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The focus on the August prayer intention reflects Pope Francis’ guiding insight, expressed often in Laudato Si’, that “everything is connected.” The “micro” community of the family and “mac-ro” community of the state depend on each other for their health.
We all know the importance of the family from our own experience. It is there that we first learn how to respect authority, how to play fairly, how to give and receive love—all the basic human virtues and values that equip us for political and religious life. So much of our life’s trajectory, our sense of being at home in the world and in the Church, depends upon families of origin.
Yet the state does not always sufficiently recognize the “treasure” that family life is, providing support in accordance with its importance. In Amoris Laetitia Pope Francis observes, “The nega-tive impact on the social order [on families] is clear, as seen in the demographic crisis, in the dif-ficulty of raising children, in a hesitancy to welcome new life, in a tendency to see older persons as a burden, and in an increase of emotional problems and outbreaks of violence” .
Healing the family, Francis notes, requires the toppling of various ideologies dominating the state. There is the ideology of market logic, which privileges total economic growth over securing those goods that make family life possible for all, e.g., dignified housing and employment for all (Amoris Laetitia [43-44]). There is also gender ideology which, by denying sexual difference, no longer accepts the permanent union of man and woman as the most favorable circumstances for raising children (Amoris Laetitia ).
Given these challenges, we do well to join the Holy Father this August in praying for the family.
Fr. Aaron Pidel, SJAssistant Professor of Theology
Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI (USA)