The Christian family (Part 1)

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By Arnold Van Vugt

The Living Spirit

Thursday, July 24, 2014


IN October the Catholic Church will hold an extraordinary Synod on the Family. Theologians and ordinary church people are already discussing the issues that have to be presented to the Bishops for discussion during their meeting in Rome.

In the traditional teachings of the Church there are many issues which are subject to concern and criticism. For instance, there is still the ban on divorcees and remarried Catholics receiving Holy Communion.

And then there is the ban on birth control. On this last issue the Church promotes the natural method of family planning. I agree, this is still the best method ideally speaking. But we don’t live in an ideal world and not all couples are able to follow this method.

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I feel, the Church must be honest on this issue. By using the natural method the couple prevents conception. Why can’t they follow an artificial method of preventing conception?

It is true, there are contraceptives which are abortifacient, which cause an abortion. Of course, these contraceptives should be avoided. The critical issue here is: when does conception take place? Conception may take place when the sperm meets the egg, technically speaking. We are speaking here of intercourse which is supposed to be an act of love. And so you may question when the conception of a human being takes place. Only God knows.

In any case, the Church must show concern and understanding when it comes to the issue of procreation. Many poor couples live under pressure and experience has proven that the desire to have intercourse during infertile periods of the woman is much higher than when she is fertile.

Bishops and priests don’t have that experience but that is why they must show much more understanding for those couples, especially the poor couples among them who are constantly under pressure because of their situation of poverty.

Pope Paul VI says the Church is an evangelizer and as such it must show an increasing love for those whom she is evangelizing.

What is this love? It is much more than that of a teacher; it is the love of a father; and again, it is the love of a mother. It is this love that the Lord expects from every preacher of the Gospel, from every builder of the Church.

A sign of love will be the concern to give the truth and to bring people into unity. The economic stresses on family life are at least as significant in family breakdown as selfishness and materialism, which are sometimes blamed. The Church cannot turn a blind eye to the family tragedies which are increasing in society and no less in the Church itself. To these victims of misfortune, not necessarily of personal sin or of sin which has not been forgiven, the Church, both universal and local, must have a special healing ministry of consolation.

If priests cannot give this healing ministry of consolation, then it should be the basic Christian community that must develop among its members such a healing ministry. (To be continued)

[Email: nolvanvugt@gmail.com]

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 24, 2014.

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