Challenges, certainties and joys

Celebrations in Madrid and Barcelona. Focus on the social value of marriage

The family was at the centre of several initiatives in Spain. In particular, Madrid and Barcelona have become nerve centres for the protection and the promotion of the family on the occasion of the celebration of the Holy Family. Spouses, children, grandparents… For the seventh year running a large number of families from various dioceses in Spain and from various Countries in Europe (Portugal, France, Italy, Austria, Germany, Poland, Hungary) gathered in Plaza de Colón in Madrid to testify not only the importance of the Christian family but also its centrality for all of Europe, to restore to the continent the hope, the joy of living that appear increasingly evanescent, creating apparently unsolvable social, demographic, economic and political problems. It was a real celebration: large families pushing baby-carriages and many grandparents listened to the contributions of couples, most of whom are members of ecclesial communities (Neocatechumenal Way, Comunione e liberazione, Opus Dei and others), shared they joy of living Christian faith today. The hope which Europe urgently needs is “not to be afraid of opening up to life”, pointed out Msgr. Juan Antonio Reig, bishop of Alcalá, delegate of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference for the family and the defence of life. After connecting with Saint Peter’s Square for the Pope’s Angelus, the archbishop of Madrid, president of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, presided over the Eucharistic celebration. In the homily he underlined that “before the crisis experienced by contemporary Europe”, the family “built on Christianity” shows once more “its irreplaceable role in the furthering of solidarity and social peace”, acting as “the true individual and social formula for the good and the fulfilment of the human person”. At the end of the homily, one hundred families ready to leave for mission across five continents, gathered before the cardinal that addressed to them the prayer written by Blessed John Paul II for another similar occasion. Towards the Synod. Also Barcelona celebrated in a solemn way the feast of the Holy Family with a Mass officiated in the Sagrada Familia Cathedral by Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, at the end of a week dedicated to reflections on the theme: “The pastoral challenges on the family in the realm of evangelization”. In his homily Monsignor Paglia remarked that with the Synod on the Family the Pope “calls upon all Christian communities to dedicate more attention to families. Families cannot be left alone, especially those in need. It is also necessary to help our youths understand the beauty of marriage and have a family. Children need a father and a mother”, but sadly “at times adults forget such an obvious truth, perhaps because they want to satisfy their own desires without considering children’s need to have a father and a mother near them”. Abortion, the Forum reiterates its “no”. Polemics were sparked off a few days ago by the declaration of the president of the autonomous community of Estremadura José Antonio Monago Terraza, who ascribed to all the local population his pro-abortion stance. Acting as spokesman of the countless protests of the citizens of Estremadura, the president of Spain’s Forum on the Family Benigno Blanco stressed that Monago “seriously offended many inhabitants of Estremadura ascribing to others an opinion on the reform of the law on abortion, which they do not share and thus spoke on their behalf without consulting them”. For Blanco, “such conduct is unworthy of a honourable politician”. Not only: “Monaco resorted to demagogy, which is inappropriate for a serious politician when he said, to justify abortion, that ‘nobody can force a woman to be a mother.’ But prohibiting abortion doesn’t force anyone to be a mother, rather it is aimed at avoiding that a mother terminates the life of her unborn son”. Spain’s Forum on the family thus invited Monago to apologise to Estremadura’s population for having unfoundedly declared to all of Spain that his autonomous community despises the life of the newborn and is unaware of the immense human tragedy of abortion.

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