Archbishop Inaugurates counseling services to save Marriages from the doldrums

Bengaluru Feb 20: “Two words that catch our attention when we go through the Synodal and Post-Synodal documents on the family are ‘accompaniment and discernment’ Fr. Aruralraj Gali, Secretary, Family Commission of the Catholic Conference of Bishops in India (CCBI) told a gathering of priests, religious and laity at the inauguration of Bangalore Archdiocese’ first Family Counseling Services, February 20th 4.35 pm. Applauding Archbishop Dr. Bernard Moras for his keen interest in providing counseling services for hurting couples he said “Though there are family counseling services in Bangalore, a dire need was felt to offer counseling services at the Archdiocesan level, within the premises of Paalanaa Bhavana (Archdiocesan Pastoral Center) with the help of professionally trained counselors”.  Fr. Arulraj also appreciated the efforts of Vicars General Monsignori C. Francis and S. Jayanathan for persuading and connecting trained and committed counselors to support the counseling services in the Archdiocese.

Addressing the gathering including over 20 professional counselors who have pledged to offer their services, Archbishop Moras said “This counseling srvice is the Archdiocese’ very quick response coming at a time when the plenary assembly of the CCBI just concluded their proposals and discussions on The Family.  At the 2015 and 2016 Synod on the Family, the Holy Father has sufficiently emphasized the need to protect Christian families from disintegration and discord.  We at the Archdiocese have felt the urgency of protecting the sacrament of marriage and the family especially in the context of changing trends in society that tend to endanger families”.  While commending the efforts of Fr. Arulraj of the Holy Cross Congregation, the Prelate said “we have been having over six months of planning and discussions to provide hurting couples trained counselors to resolve problems and reconcile with each other”.  The Archbishop added “It is a fact that Families all over the world are on the rocks and in crisis and it is pertinent to address these issues with urgency”.

Archbishop Moras cited an example of how “a very good Catholic couple who frequently involved and supported Archdiocesan ventures went into despair when their son working in an IT company fell in love with a Hindu girl.  The girl refused to marry in Church and they finally compromised and married in court”.  The Prelate also expressed deep concern over the increasing number of Catholics who are cohabiting giving scant regard to the sanctity of the institution of Marriage. Though Family counseling services by priests and religious are available across Bangalore and also referrals from the Archdiocesan Family Commission, the Prelate said “At the Archdiocesan Priests Council, we felt the need for an official Archdiocesan counseling service for families and so sought the help of the Holy Cross Congregation of priests”

Drawing a parallel of the long years of training for Priesthood Archbishop Moras said “Even after long years of training for the Priesthood, the priest still goes through crisis and seeks the help of a spiritual director or counselor.  How much more then would families too need help when in crisis. Quoting from the Papal document ‘Amoris Latetia’, the Archbishop stressed the importance of “serious preparation of those planning to get married” and also to “do a follow-up on how their marriage is progressing even after children are born”. He expressed alarm at the increasing number of cases at the Marriage Tribunal every year adding “Sadly, even priests and nuns sometimes hesitate to give church teaching or proper orientation regarding sexual life and life skills in marriage”. “The present two and a half days of pre-marriage preparation does not suffice when one thinks of the many challenges and difficulties couples may have to face in marriage”. It may be recalled that Archbishop Moras shared at the recent Plenary Assembly of Bishops how the Archdiocese introduced a half day program for ‘to-be in-laws’ in the presence of their children during the Marriage preparation course. The Archbishop held “We felt it was a move to be transparent so that ‘to-be in-laws’ know what input their children are receiving, as quite often in-laws are also responsible for disruption of marriages. They too need to be correctly oriented in keeping the marriage intact”.

Vicar General of the Archdiocese, Monsignor S Jayanathan reiterating the Archbishop’s comment on the importance of nurturing marriages as parallel and important when comparing to long years and cost of priestly formation impressed upon the gathering the words of Pope Francis who said  “even if you don’t stay together for your sake, stay together for the sake of your children”. Citing real life examples calling for commitment and seriousness of the marital bond, Monsignor Jayanathan said “If we should compare marriage to a building, it is the foundation, to a tree it is the root and to the body it is the backbone”. Expressing appreciation for the commitment of counselors to the newly established counseling services, he urged counselors “to get to the periphery of couples and families while addressing problems”.

Fr. Leo D’Souza, Provincial of the Holy Cross Congregation while expressing joy that the Archdiocese has sought the services of its priests said “we are glad to be of service to the Archdiocese. I am sure that in the process of counseling, counselors look into the inner dynamics of marriage and work towards a spiritual orientation in families which is of primary importance”.