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PEP: Part 4 – The family and education

The steep drop in abortions is dismissed as due to contraceptives which the Church claims have "an abortive action". (4.1.1 D) The bishops apparently prefer "marital purity"....(4.1.3.h) Church activists ("animators") are to lead children's and youth groups, whilst chaplains are to evangelise university students. No mention here of seeking bequests, only the curious instruction "to make records about all elderly and ailing in the parish regardless of their religious conviction" ... (4.5.3.f)


 Pastorisation and Evangelisation Plan
 of the Catholic Church in Slovakia,

Pastoračný a evanjelizačný plán Katolíckej cirkvi na Slovensku (2001-2006)

By the Slovak Bishops Conference, 10 May 2001.
Translation and notes by Prof. em. Alexander Rehák 


Part four
4. The family and education


4.1. Marriage and the family

4.1.1. The situation

A)  At present probably no other institution is targeted by so many attacks as marriage and the family

B)  The positive aspects cannot be disregarded, such as the freedom of expression, emphasis on respect for human rights, (provided that a balance is maintained between the rights of children and parents, women and men), dignity of the human being, efforts to respect the women’s dignity in her private and family life, development of theology and of the spirituality of marriage and parenthood as a calling to love and sanctity, stressing the responsibility of parents for educating and for evangelising their children, initiatives for support and for mutual help between families.

C)  Those participating in pastorisation in the area of the family are as follows:
– Council of the Bishops Conference for family (projects involving pastorisation programmes, various forms of activities);
– Diocesan and parish councils for the family;
– Married couples, parents, professionals (physicians, pedagogues, psychologists);
– Movements and initiatives of the laity (Movement of Christian Families, get-togethers of married couples, Movement for the New Families, Prayers of Mothers, and others.);
– In each of the 107 deanships in the Slovak Republic there is a married couple, who co-operate in the pastorisation of families.

D)  At the same time we see the difficulties to which families in Slovakia are often exposed. Numbers of marriages and numbers of newborn children drop every year, the number of loose sexual relations; divorces and children born out of wedlock grow. Despite the apparent declining numbers of abortions, this is due to the increasing use of contraceptives, which have at the same time an abortive action. A contraceptive mode of thinking spreads and this lessens faithfulness and stability of relations.

E)  Equality of rights between homosexual relations and marriage has recently become more and more prevalent. The values, morality and social position of marriage and the family are suffering a continual decline. Unfavourable social economic conditions make it ever worse. Children often grow up without participation of men in their upbringing (a generation without fathers), which has a very bad effect on their development; some research sees in it the reason for maltreating and abusing them.

F)  The Catholic Church in Slovakia is addressing these challenges by evolving the teaching about the family and by offering means and values upon which to base a harmonious and stable marriage. Documents of the Church (Familiaris consortio, Humanae vitae, Letter to the families, Evangelim vitae, Sexuality – its truth and importance) are reliable orientation for families seeking answers to their questions, as well as for the pastorisation of the family. In order to integrate these Church documents into the lives of families, there is a basic pastorisation program for families, containing the following parts:
– Preparing for marriage (before the wedding)
– preparing for parenthood (before the baptism);
– Upbringing of children (before the First Communion and the Confirmation);
– Liturgy for families (on occasion);
– Meetings of families (regularly or occasionally);
Recollections [rekolekcia: group meetings for deliberation about religious issues]; for married couples;
– Communities of families.

4.1.2 The aims

To help believers understand the human sexuality as a gift, for which we bear responsibility, and the marriage as a calling for love.
To ensure, that pastorisation will concern all members of the family.
To help those who are in special situations – like the separated, the divorced, widows and widowers, childless families, low-income families.
To enhance the long-term and immediate preparations for marriage and for parenthood.
To help parents in deepening their mutual love and in educating children.
To seek ways to help all the families, not only the believers
To co-operate with the NGOs, on issues that concern the family (FC 66).

4.1.3 Recommendations

On the level of parishes:

a)  In each parish to create conditions (premises, facilities) for meetings of families, improving preparations for marriage, preparation for the parenthood, extending help to married people in crisis;

b)  To try to make the parish a home for all, where they can find extensive help, support and advice for those who educate children as single parents, for parents with children experiencing problems, for families of low income, etc.;

c)  To organise programmes geared to complete families (such as Holy Masses, adorations, or excursions and celebrations);

d)  Once in a year to celebrate the Day of Family;

e)  Special care is to be given to young mothers, to help them deepen their faith and through the education [of their children?], (tape recordings for mothers, play grounds for children, aids for educating children…);

f)  To develop pastorisation of males, to strengthen their identity as a man and father to return the parents and fathers to their families;

g)  To help parents in the education of their children and in their common family life with different generations, (advice on solving educational problems, literature, lectures). To inculcate in them the assurance that the result of the education depends above all on the God’s help and on the relations between the married couple.

h)  To help married couples live in marital purity as a mystery and as a way to maturity and love;

i)  To develop at parishes a close co-operation between the priest, parents, and pedagogic staff, as well as with the involvement of laymen – with representatives of the municipality and with local State authorities.

On the diocesan and the national level:

j)  To create Diocesan Centres for the family with permanent employees and to provide the conditions for a proper functioning;

k)  To continue in developing well tested methods of dialogue in the pastorisation of the family, such as recollections [rekolekcia: organised gatherings with religious deliberations] of married couples, communities of families, which help to resolve family problems, courses seminars, and lectures.

l)  To try to find varied forms of an Academy for Parents, centred on relations between married couple and education of children;

m)  In the framework of the permanent forming of priests to encourage the parish priests to be open to pastorising families, to offer them seminars concerning practical pastorisation of the family, new pedagogic-psychological knowledge , creative modes of co-operation with the laity in the parish as well as practical experience.

n)  To co-operate with the State authorities and such NGOs, which try to assist families and their members on the level of the dioceses, deanships and parishes, complying with principles of a healthy ethics.

4.2. Educating children

4.2.1. The situation

A)  The contemporary upbringing of children is influenced by many factors, e.g.:
– weakening of links between the family members;
 – technological and informative development;
– commercialisation of all spheres of our life;
– creation of Christian-oriented movements for the protection of certain values (nature preservation).

B)  The present-day culture strongly influences the education of children. Especially through the media it presents them with its values and its style of life. In the stories and tales there are many acts of violence and evil, contrary to manifestations of true friendship and good. The children often succumb to the influence of the majority. They acquire with difficulty critical thinking and feel complexes in front of those, who “are in a position to” use in their lives all methods – violence, vulgarity and money.

C)  Besides the work done at the ecclesiastic schools and the religious education in the state schools, the direct pastorisation of children consists of preparing children for sacraments at parishes and of the work of monastic orders and movements of laymen in the children’s free time.

D)  The educational influence of the parents is supported by preparing the parents (and the god-parents) in the particular parishes, by means of sermons and personal contacts. This is often irregular and non-systematic.

E)  Important for work with children is the methodical and personality formation of leaders of children’s communities – of the animators [Church activists] – which is done through weekly basic courses and additional courses and meetings on the levels of dioceses and parishes during the weekends (especially the Salesians [DOMka, Association of Salesian Youth], and the eRko [Movement of Christian Communities of Children]).

F)  Work with the children is being supported by children’s magazines like Rebrík, Čajka, Svetlo and others [Ladder, Seagull and The Light].

G)  TV Studio Lux is preparing a programme for children, Samson, broadcast once a week on Slovak Television.

4.2.2. The aims

The child must be considered a personality, in order to bring it up to a personality and to lead it to personal faith. It is necessary to create conditions enabling children to use the Church as a community living from faith and in the love of active people.

To create conditions so that the pastorisation of children becomes an integral component of the Church’s life in Slovakia and it finds fertile soil in families, schools and parishes.

4.2.3. Recommendations

a)  To give priority to all forms of prevention before all forms of repressions, which humiliate the heart and lock it. The preventive system is based on reasonable argumentation, presented through appropriate religious forms, by a caring approach in accordance with the Gospel: “Let the little ones come unto me”;

b)  To pay respect to specifics related to the age of the children. In the spirit of the commandment to love, to develop personal relations between the children;

c)  To communicate not only information, but also experience in faith; to support exchange of experience with of the Gospel among the children;

d)  To make use in the educational process of all available means, such as music, songs, pictures, ceremonies, celebrations, pilgrimages, good books, camping, nature, a friendly approach at the sacrament of absolution, a fraternal and family-like atmosphere in the community, sports and competitions;

e)  To look for ways to prevent cruelty to women and children, and how to help the victims of such misdeeds.

The work in the parishes:

f)  To establish a system of regular and systematic work with the parents as the first mediators of the faith to their children (preparations for baptism, mutual help in at the education e.g., through the family communities.

g)  To include in the forming of the priests in seminaries methodical preparation for pastorisation of children in parishes as a compulsory component of studies and to implement it in co-operation with the laity who have good experience in this field;

h)  To support publishing methodical materials on the pastorisation of children for the priests, catechists, animators [Church activists] pedagogues, parents, etc;

i)  To support a systematic preparation of children for the sacraments and to offer them opportunities for further formation after receiving the sacrament, as well as including them in the parish;

j)  To support the creation of children’s communities and to create conditions for their regular activities (rooms, club premises, co-operation with organising recreational activities such as Days of the Life, Days of Pleasure, excursions, and similar [events].

k)  To create room for active activities for children in the liturgical life of the Church via divine services for children, children’s choirs, children’s Passion plays [on the suffering and crucifixion of Christ], all performed in a manner accessible to today’s children;

l)  To support and the personal and methodical formation of the animators [Church activists] – leaders of the children’s communities on the level of the dioceses and parishes.

m)  To develop in children feelings for missions by involving them in activities such as The Good News (Christmas carolling action);

n)  To support co-operation and exchange of experience concerning work with the children between parishes, lay movements, (eRko [Movement of Christian Communities of Children], DOMka [Association of Salesian Youth], scouting and others) [and] religious orders on the local, national and international levels.

Work with the media

o)  To support publishing children’s magazines and literature which promotes pastorisation among children;

p)  To create room in the public media / Slovak Television and Slovak Radio [Sro] / and Christian media (Radio Lumen) for broadcasting programmes of high quality for children.

4.3. The youth and evangelisation

4.3.1. The situation

A)  The existence of varied communities of youth, which came into existence during the totalitarian period as a result of the pastorisation-evangelisation efforts, take at present new and diversified forms. Besides some positive signs, [is the fact that] often the evangelisation dimension, the sense for a specific type of work and co-operation with other communities have been lost.

B)  In the framework of the Section for the Youth and Family at the Bishops Conference, regular meetings are held between the diocesan co-ordinators nominated by diocesan Bishops, as well as the representatives of the University Pastorisation Centres, Salesians, and small religious orders, movements, associations, and communities working with the youth. A main focus of these meetings is implementing the new model of the pastorisation of the youth approved by the Bishops Conference in March 1998. This programme was begun September 1999 by setting up a Section for the Youth at the diocese of Banská Bystrica and by launching systematic activities – regular meetings of the Council for the Youth, activities of the Diocesan Centre for the Youth such as long-term courses at the diocesan animation [activism] school, organising of spiritual renewal, diocesan events for the youth, and evangelisation programmes.

4.3.2 The aims

According to the pastorisation instructions of John Paul II, to help young people with the fundamental revelation – to reveal the person of Jesus Christ and to reveal life as a calling.

Formation of a humanly and a mature Christian personality of the young person prepared for engagement in the Church and in the society.

Integrated formation of the youth in the spiritual and in its humane matters, such as theoretical, practical, personal and social, cultural and professional fields;

To lead the youth so that they become not only acceptors of the pastorisation care, but also its active initiators.

4.3.3. Recommendations

a)  To give the young in the parish a chance to found small communities and, at the same time, to preserve the ties with the parish administrator and to support their openness for evangelisation, to provide for the selection and formation of animators [Church activists], to promote a co-ordination of varied communities of the youth in the parishes, their links to public institutions, schools, social activities;

b)  On the level of deanships to arrange for regular meetings of parish representatives, animators [Church activists], varied youth communities, in order to exchange experience and information, as well as for further education and formation. All these activities are directed by a priest appointed by the Bishop to the care of the youth on the territory of the deanship;

c)  To establish a Diocesan Council (committee) for the youth with a priest-co-ordinator appointed by the diocesan Bishop and assigned especially to this service. He co-ordinates all the youth activities in the diocese, helps co-operation between the particular deanships, religious orders and movements for youth work, he organises diocesan events;

d)  The Diocesan Centre for Youth provides for the long-term formation in the diocesan animator [Church activist] school, for spiritual renewal, publishing of a diocesan informative-formative magazine for young people, schedules evangelisation programmes, revives the pastorisation of the youth in all parts of the diocese. With such an aim he co-operates with social and cultural institutions, Pastorisation and Catechist Centres for the Family;

e)  To support the Section for Youth, the Council for the Family and Youth at the Bishops Conference, which work up analyses, issue conceptual and methodical directives for evangelisation and pastorisation of the youth, co-ordinate youth activities in the whole national territory and which should cover all the parish, university, apprentices, and the problematic youth and those in quest of their route;

f)  In co-operation with the representatives of the dioceses, religious orders, communities, lay movements and associations working with youth to prepare projects, which should cover a wide reach of young people. Co-operation is needed here with professionals, in line with the ecumenism and with the rest of the Churches [the non-Catholic ones];

g)  To support formation of priests and laymen for the work with young people;

h)  To provide for youth events on national and international levels, such as the World Youth Day, nationwide conferences for youth and similar things.

4.4. Pastorisation of the university youth

4.4.1. The situation

A)  In the field of pastorisation the university students a great progress has been achieved in the past years by establishing University Pastorisation Centres in all of the more important university towns of Slovakia. For the pastorisation of the students, priests were assigned, either diocesan or monastic. The Commission of Bishops Conference – its VVKU, University Sections meet regularly. The University chaplains associated within the latter have worked out a Plan for the Long-term Formation of the University Youth, approved by the Bishops Conference on March 16, 1999.

B)  A shift in a positive direction as to pastorisation appeared since the Trident concept of considering it a purely territorial issue of the parishes – to a differentiated spiritual care of people pursuant to the approach of the Second Vatican Council. There is a progress in co-operation between territorial parishes and the pastorisation of the students.

C)  A negative sign is the insufficient acceptance and follow-up on the part of the university students. Many of them cannot find orientation among the pressures of the environment. Due to the secularised ambience scepticism and indifference are spreading. Young people are full of prejudices and reservations against the Church. This is the result of the discrepancy between the religious practice they are confronted with, and the self-assessment image of the Church presented by the Second Vatican Council.

D)  The pastorisation of the university youth follows the principles, which have recently been recommended by the Church Magisterium. In 1994 on the initiative of John Paul II three Vatican offices issued a joint official document The Presence of the Church in the University and in University Culture which analysed the situation of the university in the contemporary world, evaluating the initiatives to date and presenting pastorisation proposals.

E)  In May 1998 the Congregation for the Catholic Education along with other Church institutions organised in Rome a European Congress of University Chaplains, which looked at the aims of University pastorisation in the era of post-modernism, extreme individualism and the great influence of the media. This Congress stressed the task of formatting students, who will be able to enter an open dialogue with the contemporary ways o f thinking and it outlined the basic aims and means of university pastorisation.

F)  The most important impulse on the part of the Church Magisterium was the jubilee of universities celebrated at the occasion of the Second Millennium’s Anniversary. The Holy Father outlined the basic theme for this epoch. The University for a New Humanism, derived from knowing the person of Jesus, which will truly serve the human being, his progress and dignity.

4.4.2. The aims

The evangelisation calling of the University Centres should help the students to disclose the illusory nature of many cultural proposals, to overcome the suggestions of idols and renew the inner freedom, which opens mankind to the service of God. The aim of university pastorisation is the evangelisation and inculturation, namely the retrieval of the Christian Revelation in the present culture: to present the Gospel to the young person as such which gives interesting, truthful and solid answers to his basic questions.

4.4.3. Recommendations

a)  Systematic catechesis with emphasis on making a community, which offers different ways and answers, adequate to the needs of particular individuals;

b)  Personal and humane accompanying of students, which means on the part of the priest a real acceptance, readiness to put himself at their disposal (to be there for them), friendship, good mutual relations, as well as reasonable judgement of varied situations in which the students live and also providing concrete help;

c)  Deepening of the faith and of the spiritual life (KKC, The Holy Scripture), rooted in the word of God, as well as sharing with the others the sacred and liturgical life;

d)  Developing the missionary dimension of this formation;

e)  Linkage of this formation with professional training and learning;

f)  To lead to an engaged presence in varied spheres of the life of society.

4.5 Care of seniors

4.5.1. The situation

A)  The seniors in many parishes, communities and movements significantly contribute to activities by their experience, maturity and psychic values. One has to value highly the activities of the Association of Christian Pensioners (4000 members, 40 local organisations) and of the parish clubs of pensioners.

B)  Despite this one can come across an attitude which consigns seniors to the margin of society and Church life. Contrary to the common opinion, old age is not a period of decline, but a new opportunity. “Retirement … opens a new field for apostolic activity. One has to accept this task bravely...It is an age when it is possible to scrutinize better, to comprehend better and to live up more intensively the mystery of Eastertide, to become a pattern in the Church for the People of God” (ChL 48).

C)  It is necessary to create more and more conditions, so that the elderly can use their gifts to bear witness to the faith’s tradition (Ex 12:26-27), become teachers of life (Sir 6:35; 11-12) and performers of charitable love. (cf. the Document of the Papal Council for the Family “The dignity of the elderly and his/her calling in society and the Church” SSV 1999)

4.5.2. The aims

The aim of the pastorisation and evangelisation plan as it relates to seniors is an encouragement for accepting the time of retirement when priorities become as follows:
– Voluntary charity activities;
– Apostolate (personal apostolate and also catechesis);
– Liturgy (also as deacons, lectors and acolytes);
– Participation in the work of associations and Church movements;
– Family (taking part in education of the grandchildren, passing on the spiritual values;
– Intensive life of prayers, giving new vigour for the service of God, people and Church;
– By readiness to submit to [God’s] testing, to bring spiritual sacrifices for the Church and the whole world (cf. Kol 1, 24 );
– Engagement for the culture of life.

4.5.3. Recommendations

a)  To make conditions, especially for the younger pensioners, so that they can use their gifts in the parish community and in society;

b)  Physically and mentally to assist the seniors, who are dependent on help, so that by acceptance of affliction and by prayers they contribute to their own sanctification, sanctification of their loved ones and of the Church;

c)  To support movements and initiatives (Bible study groups, University of the Advanced Age [an Education Ministry initiative for seniors, leading to a special university diploma.]) which make for an integration of seniors in the parish community, and help them to enrich the others, e. g, in the framework of small communities;

d)  To facilitate the participation of old people in celebrating the Eucharist, the sacrament of the atonement, on pilgrimages and in spiritual renewal, e g, by providing volunteers to escort them;

e)  To ensure that the services and help extended to seniors and the ailing dependent on help is associated with a spiritual care. Not forget about seniors staying in institutions;

f)  To make provisions for organising in each parish a group, which make records about all elderly and ailing in the parish regardless of their religious conviction, and in co-operation with the relatives and neighbours cares about their practical and spiritual needs. For the volunteers in this service to organise courses of formation (course of home care for the ailing, course of accompanying the dying, course of communicating with the ailing and elderly);

g)  To lead older people to apostolate via common contacts, to teach them witnessing of the Gospel, with no words, but with deeds of love [“sic” in original];

h)  To ask the ailing and the old to pray for the needs of the parish. To inculcate in them the view, that their life, despite the painful limitations, can be productive by their prayers and that through suffering in union with Christ’s sacrifice they can implore for mercy for themselves and for others;

i)  To bring up the young and the adults to solidarity with the seniors. To prepare them for an active old age, to take advantage of the opportunities offered by having ended their working life.

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