Dublin Conference on the Family Offers Hope in Time of Crisis
Speakers at a Conference of Catholic Families on the sidelines of the World Meeting of Families didn’t hold back from exposing the extent of the crisis in the Church but also gave grounds for hope.
At a time when the domestic church of the family is under attack, Catholic parents and especially fathers must fulfil their role in being “priest, prophet and king” to their families, Capuchin Father Thomas Weinandy has said.
Speaking at an Aug. 22-23 “Conference of Catholic Families” held on the sidelines of the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, Father Weinandy, a member of the International Theological Commission, gave encouragement to Catholic parents, stressing that, above all, both husbands and wives pray.
“Only in praying together can parents together care for their children in a priestly manner,” he said, one that “would sanctify and make holy their children.”
Such prayers also assure the children “of their parents love for one another and their love for them” — something he said which is “especially important” in today’s world where children see “marriages and families split and divided and their peers suffering in insecurity and depression because their families no longer live together.”
Father Weinandy, who also served as executive director of the USCCB’s Secretariat for Doctrine and Pastoral Practices from 2005 to 2013, said parents must feel confident in their prophetic role — knowing the faith and teaching it to their children — especially today when “some within the Church” are trying to “change the Church’s authentic teaching or make it ambiguous.”
But he also underlined the importance of shepherding the family in the faith, and said he believed many Christian families are “fragile” because fathers have “not properly owned and exercised their fatherhood.”
“Today many fathers have abdicated or abandoned their rightful and necessary role as priests, prophets and kings within their families,” he said. But if he fails to practice the faith and pass it on to his children, Father Weinandy warned, he will not only not be an example to his children, but also be unable to “guide and instruct his children in the ways of virtue.”
Adolescent boys, he said, are then likely to resort to “arrogant machismo and haughty bravado expressing itself in vulgar language, drunkenness, drug experimentation and sexual exploitation of women.”
Teenage girls “lacking the needed fatherly care and affection” will seek “flirtatious attention from boys in the hope of finding their security and worth but such a search leads to further insecurity and so to further undermining their self-worth.”
Father Weinandy concluded: “The most important thing for you as individuals and as couples is to love Jesus and to give him your lives.
“As your love for Jesus grows, so will your love for one another grow; and as your love for one another grows, so will your love for your children grow.
“Jesus,” he said, “is the beginning and the end of marriage and family life for in him is the fullness of love, the fullness of the Holy Spirit and in him is the fullness of life, the abundant life of God his Father.”
Sponsored by the Catholic Irish pro-life Lumen Fidei Institute, other speakers at the Conference of Catholic Families included Cardinal Raymond Burke, patron of the Order of Malta, who gave a video address, Robert Royal, president of the Faith and Reason Institute, and Bishop Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary of Astana, Kazakhstan (also via video message). Conference organizer Anthony Murphy of The Catholic Voice, John-Henry Westen, editor of LifeSiteNews, and myself also addressed the conference as members of Catholic media.
Speakers focused principally on the crisis of morality in the Church and the world, but also gave reasons for hope, and many noted that, although this is a time of great trial for the Church, it is also a moment of grace and opportunity. An estimated 400 people attended the conference over the two days.
Blue Wave Victories
Chilean author José Antonio Ureta pointed out that attacks on marriage and the family, which Sister Lucia of Fatima predicted would be the Church’s “final battle” between the Lord and Satan, began in earnest at least 50 years ago when Church documents stopped mentioning the “hierarchy of the ends of marriage” and placed “all the emphasis” on the secondary purpose of marriage — mutual support of spouses — rather than its generative aspects.
A member of the Catholic pro-life Tradition, Property and Family movement, Ureta quoted its founder, Brazilian scholar Plinio Correa de Oliveira, who noticed as far back as 1976 that “we are watching the beginning of a methodical work within the Church and in all other sectors of society not only to promote tolerance but to legitimize homosexuality” leading to same-sex unions being “recognized as capable of producing the same legal effects as marriage.”
Correa de Oliveira also predicted there “can be no middle ground” on this issue, that there will be an “internal clash within the Church, and this internal shock will produce one of the greatest upheavals in the history of mankind.”
Today, Ureta said, we are “in the middle of that very clash between two irreconcilable positions where the heterodox one has — alas! —the upper ground and dares to impose the presence of all sinful forms of non-marital unions, homosexual unions included, in a World Meeting of Families organized by a dicastery of the Holy See.”
He referred, without naming him, to Jesuit Father James Martin — someone who he said “publicly works for the recognition of those unions by the Church.” Father Martin controversially spoke at the meeting Aug. 23 on the theme “Showing Welcome and Respect in our Parishes for ‘LGBT’ People and their Families.”
Areta told the audience present that “we simply do not accept the implementation of the homosexual agenda in the Church” and that we “will fight until the last drop of our blood to protect our children from moral corruption by the imposition of gender ideology in the schools or during Catechism classes.”
But although he warned of the crisis, Areta rejected the idea, ever more frequently asserted, that we are living in the End Times, and reminded the audience that Our Lady of Fatima did not announce the End of the World but rather a “series of dramatic chastisements” after which “her Immaculate Heart will triumph.”
He furthermore highlighted areas in the world where the faith is still very much alive: among the persecuted Christians of the Middle East and other parts of the world, and also the United States where he noted that Perpetual Adoration is offered in 814 locations, averaging out at 4.6 locations per diocese.
And in Latin America, where he said the faithful are suffering a “more insidious persecution” than Chinese or Middle East Catholics, he gave examples of a growing “light blue wave” of devout, mostly Marian faithful who are “standing up to the fight and have so far been victorious.” Ureta gave examples of movement victories in Peru, Brazil, and Argentina where a recent attempt to introduce pro-abortion laws was defeated.
He closed by reminding the audience of Correa de Oliveira’s words, that when “men resolve to cooperate with the grace of God, the marvels of history are worked,” and that “great resurrections of soul” are possible and “invincible” because “nothing can defeat a people that is virtuous and truly loves God.”