Challenges with Ministry with Families - Evangelii Gaudium Series #7

Challenges for Ministry to Families

Besides marriage issues, the causes of breakdown in faith practice are complex and peoples’ motivations are “mysteries which no one can fully know from without” (EG 172).  Evangelii Gaudium identifies some causes of this breakdown: “a lack of opportunity for dialogue in families, the influence of the communications media, a relativistic subjectivism, unbridled consumerism which feeds the market, lack of pastoral care among the poor, the failure of our institutions to be welcoming, and our difficulty in restoring a mystical adherence to the faith in a pluralistic religious landscape” (EG 70).

The Pope reminds us that responsibility for not following the Church’s teachings can be conditioned by ignorance or fear (CCC 1724) (EG 44). A main reason people fail to marry is poverty. While more than half of upper-class (57%) and middle-class (55%) adults are married, only 35% of lower-class adults are married.[1]  Evangelii Gaudium is insistent that we give a preferential option for the poor and seek to include them in the Church (186). Solidarity with the poor includes helping them overcome obstacles to marrying and living fully the Church’s sacramental life. For instance, a growing number of parishes are holding group weddings and hosting communal receptions for couples who otherwise could not afford it.

Our church policies and rules may keep people from approaching the sacraments: Couples not registered in any parish are often turned away by well-meaning but uninformed or non-evangelizing parish staff. They may perceive church attendance as too expensive, too many rules, or for “perfect” people. The current fashion in destination weddings has resulted in many couples entering marriage cut off from Church. Pope Francis calls us to ministry in a “missionary key,” which puts people ahead of policies and rules, including the way we treat the sacraments, since “…our church doors should always be open…nor should the doors of the sacraments be closed for simply any reason” (EG 47).


[1] Pew Research Center Trends “Yes, the Rich Are Different,” Kim Parker, October 8, 2012,