The Bishops Conference of Argentina meeting in plenary assembly this week published a document entitled, “The Family: Image of God’s Love,” in which the bishops reflect on the challenges facing the family and reaffirm the value of the family institution as the foundation of society.
The message, dated May 15, explains that the intention of the bishops is to express their closeness and solidarity with families “that are living in difficult situations, in the midst of suffering, injustice, deficiency and painful experiences, which have left them with a feeling of failure or brokenness that is not fully compatible with the message of the Gospel.”
The bishops warned that the institution of the family seems to be harassed “by legislation that encourages its dissolution; by ideological models that relativize the concepts of person, marriage and family; by the socio-economic situation; by the lack of communication, by superficiality and intolerance, and even by aggression and violence in the treatment of one another.”
The “culture of death” scorns and marginalizes “the infirm and the elderly in abortion, euthanasia, murder, scorn for life-long commitments,” said the bishops, recalling that “physical life must be respected from conception to natural death, and it should be cared for and served, so that everyone can have food, clothing, housing, education, work, free time, health assistance and security.”
The basic cell of society
In their statement the bishops recall that “the family is a natural institute with precedence over any other community, including the State,” and that it cannot be treated on the same level as “other realities that do not have the same identity: cohabitating couples, same-sex unions. To treat unequal realities equally is an injustice.”
“The family demands the recognition of the dignity of the human person from conception to natural death,” said the bishops. “It is self-destructive for a society to accept the crime of abortion, the freezing of embryos, the destruction of embryos, cloning, euthanasia and the manipulation of life,” they added.
Chastity in marriage
The statement also underscores that “the idea of love which is promoted today” reduces love to genital activity “and separates love from sexuality, and sexuality from procreation and all normal restraint. It is a concept very distinct from the teaching of the Church, which seeks to safeguard the full truth about human love, “not by imposing or oppressing with strange laws, but by understanding and serving sexuality according to God’s design, under the double light of His Word and natural reason.”
Through the Sacrament of Marriage, the message goes on, “Spouses should be docile to the call of the Lord and act as faithful interpreters of His design, generously opening the family to new life, and always remaining in an attitude of service to life.”
Chastity “is not limited to sexual continence, but rather means the capacity to love without possessing and to have authentic relationships. Chastity, a common value for diverse situations, is the correct development of sexuality, the premise necessary to live marriage, consecrated virginity, the single life or widowhood worthily,” the bishops said.
Later in the document the bishops express the necessity to “rediscover the Eucharist as the foundation and soul of family mission and communion.” “We invite the faithful to rediscover the Eucharist as the very fountain of Christian marriage,” the message adds.
On the other hand, with the reality that “many people are living in irregular situations,” the bishops state their desire to “renew the invitation of John Paul II, which we make our own, that they not see themselves as separated from the Church…We exhort them to listen to the Word of God, to attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and to persevere in prayer, in works of charity and the promotion of justice, and to educate their children in the Christian faith.”
Lastly, the bishops call on lawmakers and leaders to “avoid passing laws that, ignoring the dignity of the person, undermine the roots of society,” and they pray that God will grant “the families of our country the grace to be strong and joyful in the midst of the trials of each day, and to be generous in bringing about, with a renewed commitment to life and love, the new evangelization and the moral renewal which we need.”