A press conference took place this morning to present the Year “Amoris Laetitia Family,” which will begin the online event “Our Daily Love” on March 19 and will end on June 26, 2022, with the 10th World Meeting of Families in Rome.
Intervening at the presentation, which was held at 11:30 am on Thursday, March 18, 2021, in the Holy See Press Office, live via streaming were Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family, and Life; Professor Gabriella Gambino, Under-Secretary of the same, and Italian spouses Valentina and Leonardo Nepi.
The Family in the Pandemic
Monsignor Farrell began his intervention encouraging not to be paralyzed in face of the concern generated by the pandemic. “We, Christians, are called to be witnesses of hope,” and he quoted the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia to point out that it “is very opportune to dedicate a whole pastoral year to the Christian family because to present to the world God’s plan for the family is a source of joy and hope.”
After saying that it was “providential” that Pope Francis dedicated this year to Saint Joseph, Monsignor explained that, in face of the very painful consequences for millions of people,” which the health crisis has had, it’s “precisely the family, although harshly punished in many aspects, that has shown once again its face as ‘custodian of life,’ as Saint Joseph was the custodian.”
The opportunity of the Year “Amoris Laetitia Family”
The Cardinal pointed out that it’s an “excellent opportunity to allow the fruits of this path to mature, not only in the different ecclesial contexts, but in families themselves” and “to present better to all, the richness of the Exhortation, which has words of encouragement, stimulation, reflection and, in broader terms, contains suggestions of pastoral paths, also practical, which we must not let fall into the void.”
“Families need pastoral care, they need dedication” and they need help “to discover in life’s sufferings the place of Christ’s presence and of His merciful love,” he said. Thus this year, he continued, is an “opportunity to get close to families, so that they don’t feel alone in face of the difficulties, to walk with them, to listen to them and to undertake pastoral initiatives that help them cultivate their daily love.”
The Dicastery’s Prefect affirmed that the Pontiff exhorts a pastoral renewal according to three aspects: the first is “the necessity of greater collaboration,” namely, “to learn to share the experiences that have been fruitful in the course of the years and that have succeeded in taking the proclamation of the Gospel to the life of spouses and families.”
The second is a change of mentality. “To stop thinking of families as mere ‘objects’ of the pastoral, and to think of them as ‘subjects’ of the pastoral’ that “live their faith and their vocation to marriage and the family in an exemplary way.” The third aspect is “the necessity to promote the formation of all those that will carry out a pastoral endeavor with families, beginning with future pastors — from the Seminary — to the laity and families that will dedicate themselves to this apostolate.”
Time to Act
For her part, Professor Gambino expressed her conviction that this Year is the “occasion to give impulse to the family pastoral, trying to renew the methods, the strategies and perhaps even some objectives of pastoral planning,” which is ”able to reinvigorate the beauty of the Sacrament of Marriage and of Christian families” and “make this beauty perceptible to the eyes of children and young people, so that they feel attracted by the gift of marriage.”
She holds that the papal Document “contains pastoral strategies and suggestions that we can read between the lines with intelligence and pastoral creativity,” and, therefore, that this Year Amoris Laetitia must be read as a ‘whole’ and value all the spiritual and pastoral aspects that the Document contains, to which, perhaps, little importance has been given and which are the ones that most interest the great majority of families.”
The Under-Secretary also reported on the 12 itineraries proposed by the Dicastery, “so that each ecclesial reality feels stimulated to take the initiative at least in some realms of the family pastoral.” Initiatives, she stressed, elaborated “from the concrete needs that arise from the family pastoral worldwide and with the look of the Apostolic Exhortation.
She also explained the Dicastery’s participation in the “spread of some pastoral instruments for families, parishes and dioceses, in order to help and support the work, sometimes very laborious, of the local Churches”: resources and small pastoral tools on the Web in a periodic way, videos on Francis’ Document, pastoral aids . . .
Conjugal and Family Love
Valentina and Leonardo Nepi highlighted the words “permission,” “thank you,” and “excuse me” as key for the relationship between members of a family and, especially, of the spouses, which is “guarded from words and gestures that are apparently simple but which, however, spring from profound attitudes of openness, respect, patience, trust, exchange, and forgiveness.”
They also described this Year as “a propitious time to cultivate good conjugal and family relations,” and expressed their hope that “the family can be more valued in society,” promoting its social dimension, its capacity for the education of the children and other aspects.
The Family’s Ecclesial Mission
The Italian spouses clarified that “The family’s strength isn’t exhausted in the intimacy of our homes, given that it’s a source of positive values for the whole community.” “We trust that this year will be, as well, a propitious time to become aware of our ecclesial mission, to which we dedicate ourselves as a family and not only at the personal level.”
“Baptism and Marriage make us living witnesses of God’s love, to whose call we have responded with joy and courage. Therefore, the hope is that, as families, we will feel committed to contribute to evangelization and involve ourselves with generosity in the Christian proclamation. We are the living witnesses of the beauty that the family can express,” they added.
Family and Youth Pastoral
Valentina and Leonardo said that this proclamation must reach young people and those discerning their vocation. “In fact, the seeds of this proclamation are sown by young people and it’s important that the family and youth pastoral are closely linked.”
“When we were adolescents it was important to see engaged and young married couples who dedicated their time to us freely, animated by a strong sense of Christian community.” “Following this example, later we also involved ourselves in the animation for Confirmation, sharing the beauty and responsibility to motivate a group of adolescents directed by the parish priest,” they continued.
“When we recall those years of youth engagement in the parish, we cannot but think that they were also years of formation for marriage, open dialogue, the management of shared responsibilities, and the surmounting of crises, that is, for our own construction based on mutual knowledge and God’s help,” they concluded.