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Synod14 - 6ª Congregazione generale: "Le situazioni pastorali difficili (II parte, cap. 3)", 08.10.2014

Introduzione del Presidente delegato, Card. Raymundo Damasceno Assis

Testimonianza dei coniugi Stephen e Sandra Conway, Responsabili regionali per l’Africa di Retrouvailles (Sud Africa)

Alle ore 16.30 di oggi, alla presenza del Santo Padre, si tiene nell’Aula del Sinodo in Vaticano la sesta Congregazione generale del Sinodo straordinario sulla famiglia, per la continuazione del dibattito generale, che segue un ordine tematico in corrispondenza con le parti e i capitoli dell’Instrumentum laboris.

La sessione di questo pomeriggio - "Le situazioni pastorali difficili" (II parte, Cap. 3) - pone l’attenzione nello specifico sui punti: a) Situazioni familiari; b) Circa le unioni tra persone dello stesso sesso.

Il Presidente delegato di turno, Card. Raymundo Damasceno Assis, Arcivescovo di Aparecida (Brasile), ha introdotto la testimonianza dei coniugi Sig. Stephen e Sig.ra Sandra Conway, provenienti dal Sud Africa, Responsabili regionali per l’Africa di Retrouvailles e presenti al Sinodo come Uditori. Ne riportiamo di seguito i testi:

Introduzione del Presidente delegato, Card. Raymundo Damasceno Assis

In questa Congregazione Generale affronteremo la complessa tematica presentata nel Cap. III della II Parte dell’Instrumentum laboris, ovvero le situazioni pastorali difficili. Esse riguardano due tipi di realtà: da una parte le situazioni familiari difficili, dall’altra le unioni tra persone dello stesso sesso.

Sono situazioni che esigono un accompagnamento da parte della Chiesa nei confronti delle persone coinvolte che vivono le loro esperienze come profonde ferite nella propria umanità, nel rapporto con gli altri e con Dio. Rispondendo all’appello di Papa Francesco vogliamo imparare insieme l’arte dell’accompagnamento, per "dare al nostro cammino il ritmo salutare della prossimità, con uno sguardo rispettoso e pieno di compassione ma che nel medesimo tempo sani, liberi e incoraggi a maturare nella vita cristiana" (EG 169).

Riguardo alle situazioni familiari difficili che richiedono un’urgente risposta pastorale l’Instrumentum laboris accenna alle seguenti realtà: le convivenze (n. 81); le unioni di fatto (n. 83); la situazione dei separati, dei divorziati e dei divorziati risposati (n. 86); i figli e coloro che restano soli (n. 87); le ragazze madri (n. 88); le situazioni di irregolarità canonica (n. 89); l’accesso ai sacramenti in tutti questi casi (nn. 93-95); altre richieste (n. 96); la situazione particolare dei separati e divorziati (n. 97); la semplificazione delle cause matrimoniali (nn. 98-102); la cura pastorale delle situazioni difficili (nn. 103-104); la richiesta del sacramento del matrimonio da parte dei non praticanti e dei non credenti (nn. 105-109).

In relazione alle unioni tra persone dello stesso sesso, la discussione si apre ai seguenti temi: il riconoscimento civile di tali unioni (nn. 110-112); la valutazione che ne fanno le Chiese particolari (nn. 113-115); alcune indicazioni pastorali in proposito (nn. 116-120).

Lungi dal chiuderci in uno sguardo legalista, vogliamo dunque calarci nel profondo di queste situazioni difficili per accogliere tutti coloro che vi sono coinvolti e per far si che la Chiesa sia la casa paterna dove c’è posto per ciascuno con la sua vita faticosa. Ringraziamo vivamente la testimonianza dei coniugi Conway, Stephen e Sandra, che provengono dal Sud Africa e sono Responsabili regionali per l’Africa del movimento Retrouvailles, e ascoltiamoli con attenzione e con quell’apertura di mente e di cuore che deve caratterizzare il nostro ministero pastorale nel mondo odierno.

[03015-01.01] [Testo originale: Italiano]

Testimonianza dei coniugi Stephen e Sandra Conway, Responsabili regionali per l’Africa di Retrouvailles (Sud Africa)

Good day. We are Stephen and Sandra Conway - the Co-Ordinators for Retrouvaille in Africa. Retrouvaille is an organisation that helps hurting couples who often attend our program as a last resort, before separation or divorce.

We have been asked to share our experiences on difficult pastoral situations, in particular a) situations in families and b) concerning unions of persons of the same sex.

In 2008, after 21 years of marriage, our relationship had hit rock bottom. I went to my doctor, with no positive response. I tried talking to members of my family, who offered advice. I went to my Priest, who listened to my hurt and handed me a Retrouvaille brochure. It is now 6 years later - I am a different person because of Retrouvaille and our marriage relationship has been evangelised. The church, through Retrouvaille, became the "house of the Father, with doors wide open, a place for us with our problems".

Our 3 month program begins with a live in weekend followed by 12 post sessions. We are open to any couple, regardless of their religious beliefs.

Often we are approached by couples who have lived together for many years, have children but have not as yet married. Others have been married before and have a fear of making the same mistakes again. We also have couples on their second marriage, but fall into the trap of bringing the same problems from their previous marriage into the new one. The majority of couples, however, are in their first marriage but arrive at our weekend totally disillusioned and often on the verge of divorce.

What leads couples to our program? Financial difficulties, infidelity and family of origin issues are common problems which result in what we call "the singles married lifestyle"- couples married but 2 doing things separately. Often this single married lifestyle begins innocently but over time drives a wedge between the couple and they drift apart.

Our program looks at the four stages of marriage – romance, disillusionment, misery and joy. Most couples get stuck between the stages of disillusionment and misery. It is in the misery stage that many throw in the towel. It is our aim to equip couples with tools & techniques to get to the joy stage of marriage – where the emphasis is on US as opposed to the ME or I attitude found in the single married lifestyle. We explain that love is a decision, not a feeling; as is trust and forgiveness. We also encourage forgiveness setting the hurt party free. We use the Parable of the Prodigal Son to show that just as the Father forgave his Son, we too can forgive ourselves and each other the hurts of the past – we can come back to the Father’s house - the church and our homes. We can be the forgiving Father, by making the decision to forgive. We can also be the forgiven Son, by receiving forgiveness offered by our hurting spouse.

Children are greatly affected by an unhappy marriage. We have a few teachers on our team – they often share on the pain and hurt shown in the children of separated, divorced or unhappy marriages. We emphasise that the best gift couples can give their children is to decide to love each other; to put their marriage first; and to stand united in all decision involving the children. It inspires us when we receive letters from children, after their parents have completed our program, and thank us for their new Mom and Dad.

We have come across couples who are remarried and feel lost or aggrieved because they are unable to partake in the Eucharist. One example is that of a couple who married outside of the Catholic Church. The wife was non-Catholic and joined the RCIA to convert. As this was her second marriage, she had to apply to have her first marriage annulled. She became disillusioned with the Church and both husband and wife left the parish, after being in RCIA for 2 years and not being able to have the marriage annulled.

If God is the ultimate forgiver and full of compassion then these couples should be forgiven for previous mistakes, however, they believe that they are constantly reminded & guilty of these past relationships or mistakes by not being able to partake in communion.

We have also had requests from same sex unions or couples to attend Retrouvaille. We do chat to these couples and try to show understanding and compassion to them. However, we explain that our program is presented by teams of husbands and wives and that our stories and experiences would not relate to those in a same sex marriage or union. We also have a list of professional counsellors who offer their services to same sex unions and we pass this information on.

Retrouvaille has served the citizens of Durban, South Africa for 15 years, and communities round the world for 35 years. Approximately 10 000 couples attend our programs internationally every year, about 90% of these managing to turn away from divorce, some at the last opportunity. Thank you for your time.

[03016-02.01] [Original text: English]