Families' Responses Published

22 September 2015
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Category: News
22 September 2015, Comments: Comments Off on Families’ Responses Published
Cardinal Vincent speaking to journalists

Cardinal Vincent speaking to journalists

Cardinal Vincent Nichols said today that he was “humbled” by the responses from families in England and Wales to the bishops’ pre-synod reflection process: The Call, The Journey, The Mission.  A 28-page report published today gives a flavour of what families said about their joys and hopes, struggles and fears in marriage and family life, marriage as a vocation and source of enrichment, and the role of the family as salt and light. It reflects too many other comments that people wished to express to the bishops about marriage and family life. Read the full report here

Joys: “Love and closeness to partner. Having children together and seeing them grow. Bringing children up together. Celebrating family occasions together. Sharing happy times. Helping each other through difficult times (which can often bring you closer). Sharing family time with each other’s parents, siblings and extended family. Learning to accept each other’s weaknesses and foibles.”

Struggles: “Pressures on families for economic survival are very hard, partly because more is expected in the way of material standards of living, and partly because they no longer enjoy the same job security as we did. This means the pressures on both parents to earn a living are intense; at the same time expectations of the role and importance of parenting have increased. It is hard to do all this and have time for reflection and personal relationships as a couple. At the same time, the strict and often repressive code of sexual morality under which we grew up is almost unknown in contemporary society. That makes it harder for some to remain faithful to their vows.”

Marriage as a Vocation: “No amount of writing, teaching or preaching can replace the witness of families in action: to their own family members and to those in the world in which they live. Therefore, if this is important to the Church (and it must be) family life and the role of lay people following this vocation must be more central. Far more married, lay people should be engaged in decision-making and leadership roles, for example.”

How Does Your Marriage Enrich You? “My late husband was known as “Jesus” in two of his work places (factories). One of his work mates rang me a little while ago and said, “I wanted him to be alive as long as I was alive. I thought he was Jesus. I’m serious – if Jesus was alive and walking around now, he’d make you feel the way Colin made you feel.” That man is not religious and has been brought up not to celebrate Christmas. The knowledge that such a man as my husband chose me to share his life helps me to make sense of Jesus’s love for me. I am worth something – I must be, in spite of how it feels sometimes. That keeps me going and helps me believe in my dignity. I am trying to live so as to make him proud of me. In my way, with my different character, I try to do for others what he did – what Jesus did.”

How Does Your Family Life Enrich Others? “Support, caring, friendship, a community, not taking ourselves too seriously, are all part of the importance of family life. Being part of a loving family helps us find our place in the world and understand what it is to truly love.”

How is Your Family Salt and Light?  “Salt: as Christians, we provide an added dimension of richness and depth of thought to issues on abortion, justice for all, as people of Hope through our Lord Jesus Christ. Light: as Christians through friendliness, approachability, assistance, a shoulder to lean on, as someone who will support you in your worries through prayer, as someone who will believe in second chances, as someone who believes that at heart, we are all members of Christ’s family.”

Other Comments:

“Without my faith I couldn’t get out of bed each morning. After years of questioning, reading, doubting, searching it has become a very simple thing. I believe in the historical and divine person of Jesus Christ. I believe he died to redeem humankind. I believe he left us the Gospels as an example of how to live lives of unconditional love and service. I believe he left us the Eucharist to strengthen us in order to do that. I believe in the resurrection. I find much of the rest of the dogma, doctrine, strictures, and attitudes displayed by the Church deeply unsettling and detract from, rather that support, my faith. I would describe myself as a person of faith rather than of religion and have always tried to communicate this to my children and extended family.”

“This survey does not seem to address directly many of the concerns expressed by Catholics (whether in my own diocese, England and Wales or most of the “West”) in response to the earlier survey. Unless the Church is prepared to face up to and address those concerns honestly and constructively rather than pretending that if we just go on preaching an unrealistic vision of perfection all will be well, it will fail to minister to its own faithful, never mind being an effective evangelising force in the world. This means facing up to and dealing with the often rather messy realities of human behaviour and relationships as well as reflecting on how we would all ideally like to live. This is both difficult because it requires humility and challenging because there are no easy answers. It could also be immensely rewarding and fruitful.”

“This survey could have been better designed, though it’s an improvement on the last one. It also assumes that the people completing it are in an ‘orthodox’ marriage, despite offering the ‘single’ and ‘cohabiting’ option. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to do this. We hope that you will use the responses in a fair and honest way, reflecting all views, and I sincerely pray that the Holy Spirit is really working in the Church today, to create real conversion of heart so that the haemorrhage can be stopped, and we can once more be a truly Catholic church – a home for everyone.”

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