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Society depends so much on the family: Archbishop

By Sarah Mac Donald - 28 December, 2015

Archbishop Michael Neary - Launch of Grow in LoveIf we fail to provide support for marriage and the family then we should not be surprised if a world without loyalty emerges, one where relationships are casual, where people are taken advantage of and then treated as part of a disposal society, the Archbishop of Tuam has warned.

In his homily for the Feast of the Holy Family on Sunday, Archbishop Michael Neary said, “Society depends so much on the family” and he suggested that failure to support the family was a “prelude” to a “less human world – a world of power without morality, sex without love, childhood without stability and relationships without trust”.

Elsewhere in his homily, Archbishop Neary described families as the “crucible of humanity”.

“They are the miniature world in which we learn how to face the wider world. The family is in fact a seabed of the future. By destabilising marriage we are rapidly eroding the social structure on which humanity depends,” he said.

Acknowledging that some relationships will fail, he stated that the family unit is probably one of the most valuable supports in tough times as well as in good times.

On the Feast of the Holy Family, he prayed for all families, for those who are rejoicing, those who are carrying the cross of serious illness, loneliness, bereavement or broken relationships.

Underlining that there are so many pressures on families today, pressures which those who have gone before us would never have experienced, he highlighted how success in technology has not succeeded in leaving us with more time for each other.

“Indeed, at times when people had to wait for the fire to kindle, the kettle to boil, when they had to walk and cycle, one got the impression that had people have time for each other, more time to listen and talk and share,” Dr Neary said.

He said the qualities which we value highly in our culture are love, justice, truthfulness, respect for the rights and dignity of others, concern for those in need, the spirit of co-operation, forgiveness and patience.

“These are virtues which are needed in our world and which parents endeavour to teach and put into practice in family life.”

Elsewhere on Sunday, the Archbishop stated that families come in all forms, shapes and sizes.

“On the one hand you have families where love is shared, there is growth in understanding and a loving relationship in the home where everyone is enabled and encouraged to take responsibility.”

“On the other there are families where love is under constant threat, where a parent is struggling to survive financially and provide for the children. There are homes where parents are separated or divorced, with all the attendant problems. There are other homes where there is violence and searing pain,” he said.

Yet, in-spite of all the pressures to which the family is subjected, the family is very resilient and still retains enormous strength and is a powerful instrument of healing and hope.

He said the Church shares in the joys and the hopes, the sorrows and the anxieties of peoples’ daily pilgrimage.

A huge challenge in family life today is trying to come to terms with the different paths that family members take in life.

“Forgiveness and patience will be called for. In practicing the ordinary family virtues of patience and forgiveness, we are doing much more than overlooking the faults of others and giving them a second chance. We are being introduced to the wonders that are hidden within them and within all of us,” he said.

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