The following are remarks delivered by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia in Taiwan recently at the 20th Asia Pacific Congress on Faith, Life and Family organized by Human Life International (HLI).
I want my message today to help you communicate the Gospel of the Family and of Life to the women and men of today’s Asia. And coming from Rome, I bring with me the message that Saint Ignatius of Antioch gave to the Romans when he was brought to Rome in chains to die as a martyr: “In times of trial, it is not subtle arguments that produce Christians, it is Christianity’s call to heroism”—the heroism of witness, the heroism of love, the heroism of holiness.
You already know the key documents of the Magisterium that deal with life—I’m thinking in particular of the Encyclical Evangelium Vitae written by Saint John Paul II twenty years ago—but I would like to call you attention to others, written this year: The Final Document of the Synod and the Catecheses that the Holy Father has been giving at his Wednesday General Audiences.
The Synod document has three parts. The first is a wise and thoughtful description of today’s family realities on the several continents. It is useful because an understanding of the current situation is indispensable for an effective communication of the Gospel. The second part is an invitation to look toward Jesus and join with his sentiments in order to gain a deeper understanding of the vocation of the Christian family and the power of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. The third part presents an outline of the mission of the Christian family in today’s society. The third part is perhaps the most innovative because it urges families to be active participants in evangelization and to be direct and credible witnesses to the beauty of the Gospel of the Family and the Gospel of Life.
Families can restore a family atmosphere to parishes. And he asks the Christian communities to do their part, to “overcome attitudes of command, of mere efficiency, in favor of interpersonal dialogue, familiarity and reciprocal esteem. Families should take the initiative and feel a responsibility to bring their gifts to the whole community. We must all be aware that Christian faith needs a level playing field of shared life. The family and the parish must perform the miracle of a more communitary life for the benefit of all society.”
These remarks of Pope Francis open onto a new and broader vision. In a world where individualism and conflicts are globalized, families and Christian communities are called on to resonate the prophecy of the Gospel of the Family.