In August 2018 Pope Francis will officiate at the World Meeting of Families during his pontifical visit to Ireland. It represents an opportunity to re-assess the Church’s understanding of Family Life and occurs as the first such meeting since the Synod on the Family. The nature of family is challenging, as Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin recognised in his homily for the Chrism Mass in Dublin in March 2018. Speaking of families he said:
“Children are brought up in different settings, by married couples, by grandparents, by single parents, by non-married couples, by separated couples, by gay and lesbian couples. This is a statement of fact not of ideology. The Church must work to help that all these children are loved and are introduced to an appreciation of the Gospel of love.”
In the same homily, Archbishop Martin reflected on the Church’s failures of the past. A failure to assist single mothers or the victims of abuse. He said:
“Where the Church failed families and children then the Church failed Jesus himself.”
In 2015 ACTA conducted a survey in support of the Synod on the Family and its Report [The Smell of the Sheep] was presented to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Amongst other areas, it identified the need for the Catholic Church to be more welcoming of those whose lifestyles did not conform to traditional patterns. Pope Francis in his exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, recognised the need for respecting the integrity of the person and persisting in dialogue to understand difference:
“The combination of two different ways of thinking can lead to a synthesis that enriches both. The unity that we seek is not uniformity, but a “unity in diversity”, or “reconciled diversity”
ACTA’s Mission Statement commits us to supporting respectful dialogue in helping to build God’s Kingdom on Earth. In advance of the World Meeting of Families 2018 we call for a tolerant and respectful understanding of all those who work for supporting families in all their diversity. We look to the leaders of the Catholic Church to present an inclusive and tolerant vision of family for the world. , recognising that all loving relationships are reflections of God’s love for humanity. Such a gesture of welcome would be an effective sign of an inclusive Church accompanying all people who seek to grow in faith and develop their relationship with God and the Church through their love and support of each other.
Before the start of the World Meeting of Families 2018, ACTA pledges the support of its members to working for a Church that encourages a respectful dialogue. From this, a more tolerant and truly Christian attitude towards all should be evident, taking no heed of creed, colour or orientation.
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Download statement here >>> Statement from ACTA on the Forthcoming World Meeting of Families 2018, Ireland