Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Our Lady of Tenderness




Telling someone "I love you" in whatever way is always delivering good news. Nobody will respond by saying, "Well, I knew that already, you don't have to say it again"! Words of love,tenderness and affirmation are like bread.
We need them each day, over and over. They keep us alive inside.
Words of hate are the devil's cup of poison. 
The giver will be the receiver.  Choose wisely!

                                                                                                                  - Henri Nouwen

Monday, July 11, 2016

God's mercy is endless


Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury 
of compassion --- inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with 
great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, 
which is Love and Mercy itself.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Pope's recommendations towards healthy service


VATICAN CITY
ACCEDI

“The reform will move forward with determination, clarity and firm resolve.” Scandals cannot overshadow the important work the Roman Curia does “for the Pope and the entire Church, with dedication,” Francis said in this morning’s traditional Christmas address to the Roman Curia in the Clementine Hall. Last year, the Pope pronounced a powerful speech listing the “diseases” that can affect “every Christian, Curia, community, congregation, parish and ecclesial movement” and “require prevention, vigilance, care and sadly, in some cases, long and painful interventions”. This year, he presented a positive list of all necessary virtues for those working in the Curia. 

In his speech, the Pope recalled that some of the diseases he denounced in December 2014 “became evident in the course of the past year, no small pain to the entire body and harming many souls”. Here he was referring not only to the Vatileaks scandal but to other events as well.” “It seems necessary to state what has been – and ever shall be – the object of sincere reflection and decisive provisions. The reform will move forward with determination, clarity and firm resolve, since Ecclesia semper reformanda.” However, the Pope clarified, “even scandals cannot obscure the efficiency of the services rendered to the Pope and to the entire Church by the Roman Curia, with great effort, responsibility, commitment and dedication, and this is a real source of consolation”. It would therefore be “a grave injustice not to express heartfelt gratitude and needed encouragement to all those good and honest men and women in the Curia who work with dedication, devotion, fidelity and professionalism.” 

Francis emphasised that “resistance, difficulties and failures” are always “opportunities for growth and never for discouragement”. They are an opportunity to “return to what is essential”, to “come to terms with the awareness we have of ourselves, of God, of our neighbour, of the sensus Ecclesiae and the sensus fidei”. This is why, in the Year of Mercy the Pope is offering “practical aid”, in other words “a catalogue of needed virtues” for those who “would like to make their consecration or service to the Church more fruitful”, inviting heads of dicasteries “to add to this and to complete it”. It is an “acrostic analysis” of the word “M-i-s-e-r-i-c-o-r-d-i-a” (Italian for “Mercy”). 

Missionarietà (missionary spirit) and pastoralità (pastoral spirit)  
The missionary spirit “is what makes the Curia evidently fertile and fruitful” while “a sound pastoral spirit is an indispensable virtue for the priest in particular” and “the yardstick for our curial and priestly work”. 

Idoneità (idoneity) and Sagacità (sagacity)  
The first “involves acquiring the necessary requisites for exercising as best we can our tasks and duties with intelligence and insight”. “It does not countenance “recommendations” and payoffs”. Sagacity means a “readiness to grasp and confront situations with shrewdness and creativity”. 

Spiritualità (spirituality) and Umanità (humanity)  
Spirituality is “the backbone of all service in the Church and in Christian life”. Humanity “is what embodies the truthfulness of our faith”, what “makes us different from machines and robots, which feel nothing and are never moved. Once we find it hard to weep seriously or to laugh heartily, we have begun our decline and the process of turning from “humans” into something else.” 

Esemplarità (example) and Fedeltà (fidelity)  
Example means “avoiding scandals which harm souls and impair the credibility of our witness”. Fidelity to “our consecration, to our vocation”. Here, the Pope quoted the formidable words Jesus used to described those who scandalise the little: it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 

Razionalità (reasonableness) and Amabilità (gentleness)  
The first “helps us to avoid emotional excesses”, the second “to avoid an excess bureaucracy, programming and planning”. All excess, Francis said, “is a symptom of some imbalance”. 

Innocuità (innocuousness) and determinazione (determination)  
Innocuousness “makes us cautious in our judgement and able of refraining from impulsive and hasty actions”. Determination is “acting with a resolute will, clear vision, obedience to God” and only to the supreme law of the salvation of souls. 

Carità (charity) and Verità (truth)  
“Two inseparable virtues of Christian life… To the point that charity without truth becomes a destructive ideology of complaisance and truth without charity becomes myopic legalism”. 

Onestà (openness) and Maturità (maturity)  
Openness is “rectitude, consistency and absolute sincerity with regard both to ourselves and to God”. An honest and open person acts righteously even when there is no one watching over them, “an honest person has no fear of being caught  
since they never betray the trust of others”. And they are “never domineering like the “wicked servant” with regard to the persons or matters entrusted to his or her care”. Maturity, meanwhile, is “seeking to achieve harmony in our physical, mental and spiritual gifts”. 

Rispettosità (respectfulness) and Umiltà (humility)  
The first is a virtue of those “who always try to show genuine respect for others, for their own work, for their superiors and subordinates, for dossiers and papers, for confidentiality and privacy.” Humility is the virtue of those “godly persons who become all the more important as they come to realize that they are nothing, and can do nothing, apart from God’s grace”. 

Doviziosità (diligence) and Attenzione (attentiveness)  
There is no use, the Pope explained, in opening all the Holy Doors of all the basilicas in the world if the doors of our own heart are closed to love, if our hands are closed to giving, if our homes are closed to hospitality and our churches to welcome and acceptance. Attentiveness is concern for the little things, for doing our best and never yielding to our vices and failings.” 

Impavidità (intrepidness) and prontezza (alertness)  
“Not letting oneself be daunted by difficulties” and “acting with boldness and determination, not being lukewarm”. Alertness means “being able to act freely and with agility, without becoming attached to temporary material things” and without ever “letting oneself be weighed down by useless things, becoming caught up in one’s own plans and without allowing oneself to be overcome by ambition”. 

Affidabilità (accountability) and sobrietà (sobriety)  
An accountable person is “someone who is able to respect their commitments with seriousness and reliability when they are being observed but above all, when they are alone” and “they never betray the trust placed in them”. Sobriety is “the ability to renounce all that is superfluous and hold out against the dominant logic of consumerism”. It is about “looking at the world through God’s eyes and through the eyes of the poor, putting oneself in poor people’s shoes”. “A sober person is a simple person because they are able to boil down, retrieve, recycle, repair and exercise moderation”. 

Francis ended his speech by calling for mercy to guide our actions, inspire our reforms and enlighten our decisions”. May it “teach us when we need to move forward and when we need to take a step back”. The Pope also quoted a prayer which a US bishop dedicated to the Blessed Oscar Romero: It helps now and then to step back and take a long view… We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs”. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Happy Christmas 2015


Abortion, Forgiveness and The Year of Mercy



“Be merciful as your Father is merciful.”  (Luke 6:36)
Be merciful.  Mercy.  That’s a word we don’t use or experience every day, especially forgotten in our news, on Facebook, Twitter, and sometimes in our families. Imagine our world exploding with mercy! What difference would that make in your life?   We may have a chance to experience a world more focused on mercy, as Pope Francis has announced a “Year of Mercy” which will run from December 8, 2015 until November 20, 2016.  I, for one, am thrilled.
Yesterday in preparation for the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis released a letter outlining several of the ways we as a church can offer mercy. He addresses abortion specifically in this brief excerpt of the letter:
“I think in particular of all the women who have resorted to abortion. I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision. I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal. I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision. What has happened is profoundly unjust; yet only understanding the truth of it can enable one not to lose hope. The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented, especially when that person approaches the Sacrament of Confession with a sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father. For this reason too, I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it. May priests fulfill this great task by expressing words of genuine welcome combined with a reflection that explains the gravity of the sin committed, besides indicating a path of authentic conversion by which to obtain the true and generous forgiveness of the Father who renews all with his presence.”  – Pope Francis, Sept. 1, 2015
P1000126This is merciful news, right? But are you confused? Because if it weren’t for a recent conversation I had with Fr. David Angelino regarding the Sacrament of Reconciliation and abortion, I would be confused. Fr. Angelino says, “The news coverage leads one to believe that priests were not previously able to minister the Sacrament of Reconciliation to someone concerning abortion, but they can.   However, serious sins like abortion carry a penalty that can only be removed by the bishop or a priest delegated by him.  As far as I know, most if not all dioceses in the United States  grant this delegation to all of their priests in good standing.  Also, even if a case has to go to the bishop, the penitent doesn’t have to go.  It is taken care of in writing (without names) between the confessor (priest) and the appropriate authority.”  Someone seeking absolution for an abortion may definitely be absolved, but it’s a process, meant to bring healing and renewal as well as absolution.  In the eyes of the church, abortion is extremely serious, but the church’s desire is for all to be reconciled and strengthened with grace to not sin again.
So what did the letter say?  It seems that during the Year of Mercy, any priest has the authority to remove the penalty  for the sin of abortion without requiring the cause to be forwarded to the Bishop if the penitent is sorrowful. 
If you or someone you know have suffered from abortion, I say to you, “Come.” P1000111   Come to your priest. Come to Reconciliation.  I’m convinced that abortion is so very prevalent that too many have been touched by it.  Now is the time.  Don’t stay away.  Come.
Help for post-abortive women and men can be found athttp://www.rachelsvineyard.org

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Moving accounts of refugee families separated by war



The Synod on the Family has provided the Church with a manifesto for action, writes Archbishop Eamon Martin

Eamon Martin

PUBLISHED25/10/2015 | 02:30
Discussion: Archbishop Eamon Martin1
Discussion: Archbishop Eamon Martin
Three weeks ago, as I rather nervously prepared for the Opening Mass of the Synod on the Family, I had a sense of being part of something very special and historic in the life of the Church. The first person I spoke to was an archbishop from Lesotho, and soon we were joined by Bishop Eugene Hurley of Darwin and Archbishop Zore from Slovenia. By the time Pope Francis pulled up in his Ford Focus, more than 300 priests, bishops and cardinals, from every corner of the globe, stood vested and ready to concelebrate Mass with the successor of St Peter.
'Cum Petro et sub Petro' (with Peter and under Peter) is the phrase which best describes for me all that has been happening here since the beginning of the Synod. In the packed Synod Hall, Pope Francis listened attentively and with deep concentration to every word spoken. We heard testimonies from all over the world painting a panorama of the pastoral challenges to family life -from poverty and austerity to child trafficking, domestic violence and abuse; from polygamy and exploitation to divorce and separation; from individualism and isolation to the spread of abortion, euthanasia and gender ideology.
Some of the most striking contributions at the Synod were about the plight of migrant and refugee families in many parts of the world. I found myself deeply moved on several occasions as we listened to accounts of families separated, grieving and oppressed because of war and persecution in their homelands. An African bishop told us that massive numbers of refugees have poured into Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi and Zambia. We heard from the Lebanon Patriarch about the ongoing persecution which is driving Christian families from their homes in Syria and Iraq. We listened to stories of millions of families who continue to suffer because of the war in Ukraine.
Outside the Synod Hall, the western media and some Catholic commentators seemed fixated on intrigue and potential divisions amongst the bishops, particularly on the issues of homosexuality and communion for the divorced and remarried. Although these issues were discussed and there was a divergence of opinion, they certainly did not dominate or distract unduly from the main focus of the Synod, which was 'The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and the Contemporary World'.
The Synod faced the delicate task of trying to balance mercy and truth, doctrine and pastoral care, justice and forgiveness. At the time of writing, the final Synod report to Pope Francis is still unfinished, but it is my hope that through the Synod, the Church will speak with both the tenderness of a mother and the clarity of a teacher, thereby witnessing to Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
By all accounts, the most dynamic and interesting sessions at the Synod were the 13 'Circuli Minores' or 'small group' discussions. Almost half of the time at the Synod was devoted to these language group meetings. I was honoured to be elected as 'Moderator' (Chairman) of one of the English language groups and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin was elected 'Relator' (Secretary/Reporter) of another. In my group, 18 nationalities from five continents were represented, and although we all spoke English, I can assure you there's quite a difference between the Derry accent and that of South Sudan! Equally, we found great richness and challenge in the different modulations of marriage and the family that are accented in the various cultures and traditions around the world.
It became clear to us that the Church is called to accompany all families as they persevere through the ups and downs of everyday life, and to reach out with particular care and understanding to those who seek God but who have, for whatever reason, been unable to live fully in accordance with the teachings of the Church.
Those best placed to be the agents of such support and accompaniment for families, are faithful families themselves, especially when they are given opportunities for faith development and formation. Indeed, the discussion was deeply enriched, both before and during the Synod itself, by the contributions of lay people, including married couples (and one little baby!), who kept us all grounded in the realities of family life.
Returning home from the Synod, I am confident that the final document, together with Pope Francis's reflections on it, will provide us with both a manifesto and a challenge for pastoral action in the coming years.
As we look forward to Ireland's hosting of the World Meeting of Families in Dublin 2018 - one of the most significant events in the calendar of the Catholic Church - we have much to be getting on with.
Archbishop Eamon Martin is Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland
Sunday Independent

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

CONCLUSION OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS


SYNOD ON THE FAMILY 2015

 Synod Hall
Saturday, 24 October 2015


Dear Beatitudes, Eminences and Excellencies,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I would like first of all to thank the Lord, who has guided our synodal process in these years by his Holy Spirit, whose support is never lacking to the Church.
My heartfelt thanks go to Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod, Bishop Fabio Fabene, its Under-Secretary, and, together with them, the Relator, Cardinal Peter Erdő, and the Special Secretary, Archbishop Bruno Forte, the Delegate Presidents, the writers, the consultors, the translators and the singers, and all those who have worked tirelessly and with total dedication to the Church: My deepest thanks! I would also like to thank the Commission which made the report; some of them were up all night!
I thank all of you, dear Synod Fathers, Fraternal Delegates, Auditors and Assessors, parish priests and families, for your active and fruitful participation.
And I thank all those unnamed men and women who contributed generously to the labours of this Synod by quietly working behind the scenes.
Be assured of my prayers, that the Lord will reward all of you with his abundant gifts of grace!
As I followed the labours of the Synod, I asked myself: What will it mean for the Church to conclude this Synod devoted to the family?
Certainly, the Synod was not about settling all the issues having to do with the family, but rather attempting to see them in the light of the Gospel and the Church’s tradition and two-thousand-year history, bringing the joy of hope without falling into a facile repetition of what is obvious or has already been said.
Surely it was not about finding exhaustive solutions for all the difficulties and uncertainties which challenge and threaten the family, but rather about seeing these difficulties and uncertainties in the light of the Faith, carefully studying them and confronting them fearlessly, without burying our heads in the sand.
It was about urging everyone to appreciate the importance of the institution of the family and of marriage between a man and a woman, based on unity and indissolubility, and valuing it as the fundamental basis of society and human life.
It was about listening to and making heard the voices of the families and the Church’s pastors, who came to Rome bearing on their shoulders the burdens and the hopes, the riches and the challenges of families throughout the world.
It was about showing the vitality of the Catholic Church, which is not afraid to stir dulled consciences or to soil her hands with lively and frank discussions about the family.
It was about trying to view and interpret realities, today’s realities, through God’s eyes, so as to kindle the flame of faith and enlighten people’s hearts in times marked by discouragement, social, economic and moral crisis, and growing pessimism.
It was about bearing witness to everyone that, for the Church, the Gospel continues to be a vital source of eternal newness, against all those who would “indoctrinate” it in dead stones to be hurled at others.
It was also about laying closed hearts, which bare the closed hearts which frequently hide even behind the Church’s teachings or good intentions, in order to sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality, difficult cases and wounded families.
It was about making clear that the Church is a Church of the poor in spirit and of sinners seeking forgiveness, not simply of the righteous and the holy, but rather of those who are righteous and holy precisely when they feel themselves poor sinners.
It was about trying to open up broader horizons, rising above conspiracy theories and blinkered viewpoints, so as to defend and spread the freedom of the children of God, and to transmit the beauty of Christian Newness, at times encrusted in a language which is archaic or simply incomprehensible.
In the course of this Synod, the different opinions which were freely expressed – and at times, unfortunately, not in entirely well-meaning ways – certainly led to a rich and lively dialogue; they offered a vivid image of a Church which does not simply “rubberstamp”, but draws from the sources of her faith living waters to refresh parched hearts.[1]
And – apart from dogmatic questions clearly defined by the Church’s Magisterium – we have also seen that what seems normal for a bishop on one continent, is considered strange and almost scandalous – almost! – for a bishop from another; what is considered a violation of a right in one society is an evident and inviolable rule in another; what for some is freedom of conscience is for others simply confusion. Cultures are in fact quite diverse, and every general principle – as I said, dogmatic questions clearly defined by the Church’s magisterium – every general principle needs to be inculturated, if it is to be respected and applied.[2] The 1985 Synod, which celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, spoke of inculturation as “the intimate transformation of authentic cultural values through their integration in Christianity, and the taking root of Christianity in the various human cultures”.[3] Inculturation does not weaken true values, but demonstrates their true strength and authenticity, since they adapt without changing; indeed they quietly and gradually transform the different cultures.[4]
We have seen, also by the richness of our diversity, that the same challenge is ever before us: that of proclaiming the Gospel to the men and women of today, and defending the family from all ideological and individualistic assaults.
And without ever falling into the danger of relativism or of demonizing others, we sought to embrace, fully and courageously, the goodness and mercy of God who transcends our every human reckoning and desires only that “all be saved” (cf. 1 Tm 2:4). In this way we wished to experience this Synod in the context of the Extraordinary Year of Mercy which the Church is called to celebrated.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Synod experience also made us better realize that the true defenders of doctrine are not those who uphold its letter, but its spirit; not ideas but people; not formulae but the gratuitousness of God’s love and forgiveness. This is in no way to detract from the importance of formulae – they are necessary – or from the importance of laws and divine commandments, but rather to exalt the greatness of the true God, who does not treat us according to our merits or even according to our works but solely according to the boundless generosity of his Mercy (cf. Rom 3:21-30; Ps 129; Lk 11:47-54). It does have to do with overcoming the recurring temptations of the elder brother (cf. Lk 15:25-32) and the jealous labourers (cf. Mt 20:1-16). Indeed, it means upholding all the more the laws and commandments which were made for man and not vice versa (cf. Mk 2:27).
In this sense, the necessary human repentance, works and efforts take on a deeper meaning, not as the price of that salvation freely won for us by Christ on the cross, but as a response to the One who loved us first and saved us at the cost of his innocent blood, while we were still sinners (cf. Rom 5:6).
The Church’s first duty is not to hand down condemnations or anathemas, but to proclaim God’s mercy, to call to conversion, and to lead all men and women to salvation in the Lord (cf. Jn 12:44-50).
Blessed Paul VI expressed this eloquently: “”We can imagine, then, that each of our sins, our attempts to turn our back on God, kindles in him a more intense flame of love, a desire to bring us back to himself and to his saving plan… God, in Christ, shows himself to be infinitely good… God is good. Not only in himself; God is – let us say it with tears – good for us. He loves us, he seeks us out, he thinks of us, he knows us, he touches our hearts us and he waits for us. He will be – so to say – delighted on the day when we return and say: ‘Lord, in your goodness, forgive me. Thus our repentance becomes God’s joy”.[5]
Saint John Paul II also stated that: “the Church lives an authentic life when she professes and proclaims mercy… and when she brings people close to the sources of the Saviour’s mercy, of which she is the trustee and dispenser”.[6]
Benedict XVI, too, said: “Mercy is indeed the central nucleus of the Gospel message; it is the very name of God… May all that the Church says and does manifest the mercy God feels for mankind. When the Church has to recall an unrecognized truth, or a betrayed good, she always does so impelled by merciful love, so that men may have life and have it abundantly (cf. Jn 10:10)”.[7]
In light of all this, and thanks to this time of grace which the Church has experienced in discussing the family, we feel mutually enriched. Many of us have felt the working of the Holy Spirit who is the real protagonist and guide of the Synod. For all of us, the word “family” does have the same sound as it did before the Synod, so much so that the word itself already contains the richness of the family’s vocation and the significance of the labours of the Synod.[8]
In effect, for the Church to conclude the Synod means to return to our true “journeying together” in bringing to every part of the world, to every diocese, to every community and every situation, the light of the Gospel, the embrace of the Church and the support of God’s mercy!
Thank you!


[1]Cf. Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina on the Centenary of its Faculty of Theology, 3 March 2015.
[2] Cf. Pontifical Biblical Commission, Fede e cultura alla luce della Bibbia. Atti della Sessione plenaria 1979 della Pontificia Commissione Biblica, LDC, Leumann, 1981; SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Gaudium et Spes, 44.
[3]Final Relatio (7 December 1985), L’Osservatore Romano, 10 December 1985, 7.
[4] “In virtue of her pastoral mission, the Church must remain ever attentive to historical changes and to the development of new ways of thinking. Not, of course, to submit to them, but rather to surmount obstacles standing in the way of accepting her counsels and directives” (Interview with Cardinal Georges Cottier, in La Civiltà Cattolica 3963-3964, 8 August 2015, p. 272).
[5] Homily, 23 June 1968: Insegnamenti VI (1968), 1177-1178.
[6] Dives in Misericordia, 13. He also said: “In the paschal mystery… God appears to us as he is: a tender-hearted Father, who does not give up in the face of his childrens’ ingratitude and is always ready to forgive (JOHN PAUL II, Regina Coeli, 23 April 1995: Insegnamenti XVIII, 1 [1995], 1035). So too he described resistance to mercy: “The present-day mentality, more perhaps than that of people in the past, seems opposed to a God of mercy, and in fact tends to exclude from life and to remove from the human heart the very idea of mercy. The word and the concept of ‘mercy’ seem to cause uneasiness…” (Dives in Misericordia [30 November 1980] 2).
[7]Regina Coeli, 30 March 2008: Insegnamenti IV, 1 (2008), 489-490. Speaking of the power of mercy, he stated: “it is mercy that sets a limit to evil. In it is expressed God’s special nature – his holiness, the power of truth and of love” (Homily on Divine Mercy Sunday, 15 April 2007: Insegnamenti III, 1 [2007], 667).
[8] An acrostic look at the word “family” [Italian: “famiglia”] can help us summarize the Church’s mission as the task of: Forming new generations to experience love seriously, not as an individualistic search for a pleasure then to be discarded, and to believe once again in true, fruitful and lasting love as the sole way of emerging from ourselves and being open to others, leaving loneliness behind, living according to God’s will, finding fulfilment, realizing that marriage is “an experience which reveals God’s love, defending the sacredness of life, every life, defending the unity and indissolubility of the conjugal bond as a sign of God’s grace and of the human person’s ability to love seriously” (Homily for the Opening Mass of the Synod, 4 October 2015: L’Osservatore Romano, 5-6 October 2015, p. 7) and, furthermore, enhancing marriage preparation as a means of providing a deeper understanding of the Christian meaning of the sacrament of Matrimony; Approaching others, since a Church closed in on herself is a dead Church, while a Church which does leave her own precincts behind in order to seek, embrace and lead others to Christ is a Church which betrays her very mission and calling; Manifesting and bringing God’s mercy to families in need; to the abandoned, to the neglected elderly, to children pained by the separation of their parents, to poor families struggling to survive, to sinners knocking on our doors and those who are far away, to the differently able, to all those hurting in soul and body, and to couples torn by grief, sickness, death or persecution; Illuminating consciences often assailed by harmful and subtle dynamics which even attempt to replace God the Creator, dynamics which must be unmasked and resisted in full respect for the dignity of each person; Gaining and humbly rebuilding trust in the Church, which has been gravely weakened as a result of the conduct and sins of her children – sadly, the counter-witness of scandals committed in the Church by some clerics have damaged her credibility and obscured the brightness of her saving message; Labouring intensely to sustain and encourage those many strong and faithful families which, in the midst of their daily struggles, continue to give a great witness of fidelity to the Church’s teachings and the Lord’s commandments; Inventing renewed programmes of pastoral care for the family based on the Gospel and respectful of cultural differences, pastoral care which is capable of communicating the Good News in an attractive and positive manner and helping banish from young hearts the fear of making definitive commitments, pastoral care which is particularly attentive to children, who are the real victims of broken families, pastoral care which is innovative and provides a suitable preparation for the sacrament of Matrimony, rather than so many programmes which seem more of a formality than training for a lifelong commitment; Aiming to love unconditionally all families, particularly those experiencing difficulties, since no family should feel alone or excluded from the Church’s loving embrace, and the real scandal is a fear of love and of showing that love concretely.