“The issues of marriage and family ought to be even more present in the pastoral care,” said Bishop WiesławŚmigiel, the chairman of the Council for the Family of the Polish Bishops’ Conference. Its meeting took place on Friday, 21 January, in Warsaw. The main topics included preparation for the closing of the Year “Amoris Laetitia Family” and accompanying persons in unregulated situations.
Bishop Śmigiel, speaking after the session, stressed the importance of pastoral care of marriages and families. He noted that all topics addressed in the Church overlap with the theme of marriage and family. He mentioned the area of catechesis as an example. “If we speak of catechesis, it is difficult to talk about it in isolation from marriage and family life. The catechesis that only takes place at school or just in the parish environment, or at school and in the parish environment, but not in its basic, natural dimension – in marriage and family, will bear less fruit than catechesis, which comes out of the family environment,” he said. He added that the parish and school play merely an auxiliary role in the implementation of educational tasks that are characteristic of marriage and the family.
The meeting of the Council for the Family, chaired by Bishop WiesławŚmigel, was held at the conference center of Caritas Polska at Okopowa Street in Warsaw. One of the main topics of the meeting was the preparation for the closing of the Year of“Amoris Laetitia Family”, which will take place from June 22 to 26 this year. As Bishop Śmigiel informed, a special delegation consisting of bishops and priests, but most of all married couples, will go to Rome to meet with the Holy Father. At the same time, the end of the Year of the Family will be celebrated in the dioceses. “It is meant to be a celebration of marriages and families in the dioceses,” said the chairman of the Council for the Family of the Polish Bishops’ Conference.
Bishop Śmigiel reported that the Council members discussed what materials can help in celebrating the end of the Year of the Family, as well as the preparation of materials for the next pastoral year entitled. “I believe in the Church of Christ”, which would be addressed not only to priests but also to families.
The participants of the meeting also listened to two presentations. The first, entitled “Accompanying People in Unregulated Situations – from FamiliarisConsortio to Amoris Laetitia” was delivered by Father Jacek Goleń, professor at the Catholic University of Lublin. “Both John Paul II and Francis strongly emphasize that the pastoral care of the Church should be extended to the horizons of the Heart of Jesus, that is, open to people with problems first and foremost,” Fr. Goleń emphasized, referring to the documents of both popes. He also said that the Church as a tender and good mother should accompany people in difficult situations in such a way that they feel accepted in the situation they are in. The content of Fr. Goleń’s speech referred, among other things, to the book “The Way of Mercy and Integration in the Exhortation Amorislaetitia” published in 2021 by the Scientific Society of the Catholic University of Lublin.
The second of the speeches concerned the difficult bioethical issues of marriage and family life. They were reviewed by Father Andrzej Muszala, PhD, the head of the bioethics advisory center at the Pontifical Universityof John Paul II in Krakow. He stressed that there are no easy solutions when it comes to bioethical issues, especially if the spouses have different opinions on a given topic. “The most important thing is to help a person,” he stressed. He acknowledged that although the norms are clear, it often takes many conversations and patient accompaniment to help spouses be together.
The meeting of the Council for the Family was attended by Bishop WiesławŚmigiel, Bishop Damian Bryl, Bishop Romuald Kamiński, Bishop Józef Wróbel, and consultants of the Council.
The task of the Council for the Family is “care for the family and for its rights, promotion of the dignity of the family and woman, care for children, protection of conceived life” and related matters. “The Council, within the framework determined by the Plenary Assembly of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, studies the problems belonging to its scope of action, takes initiatives and develops pastoral materials and draft documents. When necessary, the Council gives its opinion on matters related to its competence sent by the President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference or its Secretariat and assists them in resolving them.”
Translation: Sr. Amata J. Nowaszewska / Office for Foreign Communication of the Polish Bishops’ Conference