Cardinal Vallini, Vicar of the Diocese of Rome, at the Diocesan Conference: "Revitalizing pastoral ministry to the family"
A "pastoral turning point," including reception, accompaniment, discernment, and integration, in line with the indications of Pope Francis and intended especially for people marked by "wounded and straying love." This is what Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Vicar of Rome, asked of the diocese‘s priests gathered on Monday, 19 September, in the basilica of St. John Lateran, for the final day of the Diocesan Convention on the theme "The Joy of Love: The Path of the Families in Rome."
The Cardinal, delineating the pastoral guidelines, indicated a clear goal: revitalizing "a ministry specifically geared for families," in the wake of Pope Francis‘ Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, which is a compass for the journey of the new year. The means, for example, strengthening the path of marriage preparation, making it into a two-year process at the prefectural level, and supporting the affective education of children with competent and credible educators. Yet, the main part of the Cardinal‘s address to the priests was focused on the persons marked by ‘‘wounded love," on those who have contracted civil marriages or are cohabiting, and on the remarried divorcees bound by a previous sacramental tie. For the latter, the first step is to create an information service for the verification of the marriage‘s validity: this constitutes the novelty of the "Court going out," with the announcement of the presence of a periodic service of the Diocesan Court in the prefectures, where it can attend to these situations. "When it is not possible to follow the normal procedure—said the Vicar of Rome—it is necessary to develop pastoral action for long-term accompaniment, in accordance with the moral principle of the ‘primacy of the person over the law‘." Recalling Amoris Laetitia no. 351, the Cardinal emphasized: "The Pope does not say that people must be admitted to the sacraments, although he has not ruled this out in some cases and under certain conditions." What matters is the attentiveness "to the circumstances of individual persons, to their conscience, without compromising the truth and the prudence that will help to find the right path," inviting them to "participate in some way in the Church‘s life: this does not necessarily mean coming to the sacraments—explain Card. Vallini—but rather guiding them towards a life integrated in the life of the Church." With regard to the affective education of adolescents, the "great challenge" to be dealt with, the Cardinal stressed the need "to repeat forcefully that the human person cannot be considered an object of pleasure but must be seen as a value in himself." In the face of "distorted emotional relationships that so often lead to tragic acts of violence and to the murder of women in families," the Cardinal concluded: "Christians cannot remain inert spectators."