Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, enthused by the recent Asian bishops' conference in his home city, said that firming up family life in Sri Lanka would be a top priority for the church there. "Western influences and social evils negatively impact family life and we should safeguard the family with the help of other religious leaders and the support of the government," Cardinal Ranjith said at a press conference on Dec. 6. Over 140 bishops, archbishops, nuns and priests discussed ways to strengthen Asian family life at the eleventh Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences which was held for the first time in Sri Lanka from Nov. 28 to Dec. 4. "We found that the inability of young couples to commit themselves to traditional family life is one of the threats to the firm family structure so we decided to help them overcome their problems with awareness programs," the cardinal said. "We also decided to focus on child rights. Once family bonds collapse, children suffer the mistakes of their parents.... Also, many couples have abortions and the Catholic Church strongly opposes this so we decided to strengthen counseling services," he added.
Over 140 bishops, archbishops, nuns and priests attended the eleventh Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences, Nov. 28 - Dec. 4 in Sri Lanka. (ucanews.com photo)
Bishop Raymond Wickramasinghe of Galle said that the conference also focused on migration and the way it impacts family life. "Many family members migrate to European countries leaving their spouse and children in Sri Lanka... Many women migrate to be housemaids in the Middle East hurting the education and spiritual life of their children. We decided to ask our priests and nuns to pay regular visits to such families to help them," Bishop Wickramasinghe said. Cardinal Telesphore Placidus Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi, waxed prophetic on spiritual values and family life in an interview on Nov. 29. "The church in Asia has to have a bold vision like Isaiah to transform our families and make domestic churches channels of mercy. Each family will have to grow into a fruit-bearing tree and all of them together will create a new pasture of fruitfulness," he said. "Pastoral workers have to be men and women of compassion, have the willingness to listen and possess angelic levels of patience to help families in their struggles. They must become a eucharistic presence in every way," he added. Delegates of the Asian bishops' conference met Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Dec. 1. He congratulated them for discussing the theme of strengthening the Asian family. As well as talks and meetings, delegates enjoyed cultural performances and visited places of religious interest in Colombo.
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