Vatican City (AsiaNews) - A message released by the Synod of Bishops on the Family expresses "profound closeness" to the families who are suffering violence in Iraq, Syria and around the world. "In particular - it says among other things - let us lift up our prayer to the Lord for the Syrian and Iraqi families who are forced to abandon all they possess and flee towards an uncertain future because of the Christian faith they profess or because they belong to other ethnic or religious communities. With the Holy Father, Francis, we reiterate that "no one can use the name of God to commit violence" and that "killing in the name of God is a great sacrilege!" (Address to the leaders of other religions and other Christian denominations, Tirana, September 21, 2014). In thanking international organizations and countries for their solidarity, we invite people of good will to continue to provide the necessary assistance and help to the innocent victims of this barbarism that is taking place, and at the same time, we ask the international community to take action to re-establish peaceful coexistence in Iraq, Syria and throughout the Middle East. Likewise, our thoughts go to the families torn apart and suffering in other parts of the world, who suffer persistent violence. We want to ensure them of our constant prayer that the merciful Lord convert hearts and grant peace and stability to those who are now being put to the test".
The morning's interventions also spoke of the "difficulties facing families in the Middle East, especially Iraq". "These numerous conflicts have serious repercussions on families, divided by the death of their members, forced to migrate in search of a safe place to live, deprived of a future for the young who are removed from schools or for the elderly who are abandoned to their own devices. The unity of the Christian family in the Middle East is profoundly disrupted, with consequences also for the social and national unity of the countries in the region. Faced with such dramatic situations, the Church truly represents a safe haven, a "family of families" that offers comfort and hope. It is also necessary to prepare married couples to be "mediators" of peace and reconciliation.".
In addition to thinking about the families of the Middle East, the Synod yesterday afternoon saw the continuation of the debate on "The Church and the family in front of the educational challenge. Challenge of education in general / Christian education in difficult family situations." This morning, however, there were 15 interventions by auditors.
"First of all - says a note from the Vatican press office - the call to life as a fundamental element of the family was reiterated, hence, the invitation to the faithful to deepen their knowledge of Paul VI's Humanae Vitae, to better understand the meaning of and use of natural methods of regulating fertility and non-acceptance of contraception. Union and procreation - it was said - are not separate from the conjugal act. There was renewed and strong condemnation of genetic manipulation and cryopreservation of embryos ".
"The tendency of some countries and organizations in the Western world to present, in particular in the context of Africa, some concepts (including abortion and same-sex unions), as 'human rights' , linking economic aid and pressure campaigns to the acceptance of such concepts, was highlighted. In this regard, mention was also made of the fact that the expression 'sexual and reproductive health rights' does not have, under international law, a precise definition, and thus has come to encompass principles that contradict each other, such as the condemnation of forced abortion and the promotion of safe abortion, or healthcare in maternity and the promotion of contraception. Although devoid of binding value, however, the promotion of such 'rights' is a risk, because it can affect the interpretation of other norms, in particular in the fight against discrimination of women".
"The importance of adequate preparation for marriage was again emphasized, given that the celebration seems to be increasingly reduced to the social and legal event rather than religious and spiritual one". The preparatory course is often perceived as "something to be ticked off the to do list, without any particular conviction and appears to be too short. Given, however, that marriage is a vocation for life, its preparation should be long and detailed, as is the case for the religious life. The frequent lack of awareness of the value of the sacrament of marriage among engaged couples was also mentioned. To the extent that the celebration of the marriage rite is not automatically the celebration of the sacrament of marriage".
This calls into question "the need to adequately and permanently prepare priests in relation to themes regarding the family, especially in relation to openness to life, so that they are able to explain and speak naturally and clearly about conjugal love. It was also noted that if natural family planning is explained in depth, highlighting its positive worth, it can strengthen the life of the couple. In this respect, it was reiterated that homilies, if well prepared, may ensure that the faithful participate more fully in the celebration of Mass".
Another point highlighted by the auditors was the need for the Church "to listen more to laypeople in the search for solutions to the problems of families, especially in relation to the sphere of intimacy in the life of couples. For this reason it is important for there to be synergy between the academic world and the pastoral world, so as to form not "technicians" but rather pastoral workers who know and understand how to promote the themes of family and life through a solid Catholic overall anthropological vision".