PAPAL CONCERN ABOUT MARRIAGE AND FAMILY
ARCHBISHOP JÓZEF MICHALIK
First, I would like note the fragment of the quoted message concerning preparation for marriage. This is a great care of our Church and pope Francis who, in his teaching often emphasized that we have to oppose to the culture of temporality.
Why little consciously
Just in this ‘temporality’ would I see the reason for no maturity of today’s young people and the still increasing number of divorces entailing the increasing number of requests to ecclesiastical tribunals for marriage nullity statements. The Holy Father outlines an image of the world in his speeches, which is moving in phases. There is time for earning money, a stabilization period, and later there is a declining period of life and the man notices as if he has lived ‘in pieces’. Another reason for building the mentality of temporality is uncertainty of work. People employed in various companies do not have sense of stability. Long time ago, when it used to be said that somebody is a clerk, one was aware that he would be a clerk till his retirement. Today the majority of workplaces are characterized by temporality. People get up in the morning not being sure whether it will be the last day of work in this place. This situation makes it impossible for somebody to get rooted into the environment and realizing oneself through work. Facing this situation there is greed of a moment- in order to grab as much as possible. The sense of responsibility for work and its quality is omitted.
This mentality, slowly, but systematically, gets into other spheres of life and fiancées are not convinced of the fact that they are close to a decision for the whole life. The very process of preparation for marriage is also treated as a temporary – it must be done because these are the requirements of the Church. One can often hear grumblings that it lasts too long (six months), that with today’s intense and irregular form of work, young people do not have any time for it. In this belief one can perceive the lack of importance of this moment, lack of intellectual and axiological look at time which they are going to face. The Church, in various ways, also in the programs of particular dioceses, is trying to make the marriage theology understandable, adjust forms of preparations for this sacrament to the contemporary mentality. We cannot neglect these matters and we must develop in these forms and contents passed within preparation for the sacramental relationship which is to last till death.
Similar obstacles are faced by a young man already connected with a marriage knot. Lack of the sense of stability and fear of being engaged for the whole life cause a situation that building the family community is put away in the background. A house becomes a hotel (in the case of work abroad nearly in the literal sense), young spouses pass each other at door, leaving for and returning from work, they do not have any time for learning being together and resigning from some, sometimes destructive habits from their pre-marital period.
Media – a false help
Another dangerous ‘fuser’ of the culture of temporality are media information showing the family as a loose relationship of two people, who can satisfy their egoistic desires at any time, including their rejection of the marriage community. Lack of this care about the family and care about the woman had already been noted by blessed John Paul II in his letter addressed to participants of a conference in Beijing on 26 May 1995: ‘As it is usually emphasized by the very women, equal dignity does not mean ‘identity’ with men’. This identity would only make women and the society poorer, distorting or destroying the unique richness and inner value of femininity. (…) Moreover, in today’s world, where many children are in very difficult situations threatening not only their long-term development, but even their life, it is necessary to restore and strengthen the role of the family as the environment in which parents – mother and father - are responsible and are able to provide children with safety. Children need a good environment, stable family life, which will provide them with achieving maturity – girls in the same respect as boys. In its whole history, the Church has always showed with a deed and a word how important it is to provide girls with education and health care, especially in these regions, where they would not have an access to these good things. In order to realize this mission of the Church and show support for purposes ofthe conference on women, we will encourage Catholic institutions and organizations in the whole world so that they would take girls under particular care.
Absurd of gender ideology
There are many dilemmas which are faced by the contemporary family. It is difficult to present all of them in one text, but it is worth noting the appearing more intense gender ideology. Looking at the way of its implementation and this intensity, every thinking man must feel that it entails something dangerous. Gently speaking, the appearing books raise embarrassment through their titles. Some believers of the Church in Poland think that this issue is excessively being presented. Anti-clerical and anti-ecclesiastical groups perversely accuse the Church of making people watchful for dangers of the ideology which, in their opinion,is an attempt of hiding the problem of pedophilia by people of the Church. It is strange and not understandable that among priests there are also people who say irresponsible words in media hostile to the Church, which, in this way, scandalize and weaken parents’ sensitivity to appearing dangerous processes. Pope Benedict XVI, a man of deep intellect and spirit, during a meeting with participants of a plenary session of the Papal Council ‘Cor Unum’ in 2013, emphasized: ‘(the fact that) the Church repeats the great ‘yes’ for dignity and beauty of marriage as a faithful and fruitful expression of an alliance between a man and a woman, whereas ‘no’ for such philosophies as gender ideology, results from the fact that mutuality between being a woman and a man is an expression of nature beauty which the Creator wanted’.
The basic task of this ideology stating that the fact of being a man or a woman, is not biologically conditioned, but it depends on people, cultural processes, is absurd in itself. I understand that culture can, sometimes in a harmful way, diminish the role of one of sexes in the society. The Church has always had a discourse with such forms and stood in defence of the neglected, as it is emphasized by the Holy Father. But only ill imagination and a kind of demonic force towards destruction of the family order people to prefer opinions that we do not become a man or a woman by birth, but as a result of undergoing cultural pressures. As a result, another absurd is forbidding to address parents as ‘mum’ and ‘dad’ as it is happening in some countries of Europe, or implementing the so-called third sex into questionnaire forms.
Pragmatism – not at any cost
Finally, there is a problem of showing a proper example of marriage and family to the youth. One of catechists, being asked whether many students in his school attend catechesis (whose curriculum also comprises preparation for marriage), answered that there are a few of them, but it does not result from their agnosticism, but from the fact that during catechesis they go to private lessons or deepen their knowledge in other spheres. This attitude is left without any comment, but I appeal to parents to help their children in developing their spiritual space through talks about family issues and promote the style of religious life in their family, and also broaden it by the intellectual-formational dimension, which is catechesis.