09/18/2015, 00.00
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Synod: Christian family should be the leaven of society, says Card Toppo

by Nirmala Carvalho
The Archbishop of Ranchi talks about the importance of Church teachings in helping families in difficulty. Too many families do not understand the faith. They must regain a sense of community and not be inward looking. “Marriage is a Sacrament, an intimate partnership of life and love established by the Creator for the good of the partners, children and society.” Several Indian prelates will take part in the Synod.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The Christian family has to be “the leaven in society, reaching out to other families, going beyond the barriers of social status and caste. They must not remain closed in on themselves, but must embrace the society,” said Card Telesphore Toppo, archbishop of Ranchi.

The prelate spoke to AsiaNews about the great challenge the Christian family faces in the modern world, ahead of the upcoming Synod of the Family, set to start on 4 October in the Vatican.

For him, the bishops must guide families on this matter and create a sense of Christian community. To do so, "We have to understand God's plan for the family,” he explained, “and how we can meet the challenges that families face today.”

“We have to spread the Church's teaching on the family, because these teachings contain fundamental truths. To save our families and future generations with the doctrine of the Church, we have to adopt a better pastoral approach to the faithful."

The family is a crucial issue for the Church, which is engaged in a general reflection on how to face the challenges of the contemporary world, hence the topic ‘The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world’.

"Families,” noted the prelate, “are disintegrating largely due to lack of knowledge about the faith as well as various external factors which have had adverse effects on the family, namely poverty, migration, globalisation, the dowry system, alcoholism, the low status of women in society, and HIV/AIDS.”

However, “God is not a solitary being, living in isolation,” Card Toppo said. He is “a Trinity of persons, a communion of life and love. Sadly, nowadays, a sense of faith-based community is missing.  Hence, it is essential to create communities based on the faith. Families should not be inward looking.”

Continuing his reflection in marriage, the prelate said, “For us Christians, marriage is a sacrament, an intimate partnership of life and love established by the Creator for the good of the partners, children and society.”

“The Eucharist is sacrament of love and unity and is the food for family life; hence, the marriage sacrament is done in the context of the Eucharist. It is fundamental that we encourage the faithful to discover all the beauty found in receiving the sacrament of matrimony.”

Turning to the role of the bishops, the cardinal said, “The Eucharist and the sacraments of marriage and family are given to us by the grace of God which comes to us through the sacraments. For us bishops, this means supporting the Christian ideal of marriage as a vocation based on life-long love and fidelity.”

In view of this, “We commit ourselves to making the family apostolate an integral part of the pastoral planning of our dioceses, to strengthening the family ministry and to accompanying families in their struggle to live up to this ideal.”

The Synod on the family is scheduled for 4-25 October. Several Indian Church leaders will attend.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, Archbishops Filipe Neri of Goa and Daman and Dominic Jala of Shillong, and Bishop Selvister Ponnumuthan of Punalur will represent the Roman Catholic Church-Latin rite.

Card George Alencherry of Ernakulam-Angamaly, Archbishop Andrews Thazhath of Trichur and Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt of Palai will represent the Syro-Malabar Church.

Major Archbishop Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, who is also the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, will represent the Syro-Malankara Church.

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