17th Plenary Assembly of the CCBI on Family

Final Statement  

17th Plenary Assembly of the CCBI

Held at Ranchi from 4 to 8 March, 2005 to Families

 Aware of the vital importance of the family for the life of the Church and of society, we, the 102 bishops of various archdioceses and dioceses throughout India, gathered at Ranchi for the XVII Plenary Assembly of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI), reflected on the theme, “Family for Christ – Good News for India”.  At the conclusion of this meeting, we would like to address this Message to you, families.  We are more than ever convinced that the family, the `Domestic Church’, is God’s gift to the world, and, in particular, to India.  We recall the words of the Holy Father in his Apostolic Letter on the Family: “The future of humanity passes by way of the family” (Familiaris Consortio, no. 87).

 

We are filled with joy and hope that despite so many pressures and disintegrating factors, our families have remained remarkably stable.  In keeping with the Indian tradition, marriage is regarded as sacred and family ties remain strong.  There is an enduring spirituality, a great respect for parents and elders, a spirit of hospitality.  You, as parents, take care that your children are baptized and brought up in the faith.  We are grateful to the Family Movements and Associations which are helping families to live out their spirituality.  We feel that the contribution of India (and of Asia as a whole) to humanity is its firm belief in the sacredness of the family.

 

We are aware, of course, of the threats and challenges which you as families face today.  While the media has brought in benefits, it has also had a negative impact on family life.  Advertising has created a craving to possess more, what is often called ‘consumerism’ or ‘comfort culture’.  Various external factors have had adverse effects on the family such as poverty, migration, globalization, the dowry system, alcoholism, the low status of women in society, HIV/AIDS.  Within the family itself there are causes of stress amongst the couples.  We could mention the rushed pace of your life, and, in some cases, the long absence of one spouse due to work.  There is a growing anti-life attitude, also called ‘the culture of death’, which manifests itself in contraception, pre-marital sex, abortion and a trend towards euthanasia.

 

And yet, despite all these threats and challenges, so many of you have remained firm in your mission as a family.  You are aware that the family has its roots in the ‘Divine Family’: God is not a solitary being living in isolation, but a Trinity of persons, a communion of life and love.  For us Christians, marriage is a Sacrament, an intimate partnership of life and love established by the Creator for the good of the partners, of children and of society (The Church in the Modern World, no. 48).  The family is the cradle and protector of new life wherein children are regarded as God’s gift.  The family is not to remain closed in on itself; rather, it has to be a leaven in society, reaching out to other families, going beyond the barriers of social status and caste.  You have courageously struggled to live up to your vocation of loving each other as Jesus himself loves us (John 15:12).

 

On our part, as pastors, we want to support you in living up to the Christian ideal of marriage as vocation to life-long love and fidelity.  We commit ourselves to make the family apostolate an integral part of the pastoral planning of our dioceses, to strengthen family ministry and accompany families in their struggle to live up to this ideal.  We want to improve the marriage preparation courses and to offer facilities for marriage enrichment so that the Christian family “will show forth to all Christ’s loving presence in the world and the authentic nature of the Church” (The Church in the Modern World, no. 48).

 

We appeal to you – parents, children and all sectors of the Church – to live up to your mission as a Christian family, praying together, attending Church services together, and being at the service of the Church and society at large.  We ask God to protect and bless each of you.  We entrust our families to Mary our mother.  May the Holy Family make of our homes sanctuaries of peace, love and joy like the Home of Nazareth.

 

 

Press Release:

 

The Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI), at its XVIIth Plenary Assembly in Ranchi, having reflected on the theme of the Family, approved of a Message for Families.  This Message dwelt on the following:

 

  1. The Bishops are more than ever convinced that the family, is God’s gift to the world, and, in particular, to India. The words of the Holy Father in his Apostolic Exhortation on the Family are striking indeed: “The future of humanity passes by way of the family” (Familiaris Consortio, no. 86).

 

  1. The Bishops are filled with joy and hope as they realize that despite so many pressures and disintegrating factors, families have remained remarkably stable. In keeping with the Indian tradition, marriage is regarded as sacred and family ties remain strong.  There is an enduring spirituality, a great respect for parents and elders, a spirit of hospitality. The Bishops felt that the contribution of India (and of Asia as a whole) to humanity is its firm belief in the sacredness of the family.

 

  1. The Bishops are aware, of course, of the challenges which families face today. While the media has brought in benefits, it has also had a negative impact on family life.  Advertising has created a craving to possess more, what is often called ‘consumerism’.  Poverty, migration, globalization, the dowry system, alcoholism, the low status of women in society, HIV/AIDS and other factors have had adverse effects on the family.  Within the family itself there are causes of stress amongst the couples: the rushed pace of life, and, in some cases, the long absence of one spouse.  There is a growing anti-life attitude, ‘the culture of death’, which manifests itself in contraception, pre-marital sex, abortion and a trend towards euthanasia.

 

  1. On their part, as pastors, the Bishops expressed their desire to support families in living up to the ideal of marriage as a call to a life-long love and fidelity. The bishops have decided to improve the existing marriage preparation courses and to offer facilities for marriage enrichment.

 

  1. The family is the cradle and protector of new life wherein children are regarded as God’s gift. The family is not to remain closed in on itself; rather, it has to reach out to other families, going beyond the barriers of social status and caste.

 

 

 

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