The Third Extraordinary General Assembly

Father Luciano Sandrin


The family must be the object of loving care by the Church community, especially during the most fragile moments which, indeed, can be transformed into challenges to the faithfulness of conjugal love.

Disabili - FamigliaThere are many challenges which in the lives of families evoke the pain and the hardship of existence. We are reminded of this by the Message that the extraordinary assembly of the Synod on the Family addressed to all the families of the various continents of the world and in particular to those who follow Christ and the way that he outlined: ‘We may think of the suffering that may appear of with a diversely abled child, with a grave illness, with the neurological deterioration of old age, and with the death of a loved one.

The generous faithfulness of many families that go through these trials with courage, faith and love is admirable. They see such trials not as something that is torn away or inflicted but as something that is given to them and that they themselves give, seeing the suffering Christ in that sick flesh’.

This is a statement that at least in part redeems the ‘silence’ that characterised the last Synod of Bishops – both the voice of the Christian community summed up in the Instrumentum Laboris and the ragazza-con-anzianaReport which was the outcome of the deliberations of the Synod – on the impact that experiences connected with illness, with disabilit, and with new forms of dementia linked to ageing (and the at times ‘unbearable’ pain that accompanies them) have on the lives and the resistance of families that ‘co-exist’ with these experiences, at times for many years. The reference in article n. 57 in my view amounts to too little here: ‘the Church supports families that welcome, bring up and surround with their affection diversely abled children’.

Forgetfulness, denial or ‘responsible’ distraction of a Church that little resembles the Good Samaritan who ‘saw and did not pass by’. There is a whole year and at its the end the Ordinary Synod, for the Christian community, and in particular those who have special tasks of responsibility, to reaffirm its attention and also listen to these voices of suffering and the requests for help that come from those families throughout the world who ‘co-exist’ with pain, illness and disability.

The promise to be faithful in joy and in pain, in suffering and in illness, and to take care of each other throughout their lives, does not concern only the spouses – it also concerns the Christian community in its relationship of love with Christ who is present in those who suffer.

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