Vugt: The Christian family (Part 2)

FOR a smooth family life it is important that husband and wife and also their children have a good understanding of themselves, their strengths and weaknesses.

The ancient Greeks had an inscription over the entrance to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi which said: tao gnoti seouton, which means: “Man know yourself.” These are wise words indeed. We spent the whole of our lives struggling to understand who we really are.

Through self-awareness we may understand our own gifts but also our own limitations. The psychologist Carl Jung has developed the theory of different psychological types of behavior. It helps to explain some of the differences in people’s behavior. You have extroverts and introverts, you have people who are guided by intuition, others who are more of a thinker or a feeler, a judge or a perceiver. All of them act differently and it is important to have a good understanding of these differences. This is important also for a smooth family relationship.

I myself experienced many family problems that require a good family counselor who can help us understand our problems and solve them. I have six adopted children, who all got a trauma from the fact that they lost their father at a very young age.

The trauma formed an obstacle to them for maturing. Some have not properly matured up to this time. My eldest son got another trauma when his wife left him and got children from another man.

In the meantime, he himself found another woman who had already a child and is now expecting another child that comes from him. How do you solve these problems?

The Church offers some solutions which are only legalistic in nature. Of course, first of all there is a need of prayer; the family has to pray together in order to stay together.

My son can get a legal separation from his wife so that he is free to marry the woman he has impregnated. The Church can give an annulment of their first marriage but that is very difficult to get. I am proposing a legal separation and then they get married in the Church. If the priest won’t allow that then they can go to another Christian Church.

After all, it is not the Church that gives the sacrament of marriage. The couple themselves gives the sacrament to each other while the Christian community is a witness that their marriage promises are sincere.

I remember, I myself got married to my wife before a judge. After 25 years, we celebrated our silver wedding anniversary in the Church in the presence of my Carmelite brothers and the Christian community of our parish. There we officially renewed our marital vows.

As a former priest, I know that I can take these decisions and they are valid. But how about the ordinary Christians who are confronted with similar problems in their family?

There must be a parish pastoral council (PPC) that is well informed about these issues and can give people counseling on these problems.

I believe, at the forthcoming Synod on the Family in Rome the Pope should be surrounding himself not only with 150 celibate males but also with wise men and women who are tried and tested as both spouses and parents. I hope the Pope will learn this from the past.

The Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro held a press conference on the problem of teenage pregnancies under the theme ‘We do not walk our talk’ (Sun.Star July 15, 2014).

I agree with what is said there except for the fact that no mention is made of the problem that there are priests in the Archdiocese who have begotten a child by a woman.

Why do these priests not leave the priesthood, marry their woman and then become real fathers to children they have begotten. In this respect they should walk their talk too.


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