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Brazilian family

Poverty is driving farming families in Caruarù in Brazil to the cities. Caritas Switzerland is helping them with the tools they need to stay on the land. Photo by Luca Zanetti, Caritas Switzerland

Poverty is a “major pastoral emergency” for the Church, say Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Caritas Internationalis and Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

The two Catholic Church leaders have called for the effects of poverty on the family to be a focus for bishops and other officials who will meet at the Vatican in the October.

In a letter addressed to the presidents of bishops’ conferences and to national Caritas organisations, the prelates said, “The family is the basic unit of society; this is indispensible for ensuring the continuity of society…. When the family fares badly society fares badly and when society fares badly it is the family that is affected by it.”

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They said the family is a school for solidarity: “The family is, par excellence, a space for socialisation and the process of solidarity. Children who see their parents sharing, giving and paying attention to others can in turn replicate the same values.”

The cardinal and the archbishop say poverty makes the family more fragile and threatens its existence. Strengthening the family and promoting the role of parents is one of the pastoral challenges of the Church.

The Synod of Bishops will meet to discuss “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelisation” from 5th to 9th October.

Cardinal Rodriguez and Archbishop Paglia list of suggestions for those preparing for the synod which includes organising awareness raising for very poor families, advocacy to the authorities on their basic needs and valuing the role of the elderly in society.

“Christians should always bear in mind that God became incarnate in a family; in fact, in a poor family. Indifference toward the poor is indifference toward God Himself.” they said.

Click here to read the complete document.