India's bishops have decided to give special pastoral attention to people estranged from the church and their families.
Latin-rite bishops were attending the 29th plenary assembly of the
Conference of Catholic Bishops of India in Bhopal and which concluded
The 137 bishops attending were from 132 Latin dioceses and
issued a statement after deliberating on a way to revitalize Catholic
families after church studies suggested that Catholic families are
drifting away from vital Catholic teachings such as those on family
Their family theme was inspired by Pope Francis' 2016
exhortation, Amoris Laetitia ("Promoting the Joy of Love in Our
"We will reach out to those who for several reasons
feel estranged from the church … including people who are divorced,
those civilly remarried and cohabiting partners," the statement said.
said they would do this keeping in mind Pope Francis' words that "what
is urgently needed today is a ministry to care for those whose marital
relationship has broken down."
They also pledged "to support and
accompany" families that need special care such as those living in dire
poverty, with spouses of two different religions, single parent
families, families with disabled children, grieving and bereaved
families, migrants and families with sick and elderly members.
strengthen family life, the bishops also planned to intensify
preparatory classes given to couples before marriage and encourage
priests and nuns to "accompany families" through regular visits and
"We will ensure that our priests, catechists and pastoral workers receive better training in family ministry," they said.
Paul Alois Lakra of Gumla said during the deliberations that the
bishops "found a disconnect between the church and families."
bishops agreed that the current formation of priests and nuns is not
adequate to handle the complex problems that families face and wanted to
bring in changes, the bishop told ucanews.com.
Almeida of Jabalpur said the bishops' office for Catholic families has
been asked to "work out a uniform program to help young boys and girls
to prepare themselves for family life that is in line with the teachings
of the church."
"When we strengthen the marriage preparation
course with more programs to help them realize their vocation to the
sacrament of family, it will naturally help the church and society," he
The Conference of Catholic Bishops of India is the
national body of the country's Latin-rite prelates and is different from
the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, the national body for
prelates of all three rites — Syro-Malabar, Syro-Malankara and the Latin
— in the country. Of the 172 dioceses in India, 132 belong to the Latin