| Year 1995 Canonical Studies, PP. 7-36
FAMILY, THE DOMESTIC CHURCH, SOME CANONICAL AND PASTORAL REFLECTIONS
(Fr. A. Mendonca )
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After a brief Introduction, the paper has the following sections: 1. Family, the basic “cell” of society; 2. Family, the “domestic church”; 3. Ecclesial mission of the family; 3.1. Mission of evangelization; 3.2. Mission of sanctification; 3.3. Mission of service; 3.4. Pastoral care of the family, and Conclusion.

INTRODUCTION

On 9 June 1994, right in the middle of the United Nations-sponsored International Year of the Family, the legislature of the Province of Ontario, Canada, witnesses an intense and highly emotional debate on the government’s Bill 167 which would have redefined the very notion of the “family”, an institution long viewed as the cornerstone of society, and the passage of the Bill would have extended to lesbian and gay couples the same rights as heterosexuals, including the right to such spousal benefits as pension and the right to adopt children. The Bill, which was defeated by a vote of 68 to 59, certainly raised the nation’s awareness in regard to the current trends which are influencing and reshaping the very fabric of its moral and social life. There is no doubt that a predominantly secular culture characterized by individualism and indifferentism is slowly eroding the system of values traditionally esteemed as sacrosanct. The very fact that a democratically elected government and a significant number of legislators supported the Bill itself indicates where certain cultures and societies stand in terms of passing on those vital traditional values to our future generations.

It was in reference to this type of development that Pope John Paul II in his Letter to Families says: “Unfortunately various programmes backed by very powerful resources nowadays seem to aim at the breakdown of the family. At times it appears that concerted efforts are being made to present as ‘normal’ and attractive, and even to glamorize, situations which are in fact ‘irregular’. Indeed, they contradict the ‘truth of love’ which should inspire and guide relationships between men and women, thus causing tensions and divisions in families, with grave consequences particularly for children. The moral conscience becomes darkened; what is true, good and beautiful is deformed; and freedom is replaced by what is actually enslavement.” We should not take this statement of the Holy Father as applicable only to western culture. We all are painfully aware of the inroads such trends are making in our own culture.

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