CHALLENGES THE FAMILY FACES
Pope Francis convened the only Extraordinary Synod on the family not only because the family is so important and vital to the future of our culture and society, but also because of the very serious challenges the family faces today. Pope St. John Paul II made this observation and statement 30 years ago, “the family is the object of numerous forces that seek to destroy it or deform it.” 30 years later his words and observations ring loud and clear. When we look at our culture here and around the world we see that numerous forces have launched serious attacks to deform and destroy the sacredness, the beauty, and treasure of the family.
What are some of these forces? There is the serious threat to the family of the modern day watered-down view of marriage. In many instances, marriage or the Sacrament of Matrimony is becoming more and more a social event devoid of sacredness and sacramental character. Pope Francis states, “the Sacrament of Matrimony is reduced to a rite…a social event.”
There is the very serious threat of cohabitation which today is very common. Such a threat debases the family as Pope Francis says, “as a way of association.” In other words, the family is not a family, but an association. Cohabitation downgrades the dignity of true love, the permanency of true love, the bond of true love.
There is the threat of the throw- away culture, a provisional culture that undermines the permanency of marriage. In such a culture the love bond of marriage is weakened. Is this not the basis of pre-nuptial agreements where two parties agree prior to marriage to safeguard their individual financial assets should a divorce come about?
There is a serious threat of numerous failed marriages leading many times to another threat of single parent families. There is a growing threat in our culture to redefine marriage. How can a court of human Judges redefine that which has been defined by God? Cardinal Dolan remarks about the extraordinary Synod and the definition of marriage, “you got overwhelming agreement on things. First of all, the definition of marriage given us by God and faithfully handed on by the church – one man and one woman, life-long, life-giving, faithful, bringing about new life with children – there as an enthusiastic response to that.”
All of these are threats and challenges to the family and therefore to the future of our culture and society. Pope Francis in an address given on October 25, 2014 said these words, “support the family and defend marriage both of which have never been attacked as they are today. He goes on to say that the family is hit, the family is knocked and that the family is debased as a way of association. Can everything be called a family? How many families are divided? How many marriages are broken? How much relativism is there in the concept of the Sacrament of marriage… There is a crisis of the family, a crisis because it is hit by all sides and left very wounded. He went on to say that in contemporary reality, the Sacrament of Matrimony is devalued. We are witnessing the reduction of the sacrament to a rite The Sacrament is made a social event.”
Along with Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Francis, Patriarch Sviatoslav on August 12, 2016 while speaking to participants in a movement for married couples makes the statement about the family, “the institution of the family as an inseparable and fruitful union between a man and a woman is at the center of a large attack. He went on to further state, “Ukrainian Greek Catholics can say that the family saved the Church during the persecution of the Church and so today the sacred duty of the Church is to save the family” Yes, four years later, perhaps more than ever, the family is challenged, attacked, and must be saved. His beautiful words, “it is the sacred duty of the Church to save the family” are so powerful, meaningful, and applicable.
– Submitted by: Rev. Canon Walter Wysochansky