“Support for marriage and family life is central to what the Church teaches and lives... The gift from God of the family, based on the love of wife and husband and open to life, is a gift that the Church seeks to protect and cherish”, the Irish Catholic bishops have said in a statement ahead of the Synod on the family to take place in Rome in October.
They have also thanked the thousands of people who responded to the Vatican's questionnaire in preparation for the Synod on the Family.
The statement adds: “As the original cell of society, the family is essential for the formation of members of society. It is a place where generosity, tenderness, forgiveness, stability, care, acceptance, and truth can be best taught and learned. Parents are also 'the first and best teachers of their children in faith'.”
The statement lists some of the challenges identified in the questionnaire, including “problems arising from severe financial hardship, unemployment and emigration, domestic violence, neglect and other forms of abuse, infidelity and constant pressures on ‘family time’ together.”
The Bishops continued:
“We wish to encourage and accompany with love those who are struggling to live family life. Many of those who responded to the questionnaire expressed particular difficulties with the teachings on extra-marital sex and cohabitation by unmarried couples, divorce and remarriage, family planning, assisted human reproduction, homosexuality. The Church’s teaching in these sensitive areas is often not experienced as realistic, compassionate, or life-enhancing. Some see it as disconnected from real-life experience, leaving them feeling guilty and excluded. We recognise our responsibility as bishops to present faithfully the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family in a positive and engaging way, whilst showing compassion and mercy towards those who are finding difficulty in accepting or living it.”