2020 and 2021 will not only be remembered as the years of the global pandemic, but also as the years we gave greater importance to the family in times of crisis.
In regard to our health, staying in our "bubbles" is helping to protect us from the virus. Economically, the family unit is that community which helps to get us out of complicated situations.
There is no doubt, therefore, that the family unit holds a special place in our hearts, although it is often not taken sufficiently into account or does not receive necessary help.
2021: The Year to Strengthen the Family
On January 20, , I was able to virtually participate in an international webinar, organized by Rome Reports projected to reflect about what a year dedicated to the family would mean following a pandemic such as this.
It was interesting to listen to Gabriella Gambino, Undersecretary of the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life. She recalled that "the pandemic has shown the family unit’s strengths but also its weaknesses. Some of these weaknesses are: fear of marriage, violence, or marital crisis; thus, demonstrating a fracture between faith and real life."
Lack of self-esteem was another issue highlighted by psychologist Laura Rojas-Marcos. It is "a value that develops within the family and when it is missing or lacking, makes it difficult to love others –– since those who do not have self-esteem cannot love."
The third guest who spoke was psychologist Lupita Venegas. She indicated how "young people have a love for life, but it is society that is responsible for stifling that love."
Along with these three speakers, there was a proposal to involve married couples in family ministry to make it all more applicable to real life.
The Year of the Family, Amoris Laetitia, and the Tenth World Meeting in Rome
It has been 27 years since the First World Meeting of Families was held in Rome in 1994 under Pope John Paul II. At that time the motto was "The Family, the Heart of the Civilization of Love," and I feel privileged to have been able to participate when I was just a child.
On March 19 – St. Joseph's Day – Pope Francis called the year "Family, Amoris Laetitia," coinciding with the fifth anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia and the third anniversary of another Church document Gaudete et Exsultate.
The Pope wanted to unite the two celebrations in order to emphasize the family's call to holiness, which unquestionably comes from a source of love in the home which is then translated into service, in going out of oneself and giving oneself to others; and an affection that begins with kind treatment among cohabitants.
When the family is more affected than ever, immersed in a global pandemic, now is the time to heal old wounds, strengthen bonds, and deepen learning at all levels. Now is the time to protect this institution, which is a school of virtue and the primary cell of society.
This is the reason why various tools will be made available to parishes and other ecclesial institutions for marriage preparation, education about the affectivity of young people, and about the holiness of spouses and their families. All updated information can be found on the web: www.laityfamilylife.va.
This platform will also provide various spiritual, pastoral, and cultural initiatives organized by the Dicastery of Family, activities in which the Pope invites us to participate.
It may be helpful to reread (or read for the first time) both Apostolic Exhortations. Along with that of John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, which resulted in this spiritual and cultural movement for the family in the Catholic Church, whose effects are already being felt in society and will be felt even more throughout history.
This time of grace will come to a close on June 26, 2022 with the Tenth World Meeting of Families in Rome in the presence of the Holy Father; an event that was delayed by a year due to the coronavirus.
II Virtual Symposium on Marriage and Family
Although the outline of how all of these initiatives will materialize is still being defined, it is worth highlighting an event on a global and virtual level: the II Symposium sobre Matrimonio y Familia organized by the Familia360 platform.
This is this congress’ second meeting, hosting more than 50 speakers who cover different topics: from adolescence to the love between a couple, from communication to adversity, digital health and much more.
This shows that the issues that arise at home are always valid and, above all, vital.
It's time to warm up our engines for a year full of proposals to grow as a family!