The CCCB has launched a new "Life and Family" resource section on its website.

CCCB "Life and Family" initiative aims to ‘change hearts’

  • April 4, 2012

OTTAWA - The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has launched a new “Life and Family” page at the web site that promotes a multi-year initiative for rebuilding a culture of life and family and promoting the new evangelization.

The information is meant as a resource for dioceses, lay movements and associations to help them participate in the initiative, which has been underway since January.

The vision proposes strengthening the family as “the domestic church” and making it a vehicle for evangelizing not only its members but the wider society.

“It is obvious that many of the dominant cultural influences in our society are stacked against the Church’s vision,” says the 16-page National Pastoral Initiative for Life and Family posted on the page. “In the midst of such opposition, we must learn in the family to be credible witnesses to Christ.”

The initiative was adopted by the Canadian bishops at their 2011 plenary session last October. It calls the crisis resulting from multi-pronged attacks on the family “urgent.”

It stresses the importance of changing hearts and culture so people choose to exercise sexual restraint, honour marriage and the family and care for the poor, the sick, the elderly and the dying.

But it also outlines the role Catholics must play in working to provide a legal framework to protect life and family.

“Christian families are today called to witness to the Gospel in difficult times and circumstances, when the family itself is threatened by an array of forces,” it says. These include widespread abortion, the redefinition of marriage and family, promotion of euthanasia and assisted suicide, liberalized divorce and threats to religious freedom and freedom of conscience.

The document also examines the role the family plays as a building block for society and in poverty prevention.

“Let us make the family our fundamental option, remembering that virtually every form of poverty — material, emotional, moral or spiritual — has its origin in some kind of deprivation within the family,” the document says.  

The document, developed by the CCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee for Life and Family, offers a vision of young families with solid faith and moral formation becoming effective agents of evangelization over the next 20 years.

“The Christian family, like the Church as a whole, should be a place where the truth of the Gospel is the rule of life and the gift which family members bring to the wider community,” the document says. “The family is not simply the object of the Church’s pastoral care; it is also one of the Church’s most effective agents of evangelization.”

The plan focuses on three elements: helping Catholics become aware of their baptismal call to holiness, especially within the vocation of marriage; strengthening the understanding among Catholics of the role of the laity in sanctifying work in the world; and in familiarizing Catholics with Pope John Paul II’s teachings on the theology of the body (TOB).

The proposal stresses faith formation and targets the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Marriage as ways to evangelize nominal Catholics. It recommends mandatory marriage preparation based on TOB; baptismal preparation that educates parents about holiness and the family as domestic Church; national support for training in Natural Family Planning; confirmation preparation that includes teaching on chastity; training in evangelization so Catholics can be comfortable sharing faith; and formation on a number of issues ranging from abortion and euthanasia to the use of the media and civic responsibility.

The initiative also includes recommendations on promoting life and family, including an annual National Week for Life and Family (May 12-19 this year) to be celebrated in dioceses; participation by bishops with members of their flocks in the National March for Life in Ottawa May 9 or in marches in their dioceses; and intervention by bishops in the public sphere whether concerning bills before Parliament or cases before the Supreme Court of Canada; and encouragement for families to engage in the public debate.

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