An initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Bishop Paglia (Italy): the Family and the New Evangelization

For three weeks this October (7-28), bishops from around the world have been meeting in Rome for a Synod on the New Evangelization. During this time, bishops can give what’s called an “intervention,” which is a very short address on something related to the topic at hand, namely the New Evangelization. On October 15, Archbishop Emeritus Vincenzo Paglia, who is the President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, gave the following intervention. He explicitly linked marriage and the family with the New Evangelization, emphasizing that the family is not just the object (the recipient) of evangelization but also the subject (the actor) of evangelization, an entity called to evangelize in a unique and very needed way.

Archbishop Paglia’s intervention (emphasis added):

“In his opening homily, the Holy Father underlined: “Matrimony is a Gospel in itself, a Good News for the world of today” because it “is based upon the grace that comes from the triune God”. The union between man and woman speaks strongly about God. It is a Good News because it answers the rooted need for an inscribed family, from its origins, deep within man and woman. God said: “It is not right that the man should be alone. I shall make him a helper” (Gen 2:18). Man is nothing by himself: everything relies on inter-dependence. Yet, so much of Western history has been conceived as the liberation from any tie, even family ties. The explosion of the family seems like the number one problem of today’s society, even if few realize this. This does not hold true for the Church, truly an “expert in humanity”, as Paul VI said. We cannot be silent. And not because we are conservative or defenders of an obsolete institution. The stability itself of society is at stake. Of course, it is urgent, very urgent, for a more careful cultural reflection for the Family to become the center of politics, of economy, of culture, and a more attentive strategy to defend its rights on national and international levels.

“Another aspect must be underlined. While being a minority, there are many Christian families that live, even heroically, faithfulness and marital and familial commitment. This extraordinary light of love should be placed in the candelabra so that it may illuminate and warm this world of ours so saddened and blurred. The Church must become more the family of families, even the wounded ones, living a mutual movement of give and take. What is opened here is the broad spectrum of the family as the subject of evangelization. John Paul II asserted: “the future of evangelization largely depends on the domestic church”. Experience tells us that the Church attracts if it is truly [lived] in a familial way. And if we find pastoral infertility in so many corners of the world, isn’t it because we have become more of an institution than a family? Living the Church in a familial way and the family as a small church – is the challenge of a Church of Communion, the one hoped for by Vatican Council II – even today we will taste the joy of the first Christian community when “day by day the Lord added to their community those destined to be saved” (Act 2:47).”

Read it on the Vatican website

More about the New Evangelization on the USCCB website


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