Cardinal Jose Advincula of Manila stressed the important role of the family in Church and in society at the ongoing general conference of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences in Thailand.
“The family is not only the seedbed of vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life, but also to the lay ministries,” said the prelate in a homily this week.
He said the “Gospel injunction” to pray for laborers and for the harvest brings to mind the role of the family, which is “one of the lessons we learned in the diocesan phase of the Synod on Synodality.”
The Filipino cardinal shared that despite the shortage of priests in the country, basic ecclesial communities that are led by lay people are very active.
He cited various programs — education, investments, politics, peace-building, and care for the environment — that are being successfully implemented by lay people.
“Prayerfulness and discernment, communion and compassion, honesty and transparency — like charity — begin at home,” said Cardinal Advincula at the FABC general conference.
On Wednesday, October 19, the gathering of Church leaders talked about “the challenges of the family today, and how the Church in Asia can respond creatively for the pastoral care of families.”
Among those who shared their views were Daniel and Shelley Ee, members of the Worldwide Marriage Encounter Leadership Team and the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life.
They spoke on the “values of family life, its challenges, and the married couple as the heart of the family.”
The couple proposed steps to improve the pastoral care of families, such as the enhancement of formation and training and other activities that celebrate and enhance family life, among others.
Michael Phichit and Lucia Achara Sukeewat of the Christian Family Movement in Thailand discussed the challenges families face — “social biases, the degradation of relationships between generations, and the myriad challenges of financial insecurity.”
They stressed the importance of the recognition of the Church of the “interconnect” between these challenges, adding that “as a Church and family, we have to admit that we need healing, before we can improve.”
Speaking on the “opportunities” that the encyclical Amoris Laetitia offers the Church in Asia, Bishop John Baptist Lee Keh-mien of Hsinchu, president of the Chinese Regional Bishops’ Conference, talked of the “real and ever-changing challenges to marriage.”
Pablito Baybado Jr., a theology professor at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, talked of the importance of formation that values family integrity, and the need for formators who are “sensitive to current realities and capable of accompanying the people.”
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