PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — Commitment is the biggest challenge for today’s families, said Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec.
In an interview during the World Meeting of Families, he invited church leaders to look at families with a “realistic” perspective.
He recalled a discussion he had with a teenage girl when he was teaching religion classes to high school students in Ontario, just before he was ordained. The girl asked him what would happen if he ever fell in love with a woman.
“I told her: ‘I expect it will happen. Many times,'” said Archbishop Durocher. “‘What would you do then?’ she replied.”
Instead of answering directly, he said he asked her if it was possible that, one day, once she was married and had children, she might meet another man and fall in love. She said it might indeed happen.
“What will you do then?” the archbishop asked. “‘I’ll have to make a decision,’ she said.”
The archbishop replied: “So will I, dear. So will I.”
“It was the first time she was confronted with the idea of lifelong commitments,” he said. He added that the durability of a lifelong commitment goes hand in hand with faithfulness.
He said the first words he ever exchanged with St. John Paul II were about this matter. During a visit by the Canadian bishops to the Vatican, the archbishop, who was auxiliary bishop in Sudbury, Ontario, at the time, told the pope he did not agree with him that young people do not believe in faithfulness.
He told Pope John Paul that every young couple he had accompanied before their marriage believed in faithfulness. However, for many complicated reasons, it did not always last.
“‘What can we do to help them, then?’ the pope asked me. To this day, this question has stayed with me,” he added.
Though he said the church is still looking for an answer, he said he believes that being “as realistic as possible” with today’s challenges for families is the way to go. He says an event like the World Meeting of Families might help the church to be “realistic.”
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