Francis Focuses on Family Formation Over Family Illiteracy

Good news!

Putting Families First at Top of Pope’s Curia Reform Agenda

Halfway through their meetings, Pope Francis and his council of cardinals have addressed many different themes, but the formation and care of families is a top priority in upcoming discussions.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi revealed in an Oct. 2 press briefing that, so far, the council has reflected on the ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council and the upcoming Synod of Bishops.

But Father Lombardi said that the pastoral care of families is the next major point of discussion in upcoming sessions.

So good that the care and formation of family is a priority for the Cardinals and the Holy Father. When I read this, my first thought was to Mary Eberstadt’s excellent book How the West Really Lost God, which I wrote about here:

Eberstadt argues that the sharp decline in religious belief (and the waning influence of the churches) in the Western world is related directly to the decline of the traditional family.

The Christian story itself is a story told through the prism of the family. Take away the prism, and the story makes less sense. We men and women, whether inside the churches or not, are only at the beginning of understanding how the fracturing of the natural family has in turn helped to fracture Christianity.

Citing a study conducted with over 1,400 children of divorced parents, Eberstadt excerpts an interview in which a young man, asked if God is like a parent, mush-mouths his way through a puzzled response and then gives up, admitting, “I’m drawing a blank. I’m just drawing a blank.”

Family illiteracy, Eberstadt says, “breeds religious illiteracy.”

It’s a fine book. And a really fine, pastoral priority for the church; I’m glad it is being identified as such. I can’t help thinking that this falls right in line with what Pope Francis said to Eugenio Scalfari in his recent interview in La Repubblica:

“The most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old. The old need care and companionship; the young need work and hope but have neither one nor the other, and the worst is that they don’t even look for them any more. They are being crushed by the present. You tell me: can you live when you are being crushed by the present? Without a memory of the past and without the will to go forward into the future to build something, a future, a family? Can you go on like this? This, I think, is the most urgent problem that the Church is facing.”

Unemployed youths feeling isolated — without a sense of past, of belonging, of knowing who they are and where they are loved unconditionally; old people with only the past to remember as they suffer in present loneliness. These are things directly related to the formation of the family; they speak directly to the spiritual destitution that follows the dissolution of the family, which curries evil.

This is good and necessary.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • sharinite

    Sorry Francis, but one without the intimacy of the other destroys both!

  • Renee

    When I read the line about the elderly being poor and the young being unemployed, it reminded me of Ziggy Marley’s Tomorrow People. “Tomorrow people, where is your past? Tomorrow people, how long will you last?”

    What is sad when I see children in foster care, that there is no kinship resource because the family is so fractured that no one from the family can take in the child. We look at both maternal and paternal sides for resources.

    At least birth families have access. At times even when children in foster care are taken well care of, through adoption/guardianship they worry very much about their parents. We always try to ensure that the parents get help and if the situation allows it to make sure they get regular visits.

  • Lisa Schmidt

    And the World Meeting of Families will be held in Philly in September 2015. Come, Holy Spirit.

  • Charlie B

    The American bishops, dating back to 1978, have published several plans and documents about marriage and family. Even though Catholic divorce rates trail @10% behind national averages, that is still too high. We continue to (rightly) be against all kinds of attacks on life and love, but only being against something and not taking action to raise up positive witness to the Gospel is to be a noisy gong clanging. The World Meeting of Families will look nice, sound nice, but unless it calls for a reform of parish ministry to make m&f life a central, permanent, developmental and evangelizing priority, our domestic landscape will only get worse. John Paul II understood this. Sounds like Francis does as well.
    Unless and until our leaders take action to strengthen marriage & family across the life cycle (as per Familiaris consortio, nos. 65-70), we will still have overworked tribunals and few authentic conjugal or celibate vocations. Meanwhile the evangelization of the domestic church by Hollywood, Wall Street, MTV, Madison Ave and the info-tainment industry (a la Miley Cyrus, the latest liberated slave) continues unabated. Our inaction is a collusion with this onslaught. Its not a matter of pronouncing correct doctrine. It will require becoming a “field hospital”, to quote Pope Francis, and (re-) creating ministry structures over time to raise up healthy, happy, on-the-path to holiness couples, parents and families.
    Sadly, I doubt church leaders at any level wish to do this. It will be hard, and will meet with much resistance. Ironically, it would be in the church’s self-interest, since happy, stable Christian couples contribute substantially to the Sunday collection, thus funding ministries and seminary education.

  • Victor

    Come Holy Spirit.

    If He exist Lisa, I believe that He’s here now!

    Long story short, this post I think is about the family and I could write a novel if that’s three books? :(
    Anyway longer story shorter, I believe that there’s good in every bad adventures that we’ve all lived backward but if we truly trust in GOD (Good Old Dad) why won’t we all make “IT” in “Time”? Right Anchoress!!!!! :)
    God Bless Peace