Bangalore: Some 178 Catholic bishops who have responded to the challenges facing the Indian Church during an eight-day Episcopal conference have identified “declining family values” as one of them.
A statement issued at the end of the 32nd plenary assembly of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) says tensions and break ups in families, increasing number of divorces, abortion, and a lack of understanding of marriage as a sacrament are causes for concern.
Quoting Vatican documents, the statement noted that “the well-being of the Church and society at large is intimately linked with the nurturing of the family.”
The bishops recollected the two recent Synods of bishops in Rome, which have drawn attention to the urgency of providing sustained pastoral care to families.
Addressing the October 23, 2015 Synod on the family, Pope Francis had stressed the importance of the institution of the family and of marriage between a man and a woman, based on unity and indissolubility, and valuing it as the fundamental basis of society and human life.
The statement highlighted the importance of family visits of parish priests.
Organizing marriage encounters and marriage enrichment programs, setting up family counseling centers and diocesan family commissions, training seminarians and priests to become family counselors, promoting family values, family prayer, family meals, family outing and using the Bible sharing methods through Small Christian Communities were proposals made by the CBCI.
The plenary felt issues related to human sexuality, prevalence of pornography and marital infidelity in society are also responsible for weakening of the family.
The creation of facilities for care for the elderly, and respecting and learning from them were also recommended in the six-page statement meant for wider circulation and discussion in churches across the country.
The CBCI is the apex body of heads of 171 dioceses along with auxiliary and retired bishops from Latin, Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malabar Rites that make up the Catholic Church in India.