Guest writersRoberto Esteban Duque

Celebrating "Amoris laetitia" to rethink the family

The Year Amoris Laetitia convoked by the Pope is marked by the great challenges facing the institution of the family in today's society.

March 12, 2021-Reading time: 4 minutes

Photo. Sarah Medina / Unsplash

March 19 is the day chosen by the pope Francisco for the inauguration of the Year "Amoris Laetitia Family".The event was held on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the publication of his Apostolic Exhortation and with the aim of rethinking the content of a common reality such as the family.

It is likely, says the journalist David BrooksWe are going through the most rapid change in family structure in the history of mankind. The causes are economic, cultural and institutional at the same time. We place too much value on privacy and individual freedom. We want stability and rootedness, but also mobility and freedom to adopt the lifestyle of our choice. We want close families, but not the legal, cultural and sociological constraints that made them possible. We grope for a new family paradigm, but in the meantime confusion and ambivalence reign.

Family challenges

Among the "challenges facing families", Francis denounces in his Encyclical the "culture of the temporary", manifested in "the speed with which people move from one affective relationship to another", the unequivocal result of a "culture of the temporary". deinstitutionalization of the family, of a greater increase in autonomy, of the search for personal fulfillment and satisfaction. This would be a scenario of multiplication of family itinerariesThe transits, where a person goes from courtship to cohabitation, back to courtship and getting married, having children, separating and getting divorced, living only with the children, going back to cohabitation with a new partner and the children of both, ad infinitum.  

To the denunciation of the precariousness of family ties, the Pope will add his uneasiness about the "various forms of an ideology generically called "the ideology of the family". genderThe background of such a gender ideology is to be found in the "gender ideology", which seeks to "impose itself as a single thought that determines even the education of children". The antecedent of such a gender ideology can be found in Emilio from Rousseauin which the education of children is carried out "in the absence of any organic relationship between husbands and wives, and between parents and children", creating for the state of the soul of the students what Allan Bloom in The closure of the modern mind will be called the psychology of separation, the peculiar isolation where each one develops his own little separate system. Divorce will be the logical term and the most visible sign of our growing separation.

In "Amoris Laetitia", Francis will also address the need for a father and a mother in every family, stressing the importance of the difference: "the clear and well-defined presence of the two figures, feminine and masculine, creates the most suitable environment for the maturation of the child". The Pope openly rejects gender feminism: "I value feminism when it does not seek uniformity or the denial of motherhood". In reality, gender ideology does not defend diversity but uniformity that eliminates the role of the mother, motherhood understood as a condition prior to culture, society or political ideas. Gender feminism upholds the subversion of identity ("identity is chosen"), advocates freedom detached from truth, eliminates the distinction between the sexes, and eliminates masculinity and femininity as signs of nature and places them in a cultural indeterminacy. The constructivist discourse, or cultural and moral relativism, has its genesis in Comtefor whom the social is the category in which all others acquire meaning and concreteness: everything (actions, relations, forms of relationship) is legitimate if it is "constructed" socially.

The Pope also warns against the propaganda of "safe sex," a lifestyle that "conveys a negative attitude toward the natural procreative purpose of sexuality." The widespread use of contraceptives has brought with it four results that Paul VI in the encyclical Humanae VitaeIn other words, what has happened over the last 50 years are the consequences of the dissociation of love, marriage, sex and procreation from love, marriage, sex and procreation. In other words, what has happened in the last 50 years are the consequences of the dissociation between love, marriage, sex and procreation.

A thorny chapter will allow Francis to suggest that in situations of cohabitation, civil marriage only or divorced couples, realism imposes "accompanying, discerning and integrating", so that people in these cases "overcome their deficiencies and participate in the life of the Church". As for the possibility of communion for remarried divorcees, Francis will insist, without offering any new discipline, on offering everyone God's mercy and treating each case carefully. The Pope will say that not every person in one of these irregular circumstances is in mortal sin, adding two clarifications: first, just as norms cannot cover all concrete cases, neither can the concrete case be elevated to a norm; second, "understanding exceptional situations never implies hiding the light of the fullest ideal nor proposing less than what Jesus offers to the human being."

Marriage and the family

The anthropological and sociocultural mutation that marriage and the family are going through is far from resembling the true nature of the family, which, in the words of John Paul IIis communio personarumIt is not a mere association of individual human relationships, but a unit of coexistence, a "participation in the common", a communication of some people with others, a true educational network of interpersonal relationships. The new situation has its most devastating consequences on the elderly, children and the sick, who have lost the support once provided by the family and the community.

Institutional deterioration implies the disappearance of norms and values that until recently constituted the lived world (we must not forget that religious marriage is disappearing). The unbearable drop in the birth rate (Spain is the EU28 country with the worst birth rate indicators) requires not only a modification of economic conditions, but above all a cultural and spiritual changea transformation capable of transcending hedonism and secularization to be governed by sacrifice firmly rooted in the divine. This is how the American describes it Rod Dreherauthor of The Benedict Option (The Benedictine option): "the way to revalue the family is to revive the religious commitment, renouncing marriage as self-realization and discovering the sacrifice rooted in the divine".

Marriage and the family understood as "a true path of sanctification in ordinary life" will serve Francis to offer the final message of the Exhortation as an invitation to hope: "Let us walk, families, let us continue to walk. What is promised to us is always more. Let us not despair because of our limits, but let us also not give up seeking the fullness of love and communion that has been promised to us".

The authorRoberto Esteban Duque

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