pullman. The previous book had been showing significant wear on its exterior. Aside from that, it had a rather pedestrian cover. Definitely out-shone by our book of the deceased. So the books pages were incorporated into a more artistic cover.

Posted in Liturgy, Parish Life | Leave a comment

Amoris Laetitia 43: Faith and Religious Practice Weakens

amoris laetitia memePope Francis cites the synod bishops on a concern of pastoral importance, the decline of religion in society:

43. The weakening of faith and religious practice in some societies has an effect on families, leaving them more isolated amid their difficulties. The Synod Fathers noted that “one symptom of the great poverty of contemporary culture is loneliness, arising from the absence of God in a person’s life and the fragility of relationships. There is also a general feeling of powerlessness in the face of socio-cultural realities that oftentimes end up crushing families… Families often feel abandoned due to a lack of interest and attention on the part of institutions. The negative impact on the social order is clear, as seen in the demographic crisis, in the difficulty of raising children, in a hesitancy to welcome new life, in a tendency to see older persons as a burden, and in an increase of emotional problems and outbreaks of violence. The State has the responsibility to pass laws and create work to ensure the future of young people and help them realize their plan of forming a family”.(Relatio Synodi 2014, 6)

Imagine a century ago that the State has no responsibility to impose or support religion. Today the bishops look to setting the tone in society for the support of young people, especially.

Any comments?

Amoris Laetitia is online here.

Posted in Amoris Laetitia | Leave a comment