The family: workshop and training ground for humanity

Monday, 08 June 2015, 13:48
Meeting of Eastern Catholic bishops 2015 Prague - Břevnov, Czech Republic, 4-7 June 2015
 
The “yes” of the Eastern Catholic Churches to the “family”, the situation in Ukraine and of the Churches of Central-Eastern Europe in relations with civil society were the focus of the meeting of the Eastern Catholic bishops of the continent. In Prague more than 40 Eastern Catholic bishops prepared for the Synod on the Family. 
 
The annual meeting of the Eastern Catholic hierarchs of Europe took place this year in Prague (Czech Republic) at the invitation of His Lordship Mgr Ladislav Hučko, Apostolic Exarch for Byzantine Rite Catholics resident in the Czech Republic.
 
In Prague, more than 40 Eastern Catholic bishops in Europe met to examine in depth the relationships of friendship and unity among the continent’s Eastern Catholic episcopate, through the exchange of information about the life of the respective churches at the national level and about the sensitive relations between Church and civil society and with the other Christian churches. The meeting was also an opportunity to prepare for the Synod of Bishops on the family next October. It was precisely the family, its sacramental nature and the challenges laid before it by a rapidly-changing society, which was the object of reflection and examination. From the discusssions it emerged that:
 
The whole of the Catholic Church, and especially its expression of a more Eastern tradition represented by the continent’s Eastern Catholic Churches, gives its yes to the family, the fundamental cell of human society where every person becomes more and more him / herself, not just as a place of cultural and intellectual growth, of emotional and social growth, but above all as a place where God’s plan for every person is accomplished. The family, the domestic Church spoken of by Saint John Chrysostom and repeated by the Second Vatican Council, as workshop and training ground for humanity, is not just the place where the transmission of faith happens, but where the fundamental principles of living together are learned. In it each person is called to give him / herself and to accept the other, growing in mutual love. Husbands and wives, parents and children, brothers and sisters are called to love each other: everyone in the family has a unique and important role.
The Eastern Catholic Church says its yes to the family because in the dark moments of history in numerous countries of Central Eastern Europe it was families which kept alive the freedom of the human person, the various national identities, their rich cultural and spiritual heritage. It was Christian families which kept alive faith in God and hope in a better future.
Precisely for this, in preparation for the Synod of Bishops, confirming the priority of the family in the ordinary pastoral work of the respective churches, the episcopal participants at the meeting were committed to promoting an evermore careful preparation for the sacrament of matrimony, so that husband and wife, with the strength of grace, might generate a true communion of life welcoming children and educating them. They committed themselves to spiritually accompanying and guiding families; to supporting and promoting the communities of families, parishes which, with the help of the respective priests, too, seek to continue and witness to the beauty of being, in the image of God, a communion of people.
Their yes to the family leads them to be close to all families, especially those experiencing times of crisis or difficulties, poor families, the needy who feel excluded by society. If every person needs to be loved and helped, it is the family, the privilged place, where that happens, but – the bishops said in Prague – the Church is and always will be beside them, ready to reach out the hand of friendship, to show a neighbourly and compassionate face, bringing the comfort and mercy of God.
In times of great vulnerability and major moral, economic and social crisis, we hope that Governments may become evermore aware of the important role of the social and educative cohesion of the family so that it might legislate on its behalf, on work and on migration.
 
The situation in Ukraine

In the face of the on-going situation of external aggression in the east of the country, the participants demonstrated their solidarity with the people of Ukraine, above all the Greek Catholics, exhorting them to pursue the path of dialogue and unity between the country’s Christian churches which a particular attitude of misinformation – especially at the international level – aims to undermine. At this dramatic moment in the country’s history, all the churches are committed to supporting the difficult path of the rebuilding of social cohesion first of all through a path of conversion, the only weapon in the face of those who think of corruption as the only controlling principle of society. Faced with the greatest humanitarian disaster since the fall of the totalitarian regime, His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halyč, thanked his confrères for the prayers and spiritual closeness of the sister churches, and recalled the generosity of the various national Caritas organisations, calling for a renewed solidarity of the international community: hunger and poverty do not take holidays!
 
The Catholic Church in South-East Europe 
Of particular concern is a too “discretionary” attitude – bordering on discrimination – of numerous local administrations which seem to want to attack the Catholic Church under the administrative, economic and financial profile. While the participants recognised the need of the national and local churches to work for an ever greater transparency in the management of their finances and go along with the managmement models in force in their respective countries, in the face of the various attempts to discredit the Church in this field and having ascertained the groundlessness of the accusations in the cases reported at the meeting, the participants called on those responsible to enfore justice to act with impartiality and on the basis of a right which must be equal for everyone.
During the meeting, the participants met His Eminence Cardinal Dominik Duka OP, Archbishop of Prague, for a friendly discussion about the challenges of the new evangelisation of the Church in the Czech Republic, a country shaped by profound Christian roots, an inheritance sadly often unrecognised.
 
The meeting also saw a presentation by the local Exarch, His Lordship Mgr Ladislav Hučko, on the history and the current challenges of the Greek-Catholic Church in the Czech Republic.
 
Participants at the meeting, facilitated by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE), included His Grace Mgr Giuseppe Leanza, Apostolic Nuncio to the Czech Republic; His Grace Mgr Cyril Vasil’, Archbishop Secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches who brought greetings from the Prefect of the Vatican dicastery, His Eminence Cardinal Leonardo Sandri. Also participating wereFr Lorenzo Lorusso OP, Under-secretary of the aforesaid Vatican Congregation, andMgr Duarte da Cunha, CCEE General Secretary, who brought greetings from the President of the continential episcopal body, His Eminence Cardinal Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest.
 
The 2016 meeting will take in Fatima (Portugal) in October.

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