“The family, a resource for the Country”

Marie Oujezdska chairs the national Centre for the Family. A conference on related policies is scheduled for April 11. Urgent pastoral issues

Next April 11 a conference of family policy will take place in Prague, at the main seat of the Senate of the Czech Republic. The event is organized by the national Centre for the Family, an institution founded by the Czech Bishops’ Conference in 1996, that provides a significant service in favour of the family within civil society. In the light of the current lively debate on the problems of the family in the Country and ahead of the forthcoming Synod, Danka Jaceckova interviewed for SIR Europe Marie Oujezdska, director of the Centre. Could you describe the context, responsibilities as well as the key projects of the national Centre for the family? “The Centre identifies its mission in the activities for support to the family, viewed as a unique environment where are born and developed the fundamental values for the prosperity of our society. The philosophy of our work draws inspiration from the Christian concept of human dignity. We want to contribute to the creation of a pro-family atmosphere motivating men and women to have a family, deepen stable , quality conjugal relations, so that they may be encouraged to raise an optimal number of children. We cooperate with pro-family organizations in our Country and abroad, coordinate conferences and develop several programs that mirror issues of topical relevance”. Where do you see the priorities and the challenges regarding the defense of the family and its values? “The family shouldn’t be seen as a social problem. I intend to say that we shouldn’t speak about it only as an institution in need of help. Most of all, it should be enhanced as a source of prosperity of every society. Our role consists in strengthening the benefits of marriage and parenthood. I think it’s extremely important that the value of the family is presented in a positive and comprehensible way”. The family is at the centre of the efforts of the Catholic Church in every Country. What can you tell us more on the concrete activities of the Czech Bishops’ Conference in this field? “There is a special centre for the family that serves in the pastoral department of every diocese. Their main responsibility is to provide a spiritual preparation for marriage. These centres place their efforts to offer a spiritual service to families in all the stages of their development and existence. I must say that these activities don’t only benefit practising Catholics but also people from other confessions or religions that appreciate the existential aspect of this service. They have the opportunity of becoming familiar with the life of the faithful, of creating friendships. We are direct witnesses of this experience, since our institution was founded by the Czech Bishops’ Conference several years ago. If we speak of families in need of help and concrete support, the Catholic Church offers her service in this field through the national and regional Caritas offices”. You mentioned the pastoral care of the Church towards the family. Let’s now speak of the families’ interest for pastoral ministry…  “Concrete pastoral service is provided mainly by the parishes, thus I cannot make a general statement on this. Families’ interest for the spiritual dimension of their life also depend on the degree of religiousness of the different nations and regions. To this regard, the Czech Republic is one of the least religious countries in Europe. Inside our Country there is a great difference between ecclesial provinces of Boemia and Moravia. From a general perspective, it can be said that parents are limited by high employment rates and demands of the educational system in terms of the amount of time children are required to dedicate to their homework. Their yearning to be involved in the activities I have previously mentioned also depends on their previous positive experience”. Next week the National Centre for the Family will organize and international conference. What are the most relevant themes? “In the upcoming fourteenth edition of this event we will focus on the theme of values that should be supported by policies for the family. Undoubtedly, social generosity fo the State should be appreciated. On the other hand, it should become more evident that the values that families bring into society are appreciated by the State”.

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