Thursday, February 29 2024

There are two questions we should ask ourselves when we read a “dated”
document: How have times changed since the document was written? Can
the document be of relevance to us today?

Cardinal Caffarra began his intervention with these thoughtful
questions at the Conference entitled “The Familiaris consortio
30 years later” held by AMBER Association (Billings Method Association
in Emilia Romagna) on 22 January, 2012.

During his talk, he spoke about how the Christian proposal of the
family and marriage throughout the centuries had been accepted in
principle but had met with difficulties on a practical level. He
summarizes this common perception in a sentence: “this view of marriage
and family is something authentic and beautiful but cannot be put into
practice in its entirety.” Previously, the question of the truth of
marriage (i.e. its indissolubility and responsible procreation) was not
questioned though discussion was raised regarding its practical
aspects.

“In the last decades, however, a radical historical change has taken
place”, states the Archbishop of Bologna. Nowadays, it is not the
practical aspects of the Christian proposal which is in question,
moreover, it is the search for the truth of the institution of
marriage.

In the past, numerous cultures, with all but a few exceptions saw
marriage as a permanent and stable institution that certain personal
convictions could not change. Today, the situation is quite the
contrary.

The Archbishop also explained that the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortio by John Paul II, was written
when certain cultural processes of marriage dissolution were already in
progress. For this reason, the document still offers a valid solution
to the opposing destructive tendencies existing today. Its method is
propositional and its content presents anthropology as a preliminary
approach to understanding marriage and family as an authentic and
genuine reality. It also presents faith as a parameter of discernment
in order to find a way of living a fulfilling life in today’s society.

There is a need to rebuild the family and marriage along the guidelines
of the document, but, as Caffarra states, “in order for this to happen,
Christian thought must face three fundamental challenges in today’s
society: metaphysical nihilism, moral cynicism and asocial
individualism”.

The full document of the conference can be downloaded in the

Documents section

(translations is ours)

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