A Pastoral Letter on the National Celebration of Family Week on September 19 – 25, 2005.
BELOVED PEOPLE OF GOD:
The Church joins the nation in its celebration of Family Week on September 19 – 25, 2005 to call on all families to reflect on the theme “KARANGALAN NG BAYAN, PAMILYA ANG PAGMUMULAN”.
Aware that the well-being of the Philippine society and the nation are intimately tied to the good of the family, the Church invites all Catholics to take to heart the plan of God for marriage and the family as the only way to achieve genuine human and Christian development as well national development.
The Filipino Family is the only hope for the nation today. The family has been designed and structured by God Himself. The Christian Family is the domestic Church in which the life of grace flows.
As events move many of us to reflect on the fate of our country now beset by so many crises, it is time to ask ourselves, “What is the Lord trying to tell us?” or “Is this the Will of the Lord for our families and for our nation?”
During FAMILY WEEK let us recall the Psalmist words: If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor. With Pope Benedict XVI, we believe that indeed, a sound society is born from the commitment of all its members, but it needs the blessing and support of that God who, unfortunately, is too often excluded or ignored. (Pope Benedict XVI)
What happens most of the time is that we have become too independent that we do not realize that we have our own limitations and that we need to depend on God’s grace. Yet with the Lord, everything is possible. We recognize the importance of our human efforts but without the blessings of God, human endeavor is inadequate and sadly often misdirected. Ora et Labora, St Benedict admonishes us.
Dear families, let us bring back prayer into our homes. Parents as the first teachers are reminded that they have to answer to God for any negligence as parents. Parents must bring back Christian values in rearing our children and building our homes.
The Filipino family, the basic unit of society, can change the course of this nation only if it is rooted in deep prayer before it goes to proclaim the Good News to everyone. Prayer and Work go hand in hand.
Last February 15th, a committee in Congress approved HB3773, a bill on population control, “reproductive health”, sexual rights for young people, and mandatory child sex education, among others now scheduled for voting in the Plenary Session in Congress. The measure imposes fines and imprisonment for parents, spouses, and health professionals who impede “sexual and reproductive rights.” It creates a program for fertility control by encouraging the limitation of family size to two children. It gives incentives to 2-child families. Women—married or single—will be taught “all methods and techniques to prevent pregnancy.” The sponsors have called the proposal “responsible parenthood” and “population management.”
Families be alert to legislative initiatives such as HB3773 which will destroy the family, and the nation, in the long run! The Family and the nation will not be blessed by such initiatives.
For we know by our Faith what is authentic “responsible parenthood”: It means respect for one’s generative functions. It calls upon married persons to use discernment and generosity in their decisions. It calls for due regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions in deciding “to raise a numerous family.” It includes the spouses’ decision “based on grave motives and with due respect for the moral law, to avoid for the time being or even for an indeterminate period, a new birth.” Responsible parenthood makes parents “free and responsible collaborators of God the Creator.”(Humanae Vitae)
As we join the nation in celebrating Family Week let us review the family’s mission and the four general tasks for the family:
- forming a community of persons;
- serving life;
- participating in the development of society;
- sharing in the life and mission of the Church.
The educational role of the Christian family therefore is very important. In this sense, the renewal of the Catholic school must give special attention both to the parents of the pupils and to the formation of a perfect educating community. The right of parents to choose an education in conformity with their religious faith must be absolutely guaranteed.
The State and the Church have the obligation to give families all possible aid to enable them to perform their educational role properly. Therefore both the Church and the State must create and foster the institutions and activities that families justly demand, and the aid must be in proportion to the families’ needs. However, those in society who are in charge of schools must never forget that the parents have been appointed by God Himself as the first and principal educators of their children and that their right is completely inalienable. (Familiaris Consortio)
The family is the foundation of society and the nation. It is from the family that citizens come to birth and it is within the family that they find the first school of the social virtues that can guarantee a better future for this country and development of society itself.
Let our Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, Queen of the Family, be our loving Advocate in these challenging times. Entrust to her our families. Let us pray for the graces which the Lord promised to those who invoke her in this Eucharistic and Marian Year.
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:
(SGD.)+FERNANDO R. CAPALLA, D.D.
Archbishop of Davao
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
September 18, 2005