The People Speak Out

Local voices connecting globally

This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good.  (Pope Francis)

Canon Law 212 calls upon the laity to speak up:

2 - The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.

§3. - According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

At his public audience on August 5, 2015, Pope Francis made the following remarks, urging that those who are divorced and remarried be welcomed:

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

With this catechesis we continue our reflection on the family. After speaking, the last time, about the wounds of families because of misunderstanding of the spouses, today I would like to give attention to another reality: how to take care of those who, following the irreversible failure of their marriage bond, have embarked on a new union.

The Church knows well that such a situation contradicts the Christian sacrament. However, in his gaze the teacher always draws from a mother’s heart; a heart, animated by the Holy Spirit, always looks for the good and the salvation of people. That’s why she feels the duty, “for the love of the truth”, to “discern situations.” As St. John Paul II expressed the situation in his Apostolic Exhortation “Familiaris Consortio” (no. 84), for example, he drew attention to the difference between those who have suffered the separation compared to those who caused it. You must make this discernment.

If we look at these new bonds through the eyes of young children – a look from one who is small – with children’s eyes, we see an even more urgent need to develop in our communities real welcome to the people living these situations. It is therefore important that the style of the community, its language, its attitudes, are always attentive to the lives of these little people. They are the ones who suffer the most in these situations. Moreover, how can we recommend that these parents to do everything to educate their children in the Christian life, by giving them the example of a faith practiced with conviction, if we kept the parents away from the life of the community, as if they were excommunicated? You must make sure not to add more burdens to those that the children in these situations already have to bear! Unfortunately, the number of these children is really great. It is important that they experience the Church as a caring mother to everyone, always willing to listen and to encounter.

In these decades, in truth, the Church has been neither insensitive nor lazy. By the profound work done by pastors, led and confirmed by my Predecessors, there is a growing awareness that we need a fraternal and attentive hospitality, love and truth, towards the baptized who have established a new relationship following the failure of the sacramental marriage; in fact, these people are not excommunicated — not excommunicated! — and should never be treated as if they were: they are always part of the Church.

Pope Benedict XVI spoke on this issue, calling for careful discernment and wise pastoral care, knowing that there are no “simple recipe” (Address to the Seventh World Meeting of Families in Milan, June 2, 2012, answer n. 5).

Hence the repeated invitation to pastors to manifest openly and consistently the community’s willingness to welcome them and encourage them, that they may live and develop more and more that they belong to Christ and the Church through prayer, by listening to the Word of God, by coming with frequency to the liturgy, by Christian education of children, with love and service to the poor, and by a commitment to justice and peace.

The biblical icon of the Good Shepherd (Jn 10:11-18) sums up the mission that Jesus received from the Father: to give his life for the sheep. This attitude is a model for the Church, which welcomes her children as a mother who gives his life for them. “The Church is called to be always the open house of the Father […]” – Nothing behind closed doors! No doors closed! – “Anyone can participate in some way in the life of the Church, everyone can be part of the community. The Church […] is his father’s house where there is room for each one with their life’s challenges”(ibid., Evangelii Gaudium, n. 47).

Similarly, all Christians are called to imitate the Good Shepherd. Especially Christian families can collaborate with Him in taking care of wounded families, accompanying them in the faith life of the community. Each plays its part in taking the attitude of the Good Shepherd, who knows each of his sheep and excludes no one from his infinite love!{jcomments on}